Editorials – Journal of Evolutionary Biology


2021 - Editorial by Wolf Blanckenhorn


Blanckenhorn, W. (2021), Editorial — New JEB managing Editor and updates to editorial procedures. DOI:10.1111/jeb.13773.

Download the JEB Editorial 2021 pdf file


2016 - Editorial by Michael G. Ritchie


During my four year spell as Editor in Chief of JEB, the most persistent questions I have been asked have concerned double blind reviewing and other issues around equality of opportunities. I am therefore very pleased to announce that we are about to instigate double blind reviewing at JEB. As of February 2016, all papers will be reviewed anonymously, that is, reviewers will not know the identity of the authors (as well as authors not knowing the identity of reviewers, unless this is waived). The JEB board of editors and ESEB executive have discussed the implication of this several times, and different models of blind reviewing. There is a healthy degree of scepticism about the merits or not of doing this (data is equivocal) and a frequently raised comment is that reviewers can usually guess the authors of papers. After deliberation we have rejected these criticisms; often guesses about authorship are wrong and even if one guesses the laboratory correctly, whether the paper is by a principle investigator or an early career stage researcher is unknown (and a major source of potential bias). We should embrace the benefits of double blind reviewing and avoid guess work! Most importantly, to my mind, is the simple fact that many of our members wish to see this introduced. We are a society journal, and should be receptive to the preferences of our members.

The editorial office and deciding editors will continue to know the source of manuscripts. While not ideal, the appropriate handling of papers (especially assigning reviewers) makes blind reviewing at the editorial stage almost unworkable, so we will continue with editors knowing authors’ identities. Editorial rejections are used very sparingly (currently around 10% of articles submitted) and only when we are confident that the paper is not in JEB remit or very unlikely to survive the review process for other reasons.

These are very interesting times for publishing with a whole range of publishing and reviewing models being promoted and adopted. As a society journal, I believe that the current model of JEB is appropriate. We accept Open Access papers if authors or funders request this, with reduced costs for society members. Our profit share from the journal is used to support the society and members, help with congresses and all the outreach and other excellent initiatives run by ESEB.

Another major debate over the last few years has concerned data availability. We require data deposition for papers published in JEB and believe this is appropriate for our field. If appropriate, embargos are possible, upon request. There are a whole raft of new suggestions being made to improve the reproducibility of research, including pre-registration of research plans, and we can expect further changes in our typical models of publishing over the next few years.

After discussion with the ESEB Executive I have extended my spell as Editor in Chief for a further two years, until 2017. I am extremely grateful to the Deciding Editors & Reviews Editor, all members of the Board of Reviewing Editors, our Managing Editor and others at the office in St Andrews, and all the staff at Wiley Blackwell who have helped keep JEB performing well over the last few years. JEB is functioning well as a society journal, providing a quality publishing outlet for our society members and the broader community of Evolutionary Biologists.

Mike Ritchie, St Andrews, Scotland

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2010 - Editorial by Allen Moore


Moore, A. J. (2010), WWDD? (What Would Darwin Do?). Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 23: 1–5.
doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01879.x

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2004 – Editorial by Juha Merilä


Since its foundation in 1987, the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) has become an active scientific community, with the latest congresses in Aarhus and Leeds attracting more than 700 and 800 scientists from all over the world, respectively. The number of ESEB members has been growing steadily over the years, with a remarkable 87% increase from 2002 (476) to 2003 (892).

The development of the ESEB has been intimately linked to the development of the society’s own journal – the Journal of Evolutionary Biology (JEB). The first volume of JEB was published in 1988 and it comprised 372 printed pages. The latest volume contained 1348 pages – an increase of 260% over a period of 15 years. In 2004, JEB will increase further in size to 1500 pages. Not only has JEB grown in size over time, but it has also become firmly established as one of the major outlets for evolutionary biology research on both sides of the Atlantic.

As for any journal keeping up with the times, important developments are continuously implemented as the journal ages. One of the most recent and important developments of JEB is the OnlineEarly service that became available in September 2003. On OnlineEarly, all JEB articles will be published in electronic format for reading and downloading on the journal webpage as soon as the authors have returned the page proofs. This means a considerable reduction in submission-to-print times, and hence, better service to our authors and readers.

Another important development to be implemented in the near future is the update of our electronic editorial office, Manuscript Central. A new improved version of this software will be going live in April 2004. This too will mean improved and more efficient services for authors and reviewers alike. It is also a welcome development for the current editorial team of JEB which is expecting to handle over 500 new submissions this year (Fig. 1).
Despite the continuous improvements and developments at the production end, JEB’s prime focus remains on publishing high quality papers important for our understanding of the evolutionary process. We specifically welcome contributions that integrate different approaches and methods to address important evolutionary questions. For any papers focused on important evolutionary problems, we do not discriminate between hi- or low-tech papers, but we particularly welcome papers incorporating evolutionary genomics and developmental approaches to evolutionary problems. Likewise, while we welcome both empirical and theoretical contributions, we encourage in particular those combining the two.

Helsinki 14.3.2004
Juha Merilä,


2000 – Editorial by Peter van Tienderen


Since its foundation in 1987, the European Society for Evolutionary Biology has become an active scientific community, with the latest congress in Barcelona attracting more than 850 scientists from all over the world. Evolutionary biology is indeed a lively and exciting field today. In part this is stimulated by advances in molecular and developmental biology. Molecular marker techniques are becoming more powerful, less time consuming and cheaper, facilitating detailed research on selection, mating and population structure, gene flow and biogeography. Sequence data is being used for phylogenetic reconstruction of the origins of species and gene families, and studies of the mechanisms behind evolving phenotypic reactions. The increase in computing power allows us to analyse more complex patterns and model more complex processes.

Evolutionary biology is still about natural and sexual selection, about speciation, about mutation and drift. Its laws are not necessarily deducible from molecular biology. Nevertheless, new developments may certainly allow us to say more about when certain characteristics have evolved, how many times, in what way the mechanisms differ, and why something evolved in some groups but not in others. Evolutionary biology is expected to become stronger in its historical and mechanistic content, and more detailed in its description and analysis of the ongoing processes.

Therefore, the Journal of Evolutionary Biology specifically welcomes contributions that connect knowledge on developmental mechanisms and the historical, phylogenetic context to pertinent evolutionary issues. The journal will also publish more (mini-)reviews, on topics in which remarkable new insights are gained (integrative studies, co-evolution, experimental evolution, molecular and chemical evolution). However, the journal’s prime focus is understanding the evolutionary process by whatever method appropriate, hi- or low-tech. Counting offspring cannot easily be automated, and seems rather central to many evolutionary problems.

We look forward to receiving manuscripts on your latest research on actual evolutionary topics. Our mutual goal is to make the results known to the world as best as possible. Publication time is now around six months, thanks to the reviewing by a dedicated editorial board and efficient editorial and printing procedures. The appealing layout of the journal, a new promotion campaign targeted specifically at colleagues working the same field, and a better accessibility of the Journal (e.g., through Blackwell’s on-line Synergy program) are the main keys to achieve this.

Peter van Tienderen,


1987 – Editorial by Stephen C. Stearns


The arguments against new journals are many, and some are convincing. New journals often signal the arrival of a new specialty; their rate of origin roughly measures the rate of fragmentation of science. New journals are expensive, and budgets, particularly library budgets, are limited. Adding a new journal to a subscription list often means dropping an old one. Because the literature is already too large and too fragmented for any one person to be able to keep up to date, adding a new journal just makes an already bad situation worse -it would be better to upgrade an existing journal than to create a new one. And so forth.

Nevertheless, with this issue a new journal is born, and the reasons for bringing it into existence had better be good. They are. The Journal of Evolutionary Biology comes into being not to create a new specialty, but to integrate a field. The opportunity to establish a new editorial policy has been used to bring together a set of special- ties that have not previously shared a common arena for discussion. The subscription price is being held as low as economic pressures will allow. The Journal is the official publication of a new Society, the European Society for Evolutionary Biology. As such it expresses the interests of a large and diverse group of scientists who had not previously shared a forum. While the Society is European, the Journal is thoroughly international, as the membership of the Editorial Board demonstrates.

The Journal has the following aims: (1) To provide an international forum for the integration of evolutionary research. (2) To bring together in one journal the perspectives of ecology, genetics, development, palaeontology, behavioral ecology, systematics, morphology, and molecular evolution. (3) To support the growth of evolutionary biology in Europe through its association with the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB).

The scope of the Journal is deliberately broad. It will publish work on both microevolution and macroevolution, on both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, on plants, animals, and other organisms. Because the excitement of science arises when ideas confront evidence in such a way that the ideas might have to change, the Journal will seek a balance, even a tension, between theory and data. Theories with no hope of application are not for this journal, nor are data uninformed by or without relevance for general ideas. To fulfill its integrative role, the Journal will give preference to papers that bring together two or more fields, showing the relevance, for example, of molecular evolution for development, of developmental mechanisms for macroevolutionary change, of quantitative genetics for ecology, or of phylogenetic systematics for the interpretation of adaptive hypotheses.

Most articles will be original research papers, but the Journal will also publish shorter notes, comments on previous articles, and book reviews. Thoughtful, integrative essays and critical reviews will be considered if they are not too long. The editorial policy is inclusive rather than exclusive – any interesting contribution to evolutionary biology will be a candidate for publication.

S. C. Stearns
Basel, 14 May 1987

Download the JEB Editorial 1987 pdf file