“A peer-edited journal…” means that every editor who makes decisions on manuscripts submitted to GENETICS is a practicing scientist whose accomplishments and judgment are recognized by his or her peers. It means that the editors have walked the same path as the authors, have wrestled every day with the unknown, and know from hard-won experience what it takes to tell a significant story. It means that practicing scientists—peers of the authors—are setting the standards for our journal.
“…of the Genetics Society of America” means that GENETICS is run by and for practicing scientists. The Editorial Board is assembled under the aegis of the Genetics Society of America and is evaluated by the Society’s Board of Directors, composed of our peers, who are elected by their peers. This provides important checks and balances for one of our most critical tasks: setting the standards of our discipline.
To see what peer-editing means, let us trace the path of a manuscript submitted to GENETICS. Upon submission, authors choose the journal section most appropriate for their manuscript. The Senior Editor of the section reads the cover letter and abstract and peruses the manuscript to see if it fits the scope of the journal, checking to ensure that all data supporting the story will be available to reviewers and readers (see journal data policy). The Senior Editor consults at least one other editor, and, if at least one of them feels the manuscript merits consideration, it is assigned to an Associate Editor who recruits reviewers. Manuscripts deemed valuable but not broad enough in scope are referred to our sister journal G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics. (Reviewers take note: manuscripts that you are asked to review have passed a stringent pre-review process; since 2009, we have declined to review ∼25% of submitted manuscripts, about one-third of which have been recommended for consideration by G3.)
In addition to asking their opinions of whether the authors’ conclusions are justified, reviewers are asked if the manuscript meets the journal’s criteria for publication, to judge the importance of the questions it addresses, whether the authors have described a significant advance for the field, and if they think the manuscript is likely of broad interest. We ask reviewers to provide a clear statement of specific problem(s) with the manuscript and to include in their review suggestions on the writing, structure, scholarship, and length of the manuscript, as well as suggestions for improving the presentation of the story.
When two reviews (sometimes three, rarely only one) have been completed, the Associate Editor parses them into a decision on the suitability of the manuscript for publication in GENETICS. Importantly, the editors of GENETICS do not simply tally the reviewers’ “votes.” Rather, they use the reviewers’ comments and their own judgment to synthesize a decision on the manuscript. The Senior Editor reviews the decision, often consults with the Associate Editor, and finally sends the decision to the authors. Thus, every decision on manuscripts submitted to GENETICS is made with the collaboration of at least two peer editors.
Because GENETICS editors themselves submit manuscripts for publication, they are keenly aware of the need for timely decisions and strive to come to a decision within 30 days. Since January 2011, the average time from submission to first decision has been 36 days; so far this year it is 33 days.
The most frequent decision for reviewed manuscripts is “reconsider pending revision” because most manuscripts benefit from the reviewers’ and editors’ criticisms and suggestions, which usually serve to increase the impact, readability, and understanding of the work. GENETICS is known for its careful, insightful, helpful reviews and editorial guidance. For this, we have you—our peers—to thank; we greatly appreciate the quality of your reviews. And decision letters clearly convey to authors exactly where the manuscript stands, with clear guidance on the path forward. As Editor-in-Chief, I have the privilege of reviewing many decision letters, and I can state unequivocally that GENETICS editors uniformly provide their peers with fair, clear, and helpful decisions. GENETICS editors take such care with their decisions because they recognize their job as one of the most important in science: to set the standards of our field.
About one-third of submitted manuscripts are eventually accepted for publication in the journal. Our goal is to contribute to setting the standards of our field by publishing the best and most important work of our colleagues.
Affiliation of the journal with a well-established scientific society means that its guiding principle is scholarship. “Does the manuscript describe a significant advance on a problem important to the field?” is our primary question, rather than “how many citations is it likely to attract?” Being made up of scholars, the Editorial Board of GENETICS understands the importance of scholarship and fosters it.
The commitment and expertise found within our scientific community is illustrated in the YeastBook series published in GENETICS. An editorial board led by YeastBook Editor-in-Chief Alan Hinnebusch has organized and published 22 YeastBook articles since November 2011 (almost half the number that we expect to publish by 2014). Scholarly discourse on mouse genetic resources, and methods for improving our understanding of the genotype/phenotype map are other examples of contributions from our community of scientists. The Genetics Society of America is the backbone of these endeavors—for which the primary concern is the science, published by scientists for scientists.
Our journal resides in the context of a scientific society that promotes our field and its practitioners. The Genetics Society of America represents us, advocates for us, convenes us, publicizes us, and fosters our work. It promotes genetics education, sponsors many of the most important meetings in our field, and much more. By submitting your best work to GENETICS, you are supporting our field in many ways.
Our journal and Society provide a professional and scientific thread that extends back to the founders of our field and points to our future. Help us maintain the integrity of our discipline by submitting your best work for publication in GENETICS, a peer-edited journal of the Genetics Society of America.
- Copyright © 2012 by the Genetics Society of America
Available freely online through the author-supported open access option.