The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting our lives, and the scientific research enterprise more generally, in profoundly challenging ways. At the Science family of journals, we are aware of these impacts in our own lives and in the lives of our authors and reviewers.
Like most organizations, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, publisher of the Science journals) instructed its staff to begin working from home in mid-March. Thankfully, this is feasible because most of journal operations are conducted online. Like all of you, our staff and editors are dealing with the impacts in numerous ways, such as caring for young children out of school, worrying about elderly relatives and other family members, coping with the mental toll that the isolation is taking on all of us, and managing disruptions to the supply chain. We understand that in addition to this, many of our authors and reviewers are dealing with shut-down labs, caring for the mental health of their lab members, and teaching online. Here is a summary of the actions that we are now taking.
We are strongly encouraging authors to post submitted papers on preprint servers, and we are expediting the review of COVID-19 papers to the greatest extent possible. All accepted research content is immediately made freely available on the First Release section of our website and sent to the World Health Organization and PubMed Central. All of our COVID-19 research, news, and commentary can also be accessed here. These actions are consistent with the statement that we signed onto, led by the Wellcome Trust.
For reviewers and authors, we know that many factors will cause you to need extra time in providing reviews and responding to reviewers. Some of this is because of the disruption that this crisis has brought to our daily lives; some of it is because labs are shut down and new experiments cannot be done. Our editors know that they have my full support in using their judgment to determine how extensive responses to reviewers need to be in terms of new experiments. New experiments still need to be done if they are required to support the assertions of the paper, and in these cases, we will be flexible about the time allowed for responses. We have altered our automated messages to indicate our flexibility, but if you need even more time, let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our news team has some of the most skilled scientific reporters and communicators in the world. They will continue to report the unvarnished truth and ask scientifically important questions of policy-makers and leading researchers.
And finally, in our commentary, we will continue to speak up for science through our own editorials and those that appear from other writers. Thank you for the thoughts you have shared and the partnership we have with all of you in giving voice to science now and in the future.