Interactive public discussion, peer review, and publication in SOIL

The process of interactive discussion, peer review, and publication in the scientific journal SOIL differs from traditional scientific journals to enhance quality by transparency. It involves a discussion stage, where the manuscript is posted as preprint on EGU's preprint repository EGUsphere followed by public commenting by the referees, authors, and other members of the scientific community. All participants are encouraged to stimulate further deliberation rather than simply defend their position. Authors are invited to take an active role in the exchange by posting comments as a response to referee and community comments as soon as possible in order to stimulate further discussion. The handling editor bases their final decision on the authors' response to all comments and their corresponding revision.

In all cases, also if no additional comments from the scientific community are received, a full peer-review process in the traditional sense, albeit in a more transparent way, is assured before publication of a paper in SOIL. The entire review process is guided by SOIL topical editors and the SOIL review criteria are applied.

The process includes the following steps:

  • Submission of original manuscript and editor assignment

    Original manuscripts are submitted and assigned to topical editors covering the relevant subject areas.

  • Access review

    The handling topical editor is asked to evaluate whether the manuscript is within the scope of the journal and whether it meets a basic scientific quality. They can suggest technical corrections (typing errors, clarification of figures, etc.) before posting the manuscript as a preprint. Further requests for revision of the scientific contents are not permitted at this stage of the review process but shall be expressed in the interactive discussion.

  • Open discussion (6 weeks) on EGUsphere

    After acceptance of the manuscript for public peer review and discussion, it appears as a preprint and is citable with a digital object identifier (DOI). The discussion phase represents a unique opportunity to engage in an iterative and developmental reflective process. During this phase interactive comments can be posted by nominated referees (anonymous or named) and by interested members of the scientific community (named). All participants are encouraged to stimulate further deliberation rather than simply to defend their position. This enhancement-led process is offered to maximize the impact of the article. Normally, every preprint receives at least two referee comments. Authors are invited to take an active role in the debate by posting author comments as a response to referee comments and comments of the scientific community as soon as possible in order to stimulate further discussion by interested scientists. After the open discussion, no additional community comments and referee comments are accepted. Only contact authors and the handling editor have the opportunity to post author and editor comments, respectively, beyond the open discussion.

  • Final response and peer-review completion

    After the open discussion, the authors are expected to publish a response to all comments within four weeks, in case they have not done so during the open discussion. Based on the responses, the topical editor either invites the authors to submit a revised manuscript or the topical editor and executive editor directly reject the manuscript. If necessary the topical editor may also consult referees in the same way as during the completion of a traditional peer-review process.

  • Publication of final revised paper in SOIL

    In the case of acceptance, the final revised paper is typeset and proofread. Then it is published on the SOIL website with a direct link to the preceding preprint and interactive discussion. In addition, all referee and topical editor reports, the authors' response, as well as the different manuscript versions of the peer-review completion will be published. All publications (preprint, interactive comments, final revised paper) are permanently archived, citable, and remain accessible to the open public.

The timing indicated above is a guideline which may have to be modified according to the availability and response times of editors, referees, and authors.

The submission of comments and replies which continue the discussion of scientific papers beyond the limits of immediate interactive discussion is encouraged. Such peer-reviewed comments undergo the same process of peer review and publication as described above: after appearance and discussion, they may also be published in SOIL if sufficiently substantial.

If a manuscript that has been posted as a preprint is not accepted for publication as a final paper in SOIL, the authors have several options to proceed as outlined under frequently asked questions, point 6. For further information on the definition and standing of manuscripts in discussion, please read the EGU Position Statement.

Types of interactive comments

In the interactive public discussion, the following types of interactive comments can be submitted for immediate non-peer-reviewed publication alongside the preprint (manuscript in discussion):

  • Community comments (CCs) can be posted by any registered member of the scientific community (free online registration). Such comments are attributed, i.e. posted under the name of the commenter.
  • Referee comments (RCs) can only be posted by the referees involved in the peer review of the manuscript in discussion. They can be anonymous or attributed (according to the referee's preference).
  • Editor comments (ECs) can only be posted by the editor of the manuscript in discussion.
  • Author comments (ACs) can only be posted by the contact authors of the manuscript in discussion on behalf of all co-authors. Co-authors can post CCs but not ACs. After the open discussion, during the final response, the author comments should be structured in a clear and easy-to-follow sequence: (1) comments from referees/community, (2) author's response, and (3) author's changes in manuscript.

The authors and editor of a manuscript in open discussion are automatically informed via email about comments in the interactive public discussion. Alert services are also available to other members of the scientific community. The interactive discussion is supervised but not actively moderated by the editors, who have the option of censoring comments that are not of substantial nature or of direct relevance to the issues raised in the manuscript in discussion or which contain personal insults. Authors are advised to follow the discussion of their preprint and to notify the Copernicus Publications Editorial Support and the handling editor in case of abusive comments. The SOIL editorial board reserves the right to exclude abusive commenters.

All comments receive a DOI and are fully citable and archived. Comments can be composed by using the WYSIWYG editor for HTML content. More complex content can be uploaded as a *.pdf file and will be displayed as a supplement to the comment. Figures can directly be included in the comment.

Useful links

Chart of the Interactive Public Peer ReviewTM

Peer Review

  1. 1. Submission
  2. 2. Access review
  3. 3. Technical corrections
  4. 4. MS posted on EGUsphere
  5. 5. Comments
  6. 6. Final response
  7. 7. Post-discussion editor decision
  8. 8. Revision
  9. 9. Peer-review completion
  10. 10. Final revised publication