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

Charles W. Fox, Jennifer Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

16 Scopus citations


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 who 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-10
Number of pages7
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the British Ecological Society for providing access to the data necessary to perform the analyses presented here. I also thank the Assistant Editors of the BES journals (Simon Hoggart, Alice Plane, Rhiannon Robins, Minhyuk Seo, Kirsty Scandrett and India Stephenson) for extracting these data from ScholarOne Manuscripts. Thanks also to Josiah Ritchey for running GenderizeR, and to Emilie Aimé, Andrea Baier, Ruth Bryan, Lara Ferry, Catherine Hill, Brian Lee, Alan Knapp, Enrico Rezende, Josiah Ritchey and Ken Thompson for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 British Ecological Society


  • authorship
  • editorial boards
  • gender
  • pandemic
  • peer review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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