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Animal Behavior and Welfare aims to publish major insights into the behavior and welfare of domesticated and non-domesticated animals managed or affected (e.g., via anthropogenic impacts on the environment) by humans. The section welcomes manuscripts addressing theoretical, fundamental and applied research on all farm, working and companion, zoo/safari park and laboratory animals, as well as managed wild, feral and so-called ‘pest’ species. Submissions may address any, or all, of the three philosophical approaches to animal welfare; “naturalness”, affective states, and basic health and functioning. The section recognizes the multidisciplinary nature of animal welfare, and welcomes inter-disciplinary studies from across the natural and social sciences.

This section especially aims to contribute to improvements in animal welfare through the identification of potential risks to welfare, and their subsequent reduction or removal, through optimal management and housing practices. These practices will better acknowledge animals’ emotional wellbeing, their cognitive abilities, and the limits of their ability to adapt as shaped by their evolutionary and domestication history. Their development requires contributions from the fields of sociology, psychology, behavioral ecology, neuroscience, physiology, immunology and the emerging science surrounding the microbiota-gut-brain axis. The development and application of novel, and ideally positive, welfare indicators could come from any of these disciplines.

The Animal Behavior and Welfare specialty section will progress the concept and science of animal welfare using robust and relevant methods of assessing animal behavior and welfare. The need to accelerate progress in this area is justified by societal concerns for animal welfare; however, we also acknowledge the importance of improving welfare for the animal in its own right, for the role of animal welfare as ‘preventative medicine’ and for its contribution to the sustainable development goals. We recognize that animal welfare is integral to the welfare of humans and the environment as reflected in the One Welfare concept. Manuscripts accepted in this section will use the term ‘animal welfare’ rather than ‘animal wellbeing’ although ‘mental wellbeing’ is acceptable.

In particular, this section seeks high-quality scientific papers on:

- Conceptual reviews or perspectives comparing and synthesizing ideas, approaches, methods and techniques used in the study of the behavior and welfare of domesticated and non-domesticated species managed or affected by humans.

- Studies of the behavior of animals influenced directly by human or anthropogenic activities including 1) implications for management or welfare; 2) behavioural problems in companion or working animals; 3) implications of wildlife or so-called ‘pest’ management, recreation/hunting or nature conservation and 4) impact of changes in climate or land-use

- Progress in the area of applied animal behaviour science including studies on novel technological, methodological solutions and techniques for measuring or analysing the behavior of animals including insights from the wider natural sciences and how such developments could be used to improve animal management and welfare.

- Progress in the development of animal welfare science; fundamentals of animal welfare research relating to ethical issues around the use of animals in research, novel methodologies, approaches and concepts, technological solutions to measuring animal welfare, development of new, especially positive, indicators of welfare and development of methodologies for welfare assessment in the ‘field’

- Applied studies including those 1) evaluating animal welfare under different single issues (e.g. nutritional regime or veterinary medical intervention) or different management, housing or production systems, 2) implementing welfare assessment protocols in the field and 3) the implications of the findings in reducing risks to animal welfare

- Papers discussing the incorporation of scientific findings relating to the welfare of animals into best practice public policies, the enforcement thereafter of such policies and the associated cultural and societal implications.

Types of papers accepted

Animal Behavior and Welfare welcomes submissions of the following article types: Case Report, Community Case Study, Conceptual Analysis, Correction, Data Report, Editorial, General Commentary, Hypothesis and Theory, Methods, Mini Review, Original Research, Policy and Practice Reviews, Policy Brief, Protocols, Review, Specialty Grand Challenge and Systematic Review.

- We will redirect submissions describing research on animals or with humans with no relevance to animal behavior or welfare to a different section or journal

- Consider submitting papers at the intersection of animals, veterinary medicine, and society to the Veterinary Humanities and Social Sciences specialty section; papers on veterinary education methods for animal behavior and welfare will be re-directed to this section

- Consider submitting papers relating to the development or evaluation of technological solutions for assessing farm animal welfare to Frontiers in Animal Science – Precision Livestock Farming specialty section

- Consider submitting papers relating to farm animal welfare in terms of public and private policies and associated consequences at the farm, food chain and society levels to Frontiers in Animal Science – Animal Welfare and Policy section.

Frontiers in Veterinary Science is member of the Committee on Publication Ethics.


  • Short name

    Front. Vet. Sci.

  • Abbreviation


  • Electronic ISSN


  • Indexed in

    PubMed, PubMed Central (PMC), Scopus, Google Scholar, DOAJ, CrossRef, CAB Abstracts, CLOCKSS


    All published articles receive a PMCID

  • Impact

    3.2 Impact Factor

    3.8 CiteScore


Animal Behavior and Welfare welcomes submissions of the following article types: Brief Research Report, Case Report, Clinical Trial, Correction, Editorial, General Commentary, Hypothesis & Theory, Methods, Mini Review, Opinion, Original Research, Perspective, Review, Systematic Review, Technology and Code.

All manuscripts must be submitted directly to the section Animal Behavior and Welfare, where they are peer-reviewed by the Associate and Review Editors of the specialty section.

Open access statement

Open access logo

Frontiers' philosophy is that all research is for the benefit of humankind. Research is the product of an investment by society and therefore its fruits should be returned to all people without borders or discrimination, serving society universally and in a transparent fashion.

That is why Frontiers provides online free and open access to all of its research publications. For more information on open access click here.

Open access funder and institutional mandates

Frontiers is fully compliant with open access mandates, by publishing its articles under the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY). Funder mandates such as those by the Wellcome Trust (UK), National Institutes of Health (USA) and the Australian Research Council (Australia) are fully compatible with publishing in Frontiers. Authors retain copyright of their work and can deposit their publication in any repository. The work can be freely shared and adapted provided that appropriate credit is given and any changes specified.


Each Frontiers article strives for the highest quality, thanks to genuinely collaborative interactions between authors, editors and reviewers, who include many of the world's best scientists and scholars. Frontiers is well aware of the potential impact of published research both on future research and on society and, hence, does not support superficial review, light review or no-review publishing models.

Frontiers uses the single anonymized peer review model, where the reviewer identity is not made visible to the author, while the author identity is visible to the reviewer, and reviewer and the authors’ identities are visible to the decision-making editor. Reviewers interact with the handling editor and the authors. Editor and reviewer names and affiliations are published on all Frontiers articles.

Research must be certified by peers before entering a stream of knowledge that may eventually reach the public - and shape society. Therefore, Frontiers only applies the most rigorous and unbiased reviews, established in the high standards of the Frontiers Review System. Furthermore, only the top certified research, evaluated objectively through quantitative online article level metrics, is disseminated to increasingly wider communities as it gradually climbs the tiers of the Frontiers Tiering System from specialized expert readership towards public understanding.

Frontiers has a number of procedures in place to support and ensure the quality of the research articles that are published:

  • 2023

    • Editorial Board Quality

      • Only leading experts and established members of the research community are appointed to the Frontiers Editorial Boards. Chief Editors, Associate Editors and Review Editors are all listed with their names and affiliations on the Journal pages and are encouraged to publicly list their publication credentials.

    • Associate Editor Assignment Quality

      • Associate Editors oversee the peer-review and take the final acceptance decision on manuscripts. Editorial decision power is distributed in Frontiers, because we believe that many experts within a community should be able to shape the direction of science for the benefit of society.

      • Submitting authors can choose a preferred Associate Editor to handle their manuscript, because they can judge well who would be an appropriate expert in editing their manuscript. There is no guarantee for this preference of choice, Associate Editors can decline invitations any time, and the handling Associate Editor can also be over-ridden by the Chief Editor before she/he is invited to edit the article or at any other stage.

      • Associate Editors are mandated to only accept to edit a manuscript if they have no conflicts of interest (as stated here and in their review invitation and assignment emails).

      • Should it become clear that the Associate Editor has a conflict of interest or is unable to perform the peer-review timely and adequately, a new Associate Editor can be assigned to the manuscript by the Chief Editor, who has full control to intervene in the peer-review process at any time.

      • The Associate Editor initially checks that the article meets basic quality standards and has no obvious objective errors.

    • Reviewer Assignment Quality

      • The Associate Editor can then personally choose and invite the most appropriate reviewers to handle the peer-review of the manuscript, including Review Editors from the board or external reviewers.

      • The Associate Editor is aided in this by the Frontiers Collaborative Review Forum software and interface, which suggests the most relevant Review Editors based on a match between their expertise and the topic of the manuscript. Associate Editors can however choose any reviewer they deem adequate.

      • After a certain time frame and if no reviewers have in the meantime been assigned to the manuscript, the Frontiers platform and algorithmic safety-net steps in and invites the most appropriate Review Editors based on constantly updated and improved algorithms that match reviewer expertise with the submitted manuscript.

      • Review Editors and reviewers are mandated to only accept to review a manuscript if they have no conflicts of interest (as stated here and in their review invitation and assignment emails).

      • Frontiers algorithms are constantly fine-tuned to better match Review Editors with manuscripts, and additional checks are being coded into the platform, for example regarding conflicts of interest.

      • Should it become clear that a particular reviewer has a conflict of interest or is unable to perform the peer-review timely and adequately, he or she shall be replaced with an alternative reviewer by the Associate Editor or the Chief Editor, who will be alerted and has full control to intervene into the peer-review at any time.

    • Independent Review Stage Quality

      • In the Independent Review Stage the assigned reviewers perform an in-depth review of the article independently of each other to safeguard complete freedom of opinion.

      • The reviewers are aided by an online standardized review questionnaire – adopted to article types – with the goal to facilitate rigorous evaluation according to objective criteria and the Frontiers Review Guidelines.

    • Interactive Review Stage Quality

      • The Associate Editor assesses the reviews and activates the “Interactive Review” – informing the authors of the extent of revisions that are required to address the reviewers’ comments, and starting the Interactive Discussion Forum where authors and also the reviewers get full access to all review reports.

      • Manuscript and review quality at this stage are enhanced by allowing authors and reviewers to discuss directly with each other in real-time until they reach consensus and a final version of the manuscript is endorsed by the reviewers.

      • Reviewer identity is protected at this stage to safeguard complete freedom of opinion.

      • Reviewers can recommend rejection at this stage if their requests to correct objective errors are not being met by the authors or if they deem the article overall of insufficient quality.

      • Should a dispute arise, authors or reviewers can trigger an arbitration and will alert the Associate Editor, who can assign more reviewers and/or bring the dispute to the attention of the Chief Editor. The Associate Editor can also weigh in on the discussion and is asked to mediate the process to ensure a constructive revision stage.

    • Decision Stage Quality

      • The decision to accept an article needs to be unanimous amongst all reviewers and the handling Associate Editor.

      • The names of the Associate Editor and reviewers are disclosed on published articles to encourage in depth and rigorous reviews, acknowledge work well done on the article and to bring transparency and accountability into peer-review.

      • Associate Editors can recommend the rejection of an article to the Chief Editor, who needs to check that the authors’ rights have been upheld during the peer-review process, and who can then ultimately reject the article if it is of insufficient quality, has objective errors or if the authors were unreasonably unwilling to address the points raised during the review.

      • Chief Editors can at any stage of the peer-review step in to comment on the review process, change assigned editors, assign themselves as a reviewer and even as the handling editor for the manuscript, and therefore have full authority and all the mechanisms to act independently in their online editorial office to ensure quality.

    • Safeguards against Financial Conflicts of Interest

      • Only leading researchers acting as Associate Editors, who are not part of Frontiers staff, can make acceptance decisions based on reviews performed by external experts acting as Review Editors or reviewers. None have a financial incentive to accept articles, i.e. they are not paid for their role to act as Associate or Review Editors, and any award scheme is not linked to acceptances of manuscripts.

      • Chief Editors receive an honorarium if their specialty section or field reaches certain submission levels. However, this honorarium is based on the total number of submitted articles during a calendar year, and not the number of accepted articles. Therefore they also have no financial incentive to accept manuscripts.

    • Post-Publication Stage Quality

      • The Frontiers platform enables post-publication commenting and discussions on papers and hence the possibility to critically evaluate articles even after the peer-review process.

      • Frontiers has a community retraction protocol in place to retract papers where serious concerns have been raised and validated by the community that warrant retraction, including ethical concerns, honest errors or scientific misconduct.