Collaborative Peer Review

  • Frontiers reviews are standardized, rigorous, fair, constructive, efficient and transparent;
  • Two review phases: an independent review phase and an interactive, collaborative phase;
  • Reviewers and the handling editor are acknowledged on published articles;
  • Average time to final decision: 85 days.

The Frontiers Collaborative Review aims to maximize manuscripts’ quality while protecting the rights of authors to publish their work in a fair and transparent process.

Frontiers Research Topic e-books, which are themed article collections, undergo the same Frontiers Collaborative Review process as spontaneous submissions.

Peer review is handled by active researchers and scholars, carefully appointed to our editorial boards according to strict criteria of excellence, and who certify the accuracy and validity of research with their names on the published articles.

We believe that peer review needs to be centered on objective criteria of the soundness and validity of the work presented. At the same time, it should be rigorous, fair, constructive, accountable, and transparent for everyone involved. Last, but not least, peer review needs to be efficient. Therefore, we have introduced radical innovations in web technologies to implement our Collaborative Review.

General Principles

Frontiers Full Review Guidelines

Frontiers Short Review Guidelines

Editorial Policies

General Principles

The Frontiers Collaborative Review provides and guarantees:

Collaborative Review

Our Collaborative Review Forum unites authors, reviewers and the Associate Editor – and if need be the Specialty Chief Editor – in a direct online dialogue, enabling quick iterations and facilitating consensus. Editors and reviewers work with the authors to improve their manuscript.

Objective Review

Frontiers promotes a strict separation between review and evaluation. Frontiers editors and reviewers have the mandate to focus only on objective criteria evaluating the soundness of the study and to ensure that the results are valid, the analysis is flawless and the quality as high as possible. We publish all papers assessed to be technically correct and of good quality. Reviewers may recommend rejection based exclusively upon objective errors. Judgments regarding the importance of a paper can be made through open post-publication reviews and we use objective impact metrics - reflecting the opinion of the entire community – to spotlight outstanding discoveries.

Transparent Review

To guarantee the most rigorous and objective reviews, the identities of reviewers remain anonymous during the review period. When a manuscript is accepted for publication, the names of the reviewers who endorsed its publication appear on the published article, without exceptions. If a reviewer recommends rejection or withdraws during any stage of this process, his/her name will not be disclosed. Handling editors' names are also made public on the published article, acknowledging their contribution.

As a result of this process, reviews are conducted constructively, with editors and reviewers holding a level of accountability and responsibility for the paper by providing rigorous feedback that delivers the highest possible quality publication. Please also note that, as Frontiers operates a single-blind peer review process, the authors will not be anonymous to the reviewers.

Standardized and Rigorous Review

Frontiers provides a review template to make reviews systematic and convene the efforts of reviewers exclusively on objective issues. The review must focus solely on the quality of both the research and the manuscript, and must aim at providing constructive comments to bring the final paper to its best quality. This allows fair, rapid, comprehensive and comparable assessment of research. The evaluation of the research will be done successively by means of the Frontiers Evaluation System. Moreover, Frontiers provides authors with the highest quality review service by assigning only the world’s top researchers to the Frontiers boards of editors.

Efficient Review

Frontiers’ publishing platform is custom developed. We offer one of the fastest platforms amongst academic publishers. Our Review Forum guides authors, reviewers and editors smoothly through the review process and alerts them when any action is required. This has shortened the average time from submission to final decision to 90 days.

Impact Metrics and Tiering

Post-publication evaluation of the work’s significance and impact is done democratically by the community using the Frontiers online impact metrics.

Full Peer Review Guidelines

The full Frontiers Collaborative Peer Review consists of two phases.

  • Independent Review
    During the Independent Review phase, the reviewers assess the manuscript independently from each other and from the authors, according to a standardized review template. These templates are adapted to each article type.

  • Interactive Review
    During the Interactive Review phase, authors and reviewers can interact with each other through real-time comments in the discussion forum. The Associate Editor and, if required, the Specialty Chief Editor can also enter the Review Forum and oversee the review process.

The following articles types are attributed a full, standardized peer review:

Code, Research Snapshot, Clinical Study Protocol, Policy and Practice Reviews, Protocols, Brief Research Report, Case Report, Community Case Study, Conceptual Analysis, Curriculum Instruction and Pedagogy, Empirical Study, Evaluation, Policy Brief, Original Research Articles, Review Articles, Hypothesis & Theory Articles, Methods Articles, Perspective Articles, Technology Reports, Clinical Trial Articles, Mini Reviews, General Commentaries, Opinion Articles, Data Report, Protocols and CPC.

Tier-climbing: Focused Reviews, Frontiers Commentaries.

Post-Submission Steps

Following the Frontiers online manuscript submission, the editorial office conducts a pre-screening for quality control. If a manuscript meets Frontiers’ criteria for quality, an Associate Editor from the relevant Specialty Section is immediately invited to supervise the manuscript’s peer review process. After a preliminary content check, the Associate Editor may decide to either send the manuscript out for review or recommend it for immediate rejection to the Specialty Chief Editor.

In the latter case, the Specialty Chief Editor may confirm the Associate Editor’s recommendation of immediate rejection due to the following reasons:

  • Objective errors in the methods, applications, or interpretations were identified in the manuscript that prevent further consideration.
  • Ethical issues were identified in the manuscript that prevent further review or publication.
  • The content of this manuscript does not meet the standards of rigor required by the journal to be considered for publication (which includes serious language issues).

The Specialty Chief Editor may, nevertheless, override the Associate Editor's recommendation and decide that the manuscript deserves being reviewed, in which case he/she will assign the manuscript to a new Associate Editor who agrees to send the manuscript for review.

The Associate Editor then invites reviewers to participate; most article types require at least two reviewers to take part. These reviewers can either be invited from the Frontiers board of Review Editors or appropriately recruited among the experts in the field.

Independent Review Phase

The reviewers are asked to submit the standardized Frontiers Independent Review Report via the online review forum within a few weeks after accepting the assignment. The Associate Editor is automatically notified as soon as each of the Independent Review Reports is submitted.

During the Independent Review phase, the reviewers assess the paper independently from each other and the authors, using our standardized review template.

Once all reviewers have submitted an Independent Review Report, the Associate Editor is responsible for activating the next phase of the Frontiers Review, i.e. the Interactive Review Forum, to release the review reports to the authors. If the editor would like to recommend rejection during the Independent Review phase, they can do so by activating the interactive review forum with major concerns, providing the authors with the reports, and a unique opportunity for rebuttal during a defined timeframe.

Interactive Review Phase

Once the Associate Editor activates the Interactive Review Forum, authors are immediately notified of this and granted access to the forum, where they are able to view the reviewers' comments. Authors are asked to respond and/or submit a revised manuscript within 15, 25 or 35 days, depending on the level of revisions requested by the Associate Editor. If the authors are unresponsive to multiple communication attempts, the editorial office will send a final email to the authors with a 7-day deadline to respond. Following this, the editorial office reserves the right to withdraw the manuscript from the review process.

The Associate Editor can access and post comments in the review forum anytime. Additionally, the Associate Editor monitors the discussions occurring between authors and reviewers within this forum, and ensures not only the timeliness, but also the constructiveness of the participants’ interaction. Should a dispute arise at this stage, the Associate Editor must act as a mediator, working with all parties involved to resolve the issues and even inviting new reviewers for further opinions if needed. If the disagreement persists, the Specialty Chief Editor is then obliged to enter the Interactive Review Forum, assess the situation and take a final decision, as to whether the review should be ended by rejecting the manuscript or continuing with a new set of reviewers and handling Editor.

When a disagreement cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of a reviewer, he/she has the right to withdraw from the review at any time, in which case the Associate Editor may choose to invite another reviewer.

At this stage, a manuscript may be rejected for the following reasons:

  • Objective errors in the methods, applications, or interpretations were identified in this manuscript that prevent further consideration.

  • Ethical issues were identified in this manuscript that prevent further review or publication.

  • The content of this manuscript does not meet the standards of rigor required by the journal to be considered for publication.

  • The manuscript could not be sufficiently revised by the authors to address the concerns raised by the reviewers or editor during the review process.

The review is complete only once all review comments have been addressed to the reviewers' satisfaction.


Should a dispute arise that may result in the rejection of the manuscript, the authors may trigger an arbitration. In the first place, the Associate Editor will mediate and involve all reviewers in a discussion aimed at resolving the dispute. If a resolution cannot be agreed upon, the Specialty Chief Editor is alerted and can opt to bring in additional reviewers and handling editor for consultation. A manuscript can be rejected if the arbitration rules that the objective error stands. Reviewers are entitled to trigger an arbitration, too, if they judge that the authors are reluctant to make required changes. Reviewers may withdraw from the review process if they disagree with the other reviewers and the editor, the authors and the arbitration ruling (in which case their identity remains undisclosed). The withdrawal of a reviewer requires the recruitment of a new one, which slows down the process. Therefore, authors are encouraged to co-operate as much as possible in addressing the concerns of the reviewers involved with their manuscript.

Manuscript Acceptance

If the reviewers endorse the publication of the manuscript in its current form, they must finalize their Interactive Review Reports, which automatically notifies the Associate Editor. For acceptance to be considered, the manuscript must have an Associate Editor and the minimum number of independent reviewers assigned, and endorsed, for that article type. The Associate Editor can then either accept the final version of the manuscript, or request further changes as necessary, typically within a few days. Acceptance of a manuscript can be decided on by Associate Editors and does not require the approval of the Specialty Chief Editor.

The publication fee is payable within 30 days of acceptance and is required before final publication of the manuscript.


While submissions can be rejected by the Chief Editor, the Associate Editor who handles a manuscript can only recommend to reject a manuscript. The Chief Editor may override an Associate Editor's recommendation to reject the manuscript and insist to call in further reviewers to continue the review process.

Tier-climbing articles

If the manuscript is a Focused Review, which can only be submitted following an invitation after tiering selection, the previous Associate Editor and reviewers are invited to review the new manuscript (if available to take on the assignment). The manuscript is written by the previous authors and is an abridged and revised version of the original article following the author guidelines for Focused Reviews. It requires a full peer review with regard to technical language, since it addresses a broader, less specialized community.

If the submitted manuscript is a Frontiers Commentary, , the Specialty Chief Editor is invited to review the manuscript. Frontiers Commentaries are written by the Associate Editor or one of the reviewers who reviewed the original article and requires peer review with regard to technical language, since it addresses a less specialized community.

Short Peer Review Guidelines

The following articles types are attributed a shortened peer review:

Editorials, Book Reviews, and Classifications.

Short peer reviews differ from full peer reviews in two aspects: they are directly forwarded to the Interactive Review phase and they may be reviewed by the Associate Editor alone. It is up to the Associate Editor’s consideration if further reviewers are invited to the review process.

Therefore, following the Frontiers online manuscript submission, an Associate Editor of the relevant Frontiers Specialty is immediately invited to take on the manuscript editorial assignment, which encompasses the role of the reviewer, too. Since no Independent Review Report is required, the manuscript enters the Interactive Review Forum immediately.

Interactive Review, manuscript acceptance and rejection follow the same rules established for full peer reviews.

Editorial Policies

Conflicts of Interest

Frontiers is committed to upholding the highest standards of publication ethics and takes publication malpractice and conflicts of interest very seriously (see our Author Conditions). Personal, financial and professional affiliations or relationships can be perceived as conflicts of interest. All authors and all members of Frontiers Editorial Boards are required to disclose any actual and potential conflicts of interest at submission or upon accepting an editorial or review assignment.

The Frontiers review system is designed to guarantee the most transparent and objective editorial and review process, and because Associate Editor and reviewers' names are made public upon the publication of articles, conflicts of interest will be openly apparent.


As an author, disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest should be done during the submission process. Consider the following questions and make sure you disclose any positive answers. If you failed to disclose any of the potential conflicts of interest below during submission, please contact the Frontiers editorial office with the details as soon as possible.

1. Did you or your institution at any time receive payment or services from a third party for any aspect of the submitted work?
2. Do you have financial relationships with entities that could be perceived to influence, or that give the appearance of potentially influencing, what you wrote in the submitted work?
3. Do you have any patents and copyrights, whether pending, issued, licensed and/or receiving royalties related to the research?
4. Do you have other relationships or activities that readers could perceive to have influenced, or that give the appearance of potentially influencing, what you wrote in the submitted work?

Associate and Review Editors

Associate Editors, Review Editors and reviewers are requested to fill a questionnaire before taking on an assignment to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. Research Topic Editor will also be asked to complete the questionnaire upon assignment to a manuscript under their Research Topic. If you can answer yes to any of the questions below, Frontiers considers this to be a potential conflict of interest. Such potential conflicts might be between the editor and authors, the reviewers and authors, or the reviewers and editor.

If you have any doubt about whether a relationship or an interest qualifies as a conflict of interest, it is always better to disclose this potential conflict such that editors and the Frontiers Editorial Office can determine whether it necessitates disclosure on the article, or whether an alternate reviewer or editor should be assigned.

Associate Editors must report actual or potential conflicts of interest to the journal's Editorial Office. Reviewers must report actual or potential conflicts of interest both to the journal's Editorial Office and the Associate Editor handling the manuscript.

In case of doubt, please contact your Journal's office by email, or the main Frontiers Editorial Office at You should provide the details of the situation and the potential conflict(s) that you would like to report.

FAMILY 1. Are any of the authors a spouse or significant other, a member of the same family or a very close personal friend? Review Editors should also not be a member of the same family as the handling editor.
COLLABORATIONS 2. Are you currently hosting or have hosted a Frontiers Research Topic with any of the authors within the past 2 years? Are you currently hosting a Frontiers Research Topic with the Editor?
3. Are you currently collaborating or have you collaborated on a research project or a publication with any of the authors within the past 2 years?
4. Are you currently collaborating or have you collaborated with any of the authors as an advisor or in any other direct supervisory capacity in the past three years?
5. Are you currently collaborating or have you collaborated with any of the authors as a student or in any other direct subordinate capacity in the past three years?
Note: Review Editors should not accept assignments if they have a close professional relationship with the handling editor, which in their view could affect the objectivity of the review.
AFFILIATION 6. Are you affiliated with the same institution as the editor? Are you affiliated with the same institution as any of the authors? If so, has this resulted in interactions, collaborations, or mutual interests with the authors that would compromise your impartiality in conducting this review?
7. Are you a current member of a committee or department that coincides with an affiliation with the editor or any of the authors?
FINANCIAL 8. Do you have a business or professional partnership with any author?
9. Do you have financial interests or business relations with any organization involved in this research or in the preparation of the manuscript?
10. Do you have any financial interest or competing interests in the content of the manuscript that might affect your ability to perform an objective review?
External Reviewers

External reviewers at Frontiers should hold a PhD or an equivalent degree, or the equivalent number of years to a recognized qualification, in the relevant field of research. It is also encouraged that all external reviewers have sufficient experience in scientific publishing, either from the perspective of an author or reviewer.

Frontiers does wish to assist in the development of early career researchers and in offering them exposure to the peer review process. To foster this development, we do allow early career researchers to collaborate in the review process with a senior researcher. Please contact the Editorial Office for any questions on how to proceed in such cases.

External reviewers are subject to the same conflicts of interest restrictions as Frontiers Review Editors, and must report actual or potential conflicts of interest both to the journal's Editorial Office and the Associate Editor handling the manuscript.

Publication Ethics and Malpractice

Frontiers takes issues relating to publication ethics very seriously. Frontiers endeavors to follow the guidelines and best practice recommendations published by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Frontiers is a member of COPE and is also represented on the COPE council by its Editorial Office Manager. Frontiers follows the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines including its recommended authorship criteria. Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine is listed as a journal following ICMJE recommendations on its website.

Authors are expected to abide by ethical standards in regards to the attribution of authorship, conflicts of interest, respect of ethical considerations in the use of experimental animal and human participants, financial support disclosures and participation in the peer review process. Additionally, cases of invalid or fraudulent data, plagiarism and dual submissions will constitute grounds for rejection. Please refer to the "Frontiers General Conditions" for complete details on the authors’ responsibilities.

Frontiers editors and reviewers are also expected to abide by ethical standards in regards to conflicts of interest, confidentiality of the reviewed papers, objective evaluation of the work and preservation of reviewers’ anonymity until acceptance. Editors bear the authority and responsibility for the acceptance of papers.

While Frontiers strives for transparency regarding the identity of reviewers and editors, the external posting of review reports or discussions from the review process is strictly prohibited. As contributions made to the interactive review process come from a number of different parties, the decision to share these contributions are not the reserve of any one party.

Frontiers will investigate allegations of misconduct both before and after publication. Corrections or retractions will be published if necessary, in order to maintain the integrity of the academic record. The Frontiers Editorial Office should be contacted immediately on suspicions of misconduct.