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About Biology Direct

This page includes information about the aims and scope of Biology Direct, editorial policies, open access and article-processing charges, the peer review process and other information. For details of how to prepare and submit a manuscript through the online submission system, please see the instructions for authors.

Aims & scope

Biology Direct serves the life science research community as an open access, peer-reviewed online journal, providing authors and readers with an alternative to the traditional model of peer review. Biology Direct considers original research articles, hypotheses, comments, discovery notes and reviews in subject areas currently identified as those most conducive to the open review approach, primarily those with a significant non-experimental component.

The key aim of Biology Direct is to provide authors and readers with a novel system of peer review. This includes making the author responsible for selecting potentially suitable reviewers for their manuscript, from the journal's Editorial Board; making the peer review process open rather than anonymous; and making the reviewers' reports public, thus increasing the responsibility of the referees and eliminating sources of abuse in the refereeing process.

Edited by Eugene V Koonin, Laura F Landweber and David J Lipman, Biology Direct is supported by an international Editorial Board.

Open access

All articles published by Biology Direct are made freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication, without subscription charges or registration barriers. Further information about open access can be found here.

Authors of articles published in Biology Direct are the copyright holders of their articles and have granted to any third party, in advance and in perpetuity, the right to use, reproduce or disseminate the article, according to the BioMed Central copyright and license agreement.

For authors who are US government employees or are prevented from being copyright holders for similar reasons, BioMed Central can accommodate non-standard copyright lines. Please contact us if further information is needed.

Article-processing charges

Open access publishing is not without costs. Biology Direct therefore levies an article-processing charge of £1370/$2145/€1745 for each article accepted for publication. If the corresponding author's institution is a Member, the cost of the article-processing charge is covered by the membership, and no further charge is payable. In the case of authors whose institutions are Supporter Members, however, a discounted article-processing charge is payable by the author. We routinely waive charges for authors from low-income countries. For other countries, article-processing charge waivers or discounts are granted on a case-by-case basis to authors with insufficient funds. Authors can request a waiver or discount during the submission process. For further details, see our article-processing charge page.

Indexing services

All articles published in Biology Direct are included in PubMed, the most widely used biomedical bibliographic database service, which is run by the US National Library of Medicine. Other bibliographic databases that index articles published in Biology Direct include:

  • Biological Abstracts
  • CAS
  • Citebase
  • DOAJ
  • Embase
  • EmBiology
  • Google Scholar
  • OAIster
  • PubMed
  • PubMed Central
  • Science Citation Index Expanded
  • SCImago
  • Scopus
  • Zetoc

The full text of all research articles is deposited in PubMed Central, the US National Library of Medicine's full-text repository of life science literature, and other digital archives including e-Depot (The Netherlands).

The full text of all research articles published by BioMed Central is also available on SpringerLink.

Biology Direct is tracked by Thomson Reuters (ISI) and has an Impact Factor of 4.66.

Publication and peer review process

Content overview

Biology Direct currently publishes original research articles, hypotheses, comments, discovery notes and reviews in the following sections: Bioinformatics, Evolutionary biology, Genomics, Mathematical biology, Non-coding DNA & RNA, Structural & molecular biology and Systems biology. Further subject areas will be launched from time to time in subject areas identified as those most conducive to the open review approach, primarily those with a significant non-experimental component.

Subjects covered will include any aspect of molecular, cellular, organismal or population biology, as well as methods, theoretical and computational biology, comparative biology, and evolution. The journal aims to publish primarily articles that address salient aspects of fundamental problems in biology and, ideally, offer new perspectives on such problems.

Biology Direct considers the following types of articles:

Research: reports of data from original research.

Reviews: authoritative, critical discussions of any subject within the scope of the journal. These articles are usually written by opinion leaders that have been invited by the Editorial Board, but proposals (directed to one of the Editors in Chief) are welcome.

Hypotheses: short articles presenting an untested original hypothesis backed solely by previously published results rather than any new evidence.

Opinions: brief articles that express expert opinions and new views on major subjects within the scope of the journal.

Discovery notes: brief reports of specific discoveries made by computational analysis of nucleic acid and/or protein sequences, structures or other data, with novel observations and conclusions about the function, organization, or evolution of proteins, genes or genomes.

Peer-review policies

Biology Direct aims to provide a unique service to authors and readers of research articles, with a novel system of peer review. Key peer review aims are:

  • To remove the journal's role in reviewer selection, making the author responsible for suggesting suitable reviewers from the journal's Editorial Board.
  • To make the process of peer review open, rather than anonymous, thus eliminating the principal sources of abuse in the refereeing process.
  • By making the reviewers' reports public, to increase the responsibility of the referees and to provide readers with pointers as to the content and value of a publication.

These aims will be put into practice as follows.

  1. The Editors-in-Chief and Section Editors will assemble, for each subject area, a panel of potential reviewers who have agreed in advance to serve the journal and will form the Editorial Board.
  2. An author submitting a research article to the journal will consult the relevant subject panel and suggest appropriate Editorial Board members to peer-review the article. The peer review process will then be coordinated by BioMed Central staff, who will invite the reviewers on the author's behalf. In order to be eligible for publication in Biology Direct, three Editorial Board members are required to agree to assume responsibility for reviewing the manuscript.
  3. The journal will insist that the initially requested reviewers are drawn from the Editorial Board, however Editorial Board members can nominate a reviewer in their place. Only reviewers directly nominated by an Editorial Board member are eligible for review.
  4. In essence, an article is rejected from the journal if three Editorial Board members do not agree to review it.
  5. Any reviewer-author pair (both directions) will be allowed to appear in the journal no more than four times a year.
  6. Any author will be allowed to publish no more than two articles per year with the same three reviewers.
  7. Reviewers are asked to undertake a two-stage review, because once they agree formally to review an article they are essentially recommending eventual acceptance and publication. The first step for a reviewer is to skim-read the article so as to allow the reviewer to form an overall opinion of the article; if they feel they cannot have their name associated with the publication of this article, they can decline to provide a formal review. But if they agree to review, the second step is for the reviewer to prepare comments for the author but also, if they wish, to prepare 'public' comments, however critical, that will appear alongside the final version of the article when it is published. The reviewer comments to be published can take into account any revisions to the manuscript and therefore might differ substantially from the original comments to the authors, at the reviewer's discretion. The reviewer can also choose to publish no comments with the manuscript in which case it will be indicated, under the reviewer's name, that "This reviewer made no comments for publication".
  8. There will be a fairly tight time frame for the review process: if an Editorial Board member does not respond to a request for review within 72 hours, this will be considered to be a 'decline to review' and another reviewer will be sought. However, once an Editorial Board member agrees to review a manuscript, s/he will have 2 weeks to deliver the review. If the reviewer does not deliver comments promptly, the author will be in a position to elect to publish the manuscript accompanied by the name of the reviewer but without comments.
  9. The authors will be in a position to withdraw the manuscript if they do not wish to see it published alongside the reviews that have been received. The same article may not then be submitted through other Editorial Board members.
  10. As a safeguard against pseudoscience as well as manuscripts that have no significant scientific substance, an Editorial Board member reviewing a manuscript will have the option, in addition to writing a negative review, to alert the Section Editors that, in his/her opinion, a particular manuscript is not a legitimate scientific work and therefore should not be published in any form. The Editors-in-Chief will make the final decision in such cases. For further information, please see the instructions on how to proceed with Biology Direct's system of peer review. Please note the peer review requirements for discovery notes differ slightly from the process outlined above; please click here for full details.

Authors will be able to check the progress of their manuscript through the submission system at any time by logging into My Biology Direct, a personalized section of the site.


High-quality, bound reprints can be purchased for all articles published. Please see our reprints website for further information about ordering reprints.


Biology Direct will consider supplements based on proceedings (full articles or meeting abstracts), reviews or research. All articles submitted for publication in supplements are subject to peer review. Published supplements are fully searchable and freely accessible online and can also be produced in print. All full length articles (proceedings, reviews or research articles) are indexed by PubMed. PubMed displays the title of the supplement only in the case of meeting abstract collections. For further information, please contact us.

Editorial policies

All manuscripts submitted to Biology Direct should adhere to BioMed Central's editorial policies.

Citing articles in Biology Direct

Articles in Biology Direct should be cited in the same way as articles in a traditional journal. Because articles are not printed, they do not have page numbers; instead, they are given a unique article number.

Article citations follow this format:

Authors: Title. Biol Direct [year], [volume number]:[article number].

e.g. Roberts LD, Hassall DG, Winegar DA, Haselden JN, Nicholls AW, Griffin JL: Increased hepatic oxidative metabolism distinguishes the action of Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor delta from Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor gamma in the Ob/Ob mouse. Biol Direct 2009, 1:115.

refers to article 115 from Volume 1 of the journal.

Why publish your article in Biology Direct?

High visibility

Biology Direct's open access policy allows maximum visibility of articles published in the journal as they are available to a wide, global audience. Articles that have been especially highly accessed are highlighted with a 'Highly accessed' graphic, which appears on the journal's contents pages and search results.

Speed of publication

Biology Direct offers a fast publication schedule whilst maintaining rigorous peer review; all articles must be submitted online, and peer review is managed fully electronically (articles are distributed in PDF form, which is automatically generated from the submitted files). Articles will be published with their final citation after acceptance, in both fully browsable web form, and as a formatted PDF; the article will then be available through Biology Direct, BioMed Central and PubMed Central and will also be included in PubMed.


Online publication in Biology Direct gives authors the opportunity to publish large datasets, large numbers of color illustrations and moving pictures, to display data in a form that can be read directly by other software packages so as to allow readers to manipulate the data for themselves, and to create all relevant links (for example, to PubMed, to sequence and other databases, and to other articles).

Promotion and press coverage

Articles published in Biology Direct are included in article alerts and regular email updates. Some may be included in abstract books mailed to academics and are highlighted on Biology Direct's pages and on the BioMed Central homepage.

In addition, articles published in Biology Direct may be promoted by press releases to the general or scientific press. These activities increase the exposure and number of accesses for articles published in Biology Direct. A list of articles recently press-released by journals published by BioMed Central is available here.

Authors of articles published in Biology Direct retain the copyright of their articles and are free to reproduce and disseminate their work (for further details, see the BioMed Central copyright policy and license agreement).

For further information about the advantages of publishing in a journal from BioMed Central, please click here.