Editorial Policies

Focus and Scope

The Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE) publishes original, previously unpublished, peer-reviewed articles that foster scholarly teaching, and provide readily adoptable resources in biology education.  JMBE welcomes thoughtful and supported submissions pertaining to scholarly teaching in undergraduate, graduate and professional (e.g., medical school) education, K-12 outreach, and informal education.

The scope of the journal is rooted in the biological sciences and its branches to other disciplines.  Examples of articles JMBE accepts include those addressing good pedagogy and design, student interest and motivation, recruitment and retention, citizen science, and institutional transformation.

A unique feature of the JMBE editorial process is to provide extensive feedback, guidance, and support for authors from submission through publication.

JMBE is sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM; www.asm.org), the oldest and largest single life science membership organization in the world.  The JMBE Editorial Board is committed to providing open access content.

The journal features six core sections and one May-only section:

  • Letters to the Editor directly address articles published in this or other biology education journals.
  • Research is for hypothesis-driven research in student learning. Implicit in articles for this section is documentation of sound assessment strategies that support research conclusions.
  • Perspectives places a particular, current topic of science education into perspective. Articles focus on a specific topic, problem, or approach of broad, general interest to science educators, but do not primarily discuss the author's own work.
  • Curriculum includes field-tested activities that foster active learning and other best practices in education. Activities may be used in the classroom, laboratory, and/or field or online in blended and distance-learning experiences. Manuscripts in this category must include evaluations of the activities, and these evaluations must demonstrate effective learning.
  • Tips and Tools promote practical tips, suggestions, and advice for improving biology education.
  • Reviews include reviews of books and media, Journal Watch, and Web Watch.
  • ASMCUE Abstracts include accepted abstracts for the annual ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators. Abstracts are only included in the May issue of the Journal.

 

Section Policies

Letters to the Editor

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Unchecked Peer Reviewed

Research

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

Perspectives

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

Curriculum

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

Tips and Tools

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

Reviews

Checked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed

ASMCUE Abstracts

Unchecked Open Submissions Checked Indexed Checked Peer Reviewed
 

Peer Review Process

Peer-Review. All manuscripts are considered to be confidential and are reviewed by the editors, members of the editorial board, or qualified ad hoc reviewers. When a manuscript is submitted, it is given a number and sent to the editor. Corresponding authors are notified of this number. Always refer to this number in communications with the editor and the Education Department. It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to inform the coauthors of the manuscript’s status throughout the review and publication processes.

The reviewers operate under strict guidelines set forth in "Guidelines for Reviewers" and are expected to complete their reviews within two weeks after receiving the manuscript. The corresponding author is notified, about six weeks after the submission deadline for the volume, of the editor’s decision to accept, reject, or require modification. When a manuscript is returned to the corresponding author for modification, it should be returned to the editor within one month; otherwise it may be considered withdrawn. A point-for-point response to the reviews must be included with the revised manuscript; an extra copy of the revised manuscript should have the changes highlighted.

 

Manuscript Disposition. Manuscripts may be rejected upon receipt by the Editor-in-Chief and/or Editor if they do not fit the scope of the journal or section. In this case, the manuscript will not enter the review process, is considered rejected, and the Author will be asked to review the “Instructions to Authors” more thoroughly before resubmitting.

Once a manuscript is deemed appropriate for review, there are four possible final outcomes:

  • Editor enters a decision of “Decline Submission.” This indicates that the paper is not appropriate for publication and the Author will not be requested to resubmit. The manuscript will exit the system, marked as “Archived.”
  • Editor enters a decision of “Resubmit for Review.” This indicates that while the manuscript topic is engaging, there are major issues with formatting, inadequate data, or lack of assessment, among others. The manuscript will exit the system, marked as “Archived,” and the Author is requested to make extensive revisions based on Editor comments. The Author may submit a new manuscript when all reviewers’ concerns have been addressed. A new manuscript number will be assigned upon receipt of the new submission.
  • Editor enters a decision of “Revisions Required.” This indicates that the paper is acceptable, but minor revisions are necessary. The manuscript remains “Active” in the system. The author will upload a revised manuscript*, along with a cover letter indicating the changes made. The revised manuscript will be reconsidered by the Reviewers, and a final decision will be made.
  • Editor enters a decision of “Accept Submission.” The manuscript matches the focus and scope of the journal and is accepted for publication. It will move forward in the production process.
*Note: When preparing revised manuscripts, it is essential to carefully follow the instructions given in the Editor's letter. In particular, provide an annotated copy of the manuscript as well as a cover letter that addresses, point-by-point, the concerns of the Reviewers. Failure to do so will cause a delay in the review of the revised manuscript and may result in its return. Revised manuscripts must be uploaded under the “Editor Decision” section, located at the bottom on the manuscript’s Review page. Revisions received more than three months after requested may be held for another review cycle, at the Editor's discretion. If a revision is not received within six months after requested, the file may be closed and archived.

 

Publication Frequency

One JMBE volume is published each calendar year.  Each volume includes two issues, which are available electronically in May and December.  Submissions are accepted for review on a rolling basis. Upon acceptance for publication, manuscripts are assigned to a particular issue. To be included in a specific issue, manuscripts must be accepted in final form at least three months prior to the publication date.

Beginning in 2010, each May issue of JMBE will also feature abstracts for that year’s ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators (www.asmcue.org). The May issue will be printed and available for on-site distribution at the ASM General Meeting, ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators, and other educator meetings.

 

Open Access Policy

All individuals submitting materials for the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education must attest that they own the copyright and the materials are original; this includes text, figures, tables, artwork, abstracts, cover images, summaries, and supplemental materials included in the submission. Furthermore, corresponding authors must grant the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) an irrevocable nonexclusive license to publish their work if it is accepted. Upon publication, the work becomes freely available on ASM’s Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education website and PubMed Central’s Open Access subset for the public to copy, distribute, or display under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/; Legal Code: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode). If you have questions pertaining to classroom instruction or non-commercial derivatives use, please contact jmbe@asmusa.org.

 

Individuals authoring materials for Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education must grant an irrevocable nonexclusive copyright license to the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). Please complete the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education Author Agreement Form (pdf).

 

Ethical Guidelines

In recent years, editors of scientific journals increasingly have reported problems relating to the integrity of the research in submitted and published papers. Scientific errors and incorrect interpretations inevitably occur in the published literature, but authors who knowingly commit fraud or other scientific misconduct seriously compromise the integrity of the scientific record and the success of future scientific  research.

Authorship. Regarding authenticity of authorship, only those individuals who contributed directly to the intellectual content of the paper should be listed as such, with the implication that all of the following criteria have been met by the author(s) listed: (a) conceived and planned the work that led to the report; (b) wrote the paper, or reviewed successive versions and took part in the revision process; and (c) approved the final version. Holding positions of administrative leadership, contributing clients, and collecting and assembling data, are not, by themselves, criteria for authorship. Other persons who have made substantial, direct contributions to the work but cannot be considered authors should be acknowledged with their permission.

Previous or Duplicate Publication. In “Comments to the Editor,” give full details on any possible previous or duplicate publication of any content of the paper. Previous publication of a small fraction of the content of a paper does not necessarily preclude its being published, but members of the Editorial Board need information about previous publication when deciding how to use space in the journal efficiently; they regard failure of full disclosure by authors of possible prior publication as a breach of scientific ethics. Please send a copy of any document that might be considered a previous publication via email to the Editor-in-Chief, or provide this document during the submission process as a Supplementary file.

Conflict of Interest Notification. Conflict of interest exists when an author, reviewer, or editor has financial or personal relationships that could inappropriately bias or compromise his or her actions (such relationships are also known as dual commitments, competing interests, or competing loyalties). More specifically, the following considerations are illustrative and would need to be addressed: (a) Authors should identify individuals who provide writing or other assistance and disclose the funding source for this assistance. (b) Investigators must disclose potential conflicts to study participants and should state in the manuscript whether they have done so. (c) Authors should describe the role of the study sponsor(s), if any, in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the report for publication. If the supporting source had no such involvement, the authors should so state. (d) Editors may request that authors of a study funded by an agency with a proprietary or financial interest in the outcome sign a statement such as, “I had full access to all of the data in this study and I take complete responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.”

Such perceived conflicts--or their absence in a study-- must be disclosed by the author via the “Comments to the Editor” route when the manuscript is submitted. Additionally, either the presence or absence of perceived conflicts must be addressed on a Conflict of Interest Notification Page that follows the manuscript’s title page.

Project Funding. Sources of outside support for research, including funding, equipment, and drugs, must be named in the contributed manuscript. The role(s) of the funding organization, if any, in the collection of data, its analysis and interpretation, and in the right to approve or disapprove publication of the finished manuscript must be described in the Methods section of the text.

Informed Consent. The use of human subjects or other animals for research purposes is regulated by the federal government and individual institutions. Manuscripts containing information related to human or animal use should clearly state that the research has complied with all relevant federal guidelines and institutional policies.

Warranties and Exclusions. Articles published in this journal represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of ASM. ASM does not warrant the fitness or suitability, for any purpose, of any methodology, kit, product, or device described or identified in an article. The use of trade names is for identification purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by ASM.

 

Guidelines for Reviewers

Reviewing a manuscript written by a fellow scientist is a privilege. It is also an exciting and enjoyable educational experience. However, it is also a time-consuming responsibility. ASM and its editors, authors, and readers therefore appreciate your willingness to accept this responsibility and your dedication.

Please watch the 10-minute JMBE How-To Series: Reviewing Manuscripts for JMBE and then read the Guidelines below. We hope that these resources will help make your job easier.

General Policies and Procedures

Authors submit their manuscripts electronically via Open Journal Systems (OJS) to ASM. Each manuscript is reviewed by ASM staff for relevancy to JMBE and the section to which it was submitted. Should a question arise, the production editor will contact the editor in chief (or an appropriate editor), who then decides whether the manuscript should be transferred to another section of the journal, editorially rejected owing to scope, or retained for review by the section to which it was submitted. If retained, the manuscript is assigned to an editor, who in turn chooses one or more editorial board members or ad hoc reviewers to review it.

On receipt of the invitation to review, you should immediately:

  • Read the editor's transmittal e-mail, which includes the article abstract, to determine whether the subject is within your area of expertise and whether you can complete the review in the stated time period.
  • Log on to OJS and either accept or decline the invitation to review.

If you decline the invitation to review:

  • Indicate why you are declining.
  • You may not “transfer” your invitation to review the manuscript to a colleague.

If you accept the invitation to review, you will have access to the complete PDF of the manuscript and should immediately:

  • Double-check the manuscript to determine whether there is any conflict of interest for you.  Should there be an inadvertent reference in the paper that suggests there is any conflict of interest for you (with the authors, their institution, or their funding sources) please determine whether you can judge the article impartially. (See also last section of these Guidelines.)
  • Quickly skim the relevant portions of the manuscript and verify that it fits within the scope of the journal.

If you have either a time problem or a conflict of interest, contact the assigning editor for instructions. The editor may extend your deadline or cancel the review assignment as appropriate. If your cursory examination reveals that the manuscript does not fit within the scope of the journal, indicate that in the "For the Editor" section of the review form.

Do not discuss the paper with its authors either during or after the review process. Although it may seem natural and reasonable to discuss points of difficulty or disagreement directly with an author, especially if you are generally in favor of publication and do not mind revealing your identity, this practice is prohibited because the other reviewer and the editor may have different opinions, and the author may be misled by having "cleared things up" with the reviewer who contacted him/her directly.

The manuscript provided to you for review is a privileged document. Please protect it from any form of exploitation. Do not cite a manuscript or refer to the work it describes before it has been published and do not use the information that it contains for the advancement of your own research or in discussions with colleagues.  In your comments intended for the author, do not make statements about the acceptability of a paper (see the next paragraph); suggested revisions should be stated as such and not expressed as conditions of acceptance.

Organize your review so that an introductory paragraph summarizes the major findings of the article, gives your overall impression of the paper, and highlights the major shortcomings. This paragraph should be followed by specific, numbered comments, which, if appropriate, may be subdivided into major and minor points. (The numbering facilitates both the editor's letter to the author and evaluation of the author's rebuttal.) Criticism should be presented dispassionately; offensive remarks are not acceptable.  Confidential remarks directed to the editor should be entered in the box labeled “For the Editor.” Advise the editor in this section of your recommendation for acceptance, modification, or rejection. The final decision regarding modification, acceptance, or rejection of a manuscript rests solely with the editor, so do not state your recommendation in the portion of the review that will be sent to the author.

After completing your review, click the Submit Review button. There is no need to make a copy of your review because it will be saved in your Reviewing History in OJS.

The Review

Adopt a positive, impartial, but critical attitude toward the manuscript under review, with the aim of promoting effective, accurate, and relevant scientific communication.

Please consider the following aspects when reviewing a manuscript:

  • Significance to the target educational community
  • Originality
  • Appropriateness of the approach or evaluation/assessment
  • Appropriateness of the statistical analyses
  • Adherence to correct scientific nomenclature
  • Appropriate literature citations
  • Adequacy of experimental techniques or pedagogical approach
  • Soundness of conclusions and interpretation
  • Organization
  • Adherence to the Instructions to Authors
  • Adequacy of title and abstract
  • Appropriateness of figures and tables
  • Appropriateness of supplemental material intended for posting (if applicable)
  • Length
  • Whether it describes misuse of microbial systems or the information derived therefrom
  • Appropriate safety considerations

You are not required to correct deficiencies of style, syntax, or grammar, but any help you can give in clarifying meaning will be appreciated. In particular, point out the use of scientific jargon, misspellings of chemical names, use of outmoded terminology or incorrect genetic nomenclature, and use of misspelled, incorrect, or outdated scientific names of organisms.

Your criticisms, arguments, and suggestions concerning the paper will be most useful to the editor and to the author if they are carefully documented. Do not make dogmatic, dismissive statements, particularly about the novelty of the work. Substantiate your statements.

Reviewer's recommendations are gratefully received by the editor; however, since editorial decisions are usually based on evaluations derived from several sources, reviewers should not expect the editor to honor every recommendation. You will be asked to suggest acceptability as noted on the specific review form (e.g., accept; accept with revision; reject; modify, rereview required).

To note:

  • Very few papers qualify for an immediate, unconditional acceptance.
  • There are many reasons to reject a paper. In general, if there are serious flaws in experimental design, incorrect interpretation of data, extensive additional experiments required, or any organizational or English usage flaws that prevent critical review of the manuscript, then recommend that the manuscript be rejected.
  • If you feel that the deficiencies can be corrected within a reasonable period of time (1 to 2 months), then recommend modification.
Should you review manuscripts for more than one section of JMBE, note that their review forms and categories may vary.

ASM Publication Policies; Ethics

Although the staff at ASM and the journal editors may be able to note a breach of publication policy or ethical conduct after publication, we rely heavily on the reviewers to detect such problems before publication. JMBE publication policies are described in the “Author Guidelines” section of the journal website. Author Guidelines are updated each year in December. Examine them each year for changes.

Some of the items for which you should be alert include:

  • Plagiarism – Plagiarism is not limited to the Results and Discussion sections; it can involve any part of the manuscript, including figures and tables, in which material is copied from another publication without attestation, reference, or permission. Note that wording does not have to be exact to be copyright infringement; use of very similar words in almost the same sequence can also be infringement. Data themselves are not copyrightable, but their presentation is.
  • Missing or incomplete attestation – Authors must give appropriate credit to ideas, concepts, and data that have been published previously. This is accomplished by the inclusion of references. Missing, incomplete, or incorrect references must be brought to the editor's attention.
  • Dual submission and/or publication – Be wary of attempts to submit/publish similar material more than once. This is often difficult to detect "before the fact," but checking literature citations, as well as having a critical eye, is helpful.
  • Conflicts of interest – If you are aware of any commercial affiliations, consultancies, stock or equity interests, or patent-licensing arrangements on the part of the authors, bring them to the attention of the editor.  Note that similar conflicts of interest on your part must also be brought to the attention of the editor, who may, at his discretion, subsequently cancel your invitation to review the manuscript. If one of the manuscript authors is at your institution, there could be a perceived conflict of interest, and you should immediately contact the editor so that another individual can be invited to review the manuscript in your place.

In summary, you must communicate suspicions of policy or ethics problems directly to the editor, who in turn will contact the editor in chief. Under no circumstance should you contact the author directly. ASM has policies for investigation and resolution of such problems and these must be followed.