Editorial Policy

The American Naturalist's stated goal has long been "the conceptual unification of the biological sciences." Toward this end, the journal seeks to publish papers that change the way the field thinks about questions in evolution, ecology, behavior, and related fields. The journal welcomes manuscripts that develop new conceptual syntheses, pose new and significant problems, introduce novel subjects to the readership, or change the way people think about a topic that will be of interest to the broad readership of the American Naturalist.


In the last decade the number of submissions have doubled, but the number of pages the journal can print each year has remained approximately the same. Therefore, in deciding which papers to publish, we must emphasize the journal’s objectives.  All submitted manuscripts are first examined by the editor. Manuscripts are declined at this stage if they do not contribute to the journal's goals or clearly would not fare well in the review process. The other manuscripts are then assigned to an associate editor, who in turn also examines the manuscript to determine whether to recommend an editorial decline or to have the manuscript go through review (usually, but not always, by two reviewers).


Once the reviews are received, the associate editor makes a recommendation to the editor, who makes the final decision. Categories of decision are:


Tentative Accept

The manuscript will be published pending an acceptable revision.

Revision Required before a Decision Can Be Made

The editorial board believes that the manuscript could make a valuable contribution but there are also some problems that need to be resolved. These manuscripts may occasionally go back to one of the original reviewers. Authors have 60 days (with limited extensions possible) to make their revisions.


Major Revision Required

Enough substantial revision is needed before a decision can be made that the second version will be significantly changed and will almost always go through a full peer review. It is unceratin whether the end result will fit the goals of the journal. The manuscript will be returned to the original associate editor if at all possible. Authors have 60 days (with limited extensions possible) to make their revisions.

Decline without Prejudice

The editorial board believes that the manuscript has some promise, but the changes required are so extensive or demand so much time to complete that there is no deadline for the resubmission. Because the resubmission will essentially be a new manuscript and because the lack of a deadline means that continuity cannot be guaranteed, the manuscript will be given a new number and may, if the original associate editor is unavailable, be reassigned.


Papers that are declined are not eligible for resubmission.


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