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Publishing and peer review at eLife

Reviewed Preprints combine the advantages of preprints with the scrutiny offered by peer review.

eLife reviews preprints in the life sciences and medicine, and is committed to improving peer review to better convey the assessments made by editors and reviewers. Our approach brings together the immediacy and openness of a preprint with the scrutiny of peer review by experts.

Diagram showing the steps to publishing at eLife. These are Submit your research, decision to review, consultative peer review, Reviewed Preprint published, provide your revisions (optional) and version of record (optional).

The main features of this approach are:

  • We only review articles that have been made available as preprints.

  • Editors who are active researchers decide which preprints are reviewed, generally selecting those preprints where the reviews will be of greatest value to readers.

  • Editors and reviewers discuss the reviews with each other.

  • There is no accept/reject decision after peer review: rather, every article we review is published on the eLife website as a Reviewed Preprint. This is a new type of integrated publication that includes the article, an eLife assessment, public reviews, and a response from the authors (if available).

  • Where the reviewers disagree with the manuscript’s claims, this is made explicit within the eLife assessment and public reviews.

  • We do not artificially limit the number of articles we review or publish.

  • At any point following peer review, authors can choose to have their Reviewed Preprint published as a regular journal article (known as the Version of Record) to mark the end of the evaluation and publishing process.

  • The fee for publishing an article with eLife is $2,000, charged at the point we commit to peer reviewing the article.

  • ​​Publication of an eLife Version of Record complies with all major funding agency requirements for immediate online access to the published results of their research grants. An increasing number of funders are also recognising Reviewed Preprints in research assessment. 

The eLife peer-review process produces the following outputs:

  1. An eLife assessment that summarises the significance of the findings and the strength of the evidence; the editor and the reviewers write this assessment with the help of a common vocabulary to ensure consistency. It is published immediately below the abstract of the Reviewed Preprint.

  2. Public reviews that describe the strengths and weaknesses of the article, and indicate whether the claims and conclusions are justified by the data. The public reviews are published as an integral part of the Reviewed Preprint.

  3. Recommendations for the authors, including suggestions for revising and improving the article. These recommendations are not included in the Reviewed Preprint. 

The model of peer review described above was introduced in January 2023. For a limited period authors can ask for submissions to be reviewed under eLife’s traditional model (which includes an accept/reject decision after peer review).