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The influence of the global COVID-19 pandemic on manuscript submissions and editor and reviewer performance at six ecology journals


Fox, Charles; Meyer, Jennifer (2020), The influence of the global COVID-19 pandemic on manuscript submissions and editor and reviewer performance at six ecology journals, Dryad, Dataset,


Government policies attempting to slow the spread of COVID-19 have reduced access to research laboratories and shifted many scholars to working from home. These disruptions will likely influence submissions to scholarly journals, and affect the time available for editors and reviewers to participate in peer review. In this editorial we examine how journal submissions, and editorial and peer review processes, have been influenced by the pandemic at six journals published by the British Ecological Society (BES). We find no evidence of a change in the geographic pattern of submissions from across the globe. We also find no evidence that submission of manuscripts by women has been more affected by pandemic disruptions than have submissions by men – the proportion of papers authored by women during the COVID period of 2020 has not changed relative to the same period in 2019. Editors handled papers just as quickly, and reviewers have agreed to review just as often, during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic. The one notable change in peer review during the pandemic is that reviewers replied more quickly to emails inviting them to review (albeit only 4% sooner), and those that agreed to review returned their reviews more quickly (17% sooner), during the pandemic. We thus find no evidence at these six ecology journals that submissions and peer review processes have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Also, contrary to analyses in other disciplines, we do not find evidence that there have been disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on female authors and reviewers.

Usage Notes

Because the dataset contains personally identifiable information, some columns, such as author locations, cannot be shared since they will allow de-anonymization of the authors. This means that many but not all results in the editorial associated with this data can be recreated with the datasets shared on Dryad.

msID is a random number, unique to each manuscript, separate from the original journal ID number.
Journal abbreviations:
FE = Functional Ecology
JAE = Journal of Animal Ecology
JAPPL = Journal of Applied Ecology
JEcol = Journal of Ecology
MEE = Methods in Ecology and Evolution

PaN = People and Nature

Submitting author = the author from whose account the manuscript was submitted to the journal in ScholarOne.