Guide for authors

1. Introduction to PCI and PCI Evol Biol

2. Editorial policy

2.1 Scope

2.2 Type of articles

2.3 Repeatability of science and open science

2.4 Ethics

3. Submission guidelines

3.1 Requirements

3.1.1 Deposition of the MS and supplementary information

3.1.2 Ethics

3.2 Formatting guidelines 

3.2.1 Word limits and formatting requirements

3.2.2 Manuscript structure and organization

3.3 Submitting a preprint

3.4 Submitting a preprint anonymously

4. The evaluation and recommendation process

4.1 Overview

4.2 Transparent review

4.3 Handling of manuscripts by recommenders

4.4 Appeals process

1. Introduction to PCI and PCI Evol Biol

PCI Evol Biol is a community of recommenders, playing the role of associate editors, who recommend unpublished articles based on peer reviews to make them complete, reliable and citable articles, without the need for publication in ‘traditional’ journals. Evaluation and recommendation by PCI Evol Biol are free of charge. When recommenders decide to recommend an article, they write a recommendation text that is published along with all the editorial correspondence (reviews, recommender's decisions, authors’ replies) by PCI Evol Biol. The article itself is not published by PCI Evol Biol; it remains on the preprint server where it was posted by the authors. PCI Evol Biol recommenders can also recommend postprints, but this is done to a lesser extent.

PCI Evol Biol is a community of the parent project Peer Community In, an original idea of Denis Bourguet, Benoit Facon and Thomas Guillemaud.

PCI Evol Biol is not designed to be a free peer reviewing service for authors aiming to improve their articles before submission to a journal, although, of course, it remains possible to submit a recommended preprint to a traditional journal​.

  • PCI Evol Biol is stimulating: it recommends remarkable articles.
  • PCI Evol Biol is free: there are no fees associated with the evaluation process, and no charge for access to the comments and recommendations. The website is freely accessible.
  • PCI Evol Biol is transparent: reviews and recommendations (for unpublished articles) and recommendations (for published articles) are freely available for consultation. Recommendations are signed by the recommenders. Reviews may also be signed if the reviewers agree to do so
  • PCI Evol Biol is not exclusive: an article may be recommended by different Peer Communities in X (a feature of particular interest for articles relating to multidisciplinary studies), and may even be published in a traditional journal (although this is not the goal of PCI Evol Biol).​​

2. Editorial policy​

2.1 Scope​​​

​PCI Evol Biol will evaluate preprints, and to a lesser extent postprints, dealing with all fields of Evolutionary Biology and in particular with these subjects: Adaptation, Behavior & Social Evolution, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Evo-Devo, Evolutionary Applications, Evolutionary Dynamics, Evolutionary Ecology, Evolutionary Epidemiology, Evolutionary Theory, Experimental Evolution, Expression Studies, Genetic conflicts, Genome Evolution, Genotype-Phenotype, Human Evolution, Hybridization / Introgression, Life History, Macroevolution, Molecular Evolution, Morphological Evolution, Non Genetic Inheritance, Paleontology, Phenotypic Plasticity, Phylogenetics / Phylogenomics, Phylogeography & Biogeography, Population Genetics / Genomics, Quantitative Genetics, Reproduction and Sex, Sexual Selection, Speciation, Species interactions, Systematics / Taxonomy

The preprints submitted to PCI Evol Biol may describe empirical or theoretical studies, and be based on observations from experiments or nature, or previously acquired data. They may also report the results of verbal, computer or mathematical models. Studies of methodologies are also appreciated. Perspectives, reviews and opinions and comments on previously published articles are also welcome. 

​PCI Evol Biol recommends only preprints of high scientific quality that are methodologically and ethically sound. To this end, PCI Evol Biol: 
- Requires data, computer codes and mathematical and statistical analysis scripts to be made available to reviewers and recommenders at the time of submission and to readers after recommendation. 
- Welcomes reproductions of studies
- Welcomes preprint submissions based on preregistrations (whether or not reviewed) 
- Welcomes preprints reporting negative results, provided that the questions addressed and the methodology are sound. 
- Does not accept submissions of preprints presenting financial conflicts of interest. Other conflicts of interest must be minimal and declared. 
- Ensures that, as far as possible, the recommenders and referees have no conflict of interest with the content or authors of the study being evaluated. 

PCI Evol Biol does not guarantee the evaluation or recommendation of all submitted preprints. Only preprints considered interesting by at least one competent recommender (equivalent to an associate editor in a classical journal) will be peer reviewed. The interest of the preprint, as determined by the recommender, can relate to its context, the scientific question addressed, the methodology, or the results. PCI Evol Biol has a large number of recommenders, ensuring a considerable diversity of interests. The recommendations published by PCI Evol Biol are designed to draw the attention of the research community to the qualities of the article, including the subjective reasons for the recommender’s interest in it.​

2.2 Type of articles

The articles recommended may be of different types: reviews, comments, opinion papers, research articles, data papers, technical notes, computer notes, etc. Preregistrations should be submitted to PCI Registered Reports.​

2.3 Repeatability of science and open science​

PCI wants to promote scientific repeatability and reliability to improve the overall robustness and integrity of our scientific conclusions. To this aim, PCI has set up three mandatory rules and makes two suggestions to authors:

Mandatory rules:

​Articles recommended by PCI must provide the readers with: 
-Raw data, made available directly in the text or through an open repository, such as Zenodo, Dryad or some other institutional repository (see Directory of Open Access Repositories) with a DOI. Data must be reusable, and the metadata and accompanying text must, therefore, carefully describe the data. ​

-Details on the quantitative analyses (e.g. data treatment and statistical scripts in R, bioinformatic pipeline scripts, etc.) and details concerning simulations (scripts, codes) in the text or through an open repository, such as Zenodo, Dryad or some other institutional repository (see Directory of Open Access Repositories) with a DOI. The scripts or codes must be carefully described such that another researcher can run them. 
-Details on experimental procedures must be given in the text.​

Suggestions to authors:

​​​​-PCI encourages authors to submit preprints based on preregistrations: Authors may post their research questions and analysis plan to an independent registry before observing the research outcomes, and, thus, before writing and submitting their article. This provides a way of clarifying their hypotheses, avoiding confusing “postdictions” and predictions, and carefully planning appropriate statistical treatment of the data (e.g. see 10.1073/pnas.1708274114).​​​

-Preregistrations should be submitted to PCI Registered Reports

-PCI welcomes submissions proposing replication studies. All submissions are assessed according to the same criteria, provided that the article is considered interesting by the recommender handling it and the research question is judged to be scientifically valid.​​​

2.4 Ethics​

Peer Community In is a member of and subscribes to the principles of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). In addition:

  • Financial conflicts of interest are forbidden, see the PCI code of conduct.
  • Authors should declare any potential non-financial conflict of interest.

3. Submission guidelines

3.1 Requirements

3.1.1 Deposition of the MS and supplemenatry information

  • Authors should first post their article on a preprint server, such as bioRxiv or arXiv (see details). When the article has appeared on this server, authors can submit their article to PCI Evol Biol.
  • Supplementary information must be available through deposition in an open repository, such as Zenodo, Dryad or institutional repositories. 

3.1.2 Ethics

When submitting their manuscripts for recommendation by PCI Evol Biol, authors should agree to respect the following points, defined by the European Association for Science Editors:

 Original or acceptable secondary publication

  • No part of the manuscript (MS) has been published, except for passages that are properly cited.
  • In the MS, original data are clearly distinguished from published data. All information extracted from other publications is provided with citations.


  • All people listed as authors of the MS meet the authorship criteria, i.e. they contributed substantially to study planning, data collection or the interpretation of results and wrote or critically revised the MS and approved its final submitted version and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work (ICMJE 2017).
  • All people listed as authors of the MS are aware of their authorship and have agreed to be listed.
  • No person who meets the authorship criteria has been omitted.

Ethical experimentation and interpretation

  • If the study reported in the MS involved human participants, it should meet the ethical principles of the Declaration of Helsinki (WMA 2013).
  • If appropriate, the study reported in the MS should meet the Consensus Author Guidelines on Animal Ethics and Welfare for Veterinary Journals concerning humane treatment of animals and should be approved by an ethical review committee.
  • In fields of research requiring approval from an ethics committee or institutional review board, the authors should generally ensure that all the necessary approvals have been obtained before submission.
  • The authors should include a statement in the manuscript that informed consent was obtained, for experimentation with human subjects.
  • The authors should do their best to avoid errors in experimental design, data presentation, interpretation, etc. However, should they nevertheless ​discover any serious error in the MS (before or after recommendation), they will alert PCI Evol Biol
  • None of the data presented in the MS has been fabricated or distorted, and no valid data have been excluded. Images shown in figures have not been manipulated to make a false impression on readers.
  • The study results have been interpreted objectively. Any findings that run contrary to the authors’ point of view are discussed in the MS.
  • The article does not, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, contain anything that is libelous, illegal, infringes anyone’s copyright or other rights, or poses a threat to public safety.


  • All sources of funding for the study reported in the MS are stated.
  • All people who are not listed as authors but contributed considerably to the study reported in the MS or assisted in its writing (e.g. author’s editors, translators, medical writers) are mentioned in the Acknowledgements.
  • All people named in the Acknowledgements have agreed to be mentioned. They are not, however, responsible for the final version of the
  • Consent has been obtained from the authors of any unpublished data cited in the MS.
  • The owners of the copyright to any previously published figures or tables have agreed to their inclusion in the MS.

Conflict of interest

  • Financial conflicts of interest are forbidden, see the PCI code of conduct.
  • Authors should declare any potential non-financial conflict of interest.

Reference Sources

3.2 Formatting guidelines

3.2.1 Word limits and formatting requirements

Although PCI Evol Biol imposes no word limits or specific formatting requirements on submissions, authors are requested to respect the following guidelines to ​facilitate peer review:

  • Lines must be numbered
  • Tables and figures must be located in the main text, not at the end of the manuscript.
  • All the abbreviations used in the article should be defined, except those obvious to non-specialists.
  • As PCI Evol Biol does not copy-edit articles, authors should pay careful attention to typographical and other errors. A recommended article should be as close to perfect as possible in form, because it is a finished article.
  • The text should be cohesive, logically organized, and, thus, easy to follow.
  • The presence of all tables and figures, additional materials, the accessibility of the data, scripts and codes and accuracy of the references must be checked.

Manuscripts should be as concise as possible, but as long as necessary, to ensure that the description of the rationale and methods is clear and comprehensive, and that all methods are reproducible. Authors should ensure that they follow established formatting conventions for articles in their discipline. Authors who intend to publish their article in a journal afterward should also take note of any sectional or overall word limits or other formatting requirements applying to the journal trageted.

3.2.2 Manuscript structure and organization

Submissions should usually include the following sections (reviews, commentaries and opinions may have a different organization):


  • The title should be unambiguous, understandable to specialists in other fields, and reflect the content of the article


  • Indicate full name and affiliation for each author. Provide e-mail addresses, at least for the corresponding author, and for the first authors if different.
  • Authors are invited to indicate their ORCID.
  • PCI Evol Biol welcomes anonymous submissions (see section 3.3). 


  • Should be concise and present the main findings of the study.
  • Structured abstracts (e.g., Background, Methods, Results, Discussion) can be used.


  • The introduction should clearly explain the reasons for the study.
  • The introduction should build on relevant recent and past researchperformed in the field.
  • The research question/hypothesis/prediction should be clearly presented.

Materials and methods

  • Details of experimental procedures and quantitative analyses must be made fully available to readers, in the text or through deposition in an open repository, such as Zenodo, Dryad or institutional repositories with a DOI.
  • For specimen-based studies, complete repository information should be provided and institutional abbreviations should be listed in a dedicated subsection (if applicable). Specimens on which conclusions are based must be deposited in an accessible and permanent repository.


  • Data must be available to readers, in the article or through deposition in an open repository, such as Zenodo, Dryad or institutional repositories, with a DOI.
  • The authors’ data and ideas should be clearly distinguished from those of other people and from the authors’ earlier publications. Citations should be provided whenever relevant.


  • The research questions should be answered and the main results should be compared with published data, as objectively as possible.
  • Conclusions must be clearly stated and supported by the data.
  • Interpretations are possible, but must be clearly identified as such.

Tables and figures

  • Figures and tables should be easily understandable without reference to the main body of the article.
  • Captions to tables and figures must be informative but concise.



  • All sources of funding must be listed in a separate funding section.

Conflict of interest disclosure

  • Authors should declare any potential non-financial conflict of interest (financial conflicts of interest are forbidden, see the PCI code of conduct).
  • In the absence of competing interests, the authors should nevertheless add the following sentence to the “Conflict of interest disclosure” section: “The authors declare they have no conflict of interest relating to the content of this article.” If appropriate, this disclosure may be completed by a sentence indicating that some of the authors are PCI recommenders: “XXX is a recommender for PCI Evol Biol.”

Author contributions

  • Author contributions should be clearly stated.
  • Authors can use the CRediT Taxonomy to describe each author’s individual contributions: Conceptualization; Data curation; Formal analysis; Funding acquisition; Investigation; Methodology; Project administration; Resources; Software; Supervision; Validation; Visualization; Writing – original draft; Writing – review and editing.

Data, script and code availability

  • Data, statistical scripts, command lines and simulation codes must be made available to readers. They should either be included in the article or provided as Supplementary Information.
  • The Data Availability section must clearly indicate where and how data can be accessed.
  • Wherever possible, data, scripts and codes should be provided in machine-readable formats. Avoid PDFs, other than for textual supplementary information.
  • Metadata should accompany the data, to make the data understandable and reusable by the reader.

Supplementary information

  • If applicable, list the documents attached to the manuscript as Supplementary Information.
  • Supplementary Information should either be deposited in open repositories (such as Zenodo, Dryad, OSF, Figshare, Morphobank, Morphosource, Github, MorphoMuseuM, Phenome10k, etc.), or hosted by institutional repositories and accessible. If data are in an open or institutional repository, a reference to the data, with a DOI, must be provided in the reference list and in this "Data, script and code availability" section.


  • Authors are free to use their preferred reference style, as long as usual bibliographic information is provided (e.g., Authors, Year, Title, Editor/Journal, Volume, Pages/DOI) and style is consistent.
  • If available, the DOI of each reference must be provided.
  • Author-year or numerical citation schemes can be used.
  • All references cited in the text must be included in the reference section and listed either in alphabetical order (author-year format) or by order of appearance (numerical format).
  • In accordance with the 10th point of the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) signed by Peer Community In, authors are encouraged to cite the original research reporting new data and discoveries as the primary source of information, rather than the review articles discussing them (see more here).

3.3 Submitting a preprint

To submit an article, authors should first post it on a preprint server, such as bioRxiv or arXiv. Once the article has appeared on this server, the authors should click on the “Submit preprint” button on our website home page, for access to a very simple submission process.

During the submission process, authors will be asked to suggest between 5 and 10 recommenders who could handle the evaluation of their preprint. Recommenders are very similar to a journal editors. They are responsible for finding reviewers, collecting reviews, and making editorial decisions based on reviews. They may eventually recommend the article after one or several rounds of review.

Note that PCI Evol Biol is under no obligation to consider the submitted preprint. Only submitted preprints selected by a recommender enter the evaluation process. Although we cannot guarantee that the preprint will be reviewed, all possible efforts will be made to make this possible.

If, for some reason, authors have difficulty with the submission process, they can contact us at

For more details on the step-by-step procedure, authors can consult the how to? section  

3.4 Submitting a preprint anonymously

​​Authors can submit articles anonymously. Their names are not visible to the suggested recommenders or to the reviewers evaluating the preprint. This makes it possible to have a double-blind evaluation of the preprint.
If they wish to remain anonymous, the authors should carefully remove all nominative information from the manuscript and supplementary files (including the properties of the files). They should then deposit their anonymized article and supplementary files on a server (e.g. Github, Googledoc, Drop Box, etc.) allowing them to share the files via an anonymous URL link. They must provide this link when submitting the preprint to PCI. The author responsible for submission must indicate the names of all the authors on the submission form, but these names are visible only to the members of the managing board (not to the suggested recommenders or reviewers). 
When recommenders decide to take charge of the evaluation of a given preprint, they are provided with access to the names of the authors, which is essential to ensure that the reviewers invited to review the preprint have no conflict of interest with the authors. The invited reviewers and those agreeing to review the preprint do not see the names of the authors.
If the article is eventually recommended by the recommender in charge of its evaluation, the authors must then deposit a final, non-anonymized version in an open archive (e.g. arXiv, Zenodo, bioRxiv).

4. The evaluation and recommendation process

4.1 Overview

  1. Once the Managing Board has validated your submission, the recommenders you suggest receive an alert, drawing their attention to your preprint.
  2. We cannot guarantee that your preprint will be reviewed, but all possible efforts will be made to make this possible. If no recommender – including all recommenders in your field of expertise – has initiated the evaluation of your preprint after 20 days, you will be notified by e-mail. If this happens, we suggest that you cancel your submission.
  3. Alternatively, a recommender finding your preprint particularly interesting can decide to initiate the evaluation process. In this case, you will be notified by e-mail. The recommender will invite reviewers, so as to obtain at least two high-quality reviews. Note that the recommender and reviewers must declare that they have no conflict of interest of any kind with the content or the authors of your preprint – see the code of conduct.
  4. One or several classic cycles of reviews/decision/authors’ response follow, eventually leading to the recommendation or rejection of the article. At each round of review, the recommender may decide to reject or recommend your article. Alternatively, the recommender may ask you to revise your article, generating another round of reviews. The recommender signs all decisions, whereas reviewers may choose to remain anonymous or to sign their reviews. The median time to the first decision is 45 days.
  5. If the recommender eventually decides to reject your article, the reviews and decision will be sent to you, but will not be published or publicly released by PCI Evol Biol. They will be safely stored in our database, to which only the Managing Board has access.
  6. Alternatively, if the recommender decides to recommend your article, PCI Evol Biol publishes a “recommendation” of your article. This recommendation is a short article, written and signed by the recommender, similar to a News & Views piece, describing the context of your study and explaining why the recommender found your article is particularly interesting. PCI Evol Biol will also publish all the editorial correspondence (reviews, recommender's decisions, authors’ replies).
  7. Before the recommendation of your article goes online, you can upload a new version of your article onto the open archive with a PCI Evol Biol cover page, a PCI Evol Biol template of your article. You can also indicate (e.g. in the acknowledgment section) that this article has been peer reviewed and recommended by PCI Evol Biol.
  8. Once PCI Evol Biol has published the recommendation text, your article becomes a valid reference that can be used by scientists and cited in scientific publications. You no longer need to publish your article in a ‘traditional’ journals, although you remain free to do so if you wish.

4.2 Transparent review

PCI Evol Biol publishes all reviews of recommended manuscripts, with reviewers choosing whether to sign their reviews or remain anonymous. All reviews and recommender decision letters are published on the PCI Evol Biol platform at the point of acceptance. Reviews of rejected submissions are sent to the authors, but are not published. Reviewers and recommenders are expected to adhere to the PCI code of conduct, avoiding abusive or discriminatory language in their comments. Reviews that are considered to violate the code of conduct may be edited by recommenders or the Managing Board, returned to the reviewer for editing, or discarded.

4.3 Handling of manuscripts by recommenders

A recommender finding a submitted preprint particularly interesting can decide to initiate the evaluation process for the article. In this case, the authors will be notified by e-mail. The recommender will invite reviewers, so as to obtain at least two high-quality reviews. Note that the recommender and reviewers must declare that they have no conflict of interest of any kind with the content or the authors of the preprint – see the code of conduct.

If no recommender – including all recommenders in the corresponding field of expertise – has initiated the evaluation of the preprint after 20 days, the authors are notified by e-mail. If this happens, we suggest that the authors cancel their submission.

4.4 Appeals process

Authors of rejected manuscripts can appeal against a PCI Evol Biol decision within 30 days of receiving it, by contacting us at Appeals will be considered by the specialist recommender(s) that handled the manuscript and the PCI Evol Biol Managing Board. Decisions following appeal are final.