Publishing with eLife: Submitting with our new model

How do you submit your research to eLife’s new model and what questions should you ask before submitting?

Submitting your research can leave a lot of unanswered questions, especially if it’s your first time submitting with eLife. What happens after you submit and what goes on behind the scenes? To help you better understand the submission process, we’re taking you through each step.

Before you submit

The first step is to find the right journal for your work. eLife’s aims and scope clearly outline the major subject areas we cover and link to the latest research in those fields. Another way to ensure a good fit is finding research on related topics to your work in the journal.

You should also make sure that the journal’s policies and approach to publishing align with your goals and values, as well as any institutional or funding requirements you might have. What should you expect regarding the transparency of peer review, policies around data availability, publication and research ethics, and what happens to the copyright of your work?

While the information here will focus on eLife’s submission process, Think Check Submit is a free and independent service that can help guide you through useful questions to ask when choosing where to submit.

Preprinting ahead of submission

Before submitting to a journal, you may want to share a preprint of your work.

A preprint is a version of your research that’s posted to a public server, often prior to any formal review. A preprint helps communicate your research quickly where others can start to make use of it, it establishes your priority for your findings, and it can be a way to get early feedback from your peers.

If you do decide to post a preprint it can help streamline your eLife submission.

eLife Submission checklist

When you start your submission it can help to have a few things ready. Don’t worry if not; you can always create a partial submission and come back later.

  • if you have already posted a preprint, your preprint DOI
  • the title and abstract of your paper
  • information about each author: their name, email, institution, city, and country
  • the most appropriate subject area(s) for your research
  • suggestions or exclusions of Senior Editors and Reviewing Editors
  • potential reviewers – we welcome a diverse set of suggestions, including people from eLife's pool of early-career reviewers
  • licensing information: we use a Creative Commons Attribution license, except where otherwise noted
  • who will be paying the fee – or you can request to waive the fee where necessary
  • ensure your files are ready to be uploaded (ideally combined as a single PDF file in the first instance, although you can upload large supplementary files separately)

Submitting your research

When choosing to submit to eLife, it’s important to understand the experience and the outputs you will get from our new model. There is no accept/reject decision after peer review: rather, the preprints we review are published on the eLife website as a Reviewed Preprint that includes an eLife assessment, public reviews, and a provisional response from the authors (if they provide one). We publish several types of articles as Reviewed Preprints so consider which best fits your work.

Three ways to submit:

1. Transfer from bioRxiv or medRxiv
You can submit your research to eLife by first sharing a preprint of your work on bioRxiv or medRxiv and transferring the work across for consideration. This can streamline the submission process, but you’ll still have a chance to add details before the submission is finalised later.

2. Submit to us directly (preprint first)
If you already have a preprint on bioRxiv or medRxiv, you can enter the preprint DOI in the eLife submissions platform and use the Import link to pull in the files and key information from the preprint.

3. Submit to us directly (preprint later)
You can submit to eLife directly without first having posted a preprint. We’ll collect the information we need to be able to post a preprint on your behalf if we proceed with peer review.

When you’re ready to submit you can login or sign up to our submissions platform here (or use the transfer service from bioRxiv or medRxiv).

What happens after you’ve submitted?

Typically a number of editors, who are all active researchers and experts in their field, are involved in deciding whether to review each submission. A Deputy Editor and a Senior Editor consider each submission, and in most cases a Senior Editor will consult with several Reviewing Editors. A number of submissions would be better served being peer reviewed within a more specialised community and on occasion we may not have editors who are available and interested in taking a paper through the review process.

Editorial screening and research integrity

During the submission and review process we will conduct a series of editorial and research integrity checks. This includes plagiarism detection for new submissions, and image screening for papers sent for peer review.

For medical submissions, we’ll ask for ICMJE forms; in other cases we may ask for PDB maps and coordinate files; and sometimes we’ll request an Inclusion in Global Research form. Later on, we’ll ask for things such as source data for gels and blots.

Peer review

Our editors select experts to review the work independently, and then the editors and reviewers discuss the reviews with each other in a constructive, consultative process. The editors and reviewers discuss which terms best describe the significance of the findings and strength of evidence, to help arrive at an eLife assessment.

You will receive the eLife assessment, the Public Reviews, and also recommendations that can be implemented as part of a revision. This can help you understand what changes could help improve your paper and whether it might lead to an updated eLife assessment. The letter to the authors is prepared by the Reviewing Editor, with input from the Senior Editor, staff, and a final check by a Deputy Editor.

Once you have received the eLife assessment, public reviews, you have two weeks before the Reviewed Preprint is published. You can use this time to raise concerns about any factual errors or provide a provisional author response to accompany the first version of your Reviewed Preprint. Your provisional author response can address the eLife assessment and public reviews, either in the form of a few summary paragraphs, or by addressing each comment in turn: this can outline the revisions that are planned or add points of clarification. If you would prefer to accelerate publication of the Reviewed Preprint, please let us know.

Once this stage is complete, your work is published as a Reviewed Preprint.

You’ve published your Reviewed Preprint v1

This is only a step on your paper’s journey and it doesn’t need to be a final one. Your Reviewed Preprint version 1, citable, sharable and with its own DOI, is now openly available alongside trusted expert review and commentary, where it can start having an impact in your field and beyond.

Most authors will later revise their work and address some or all of the reviewer comments and suggestions. This can help further refine your work, and will form part of its living record. In these cases a revised version of the Reviewed Preprint will be published after the editors and reviewers have had an opportunity to consider updating the eLife assessment and public reviews.

Our approach to publishing helps create an open record of research communication that doesn’t squander research outputs when they can be of use to research communities. Your research is shared together with the valuable contributions of reviewers and editors, which can help readers better understand your preprint’s strengths and limitations, while empowering authors as they decide in what ways they revise and update their work.


We welcome comments and questions from researchers as well as other journals. Please annotate publicly on the article or contact us at hello [at] elifesciences [dot] org.

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