Biological Reviews

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Image:Volume 97, Issue 5
Volume 97, Issue 5
October 2022
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Volume 97, Issue 4
August 2022
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Volume 97, Issue 3
June 2022
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Volume 97, Issue 2
April 2022
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Overview

Biological Reviews covers the entire range of the biological sciences, presenting several review articles per issue. Although scholarly and with extensive bibliographies, the articles are aimed at non-specialist biologists as well as researchers in the field. Authors are specifically instructed to be aware of this fact in their writing, and the resulting reviews serve as extensive introductions to particular fields, defining the state of the art, and drawing attention to gaps in knowledge. Articles are up to 20,000 words long and each contains an abstract, a thorough introduction and statement of conclusions.


What Biological Reviews has to offer:

  • Fast publication times
  • Flexible policy on nature of articles, with scope for extensive tables and illustrations
  • International exposure with global circulation

Aims and Scope

Biological Reviews publishes synthetic reviews, based on the literature, covering important biological questions that are interesting to a broad readership and are timely (e.g. from a fast-moving field, or due to new discoveries or conceptual advances). A 'synthetic review' goes beyond compiling information, rather it should analyse the information and build a new theoretical or conceptual framework that can substantially reshape the area


Definition of review

Our concept of a review is one that comprehensively surveys the literature in order to answer a key biological question, or to identify new biological questions that need to be addressed to advance the field. This includes using data from the literature (for example, in meta-analyses). A review contrasts with primary research, which is the generation of new data. Thus, taxonomic or phylogenetic reviews, which draw conclusions from new data (even if made from “published” specimens or archived sequence data) typically fall out of scope as being primary research. Also out of scope are “opinion pieces” where they are based on an incomplete survey of the literature, where studies are only included that fit a specified hypothesis. Reviews suitable for Biological Reviews synthesise the literature and from this draw novel insights which contribute to the reshaping of an area. To help authors with some concrete guidance, a reviewer described what we are looking for in the following ways:

“Excellent reviews provide new conceptual insight not present in the primary literature. For example, they may bring together literature items (e.g. empirical or theoretical) that were previously disconnected to show where they do in fact overlap; or the review may generate significant new ideas and hypotheses. Such reviews are rare but, if they are readable and clear, they can form the basis for a new research direction. Good reviews explain difficult topics and make use of examples to illustrate how phenomena or theories are connected, or provide synthetic overviews of a large body of literature (empirical or theoretical). They can be the first entry into a new literature and may often allow readers to extract information or insights (e.g., about key experiments to be done) that are difficult to see from reading the primary literature or existing summaries. There are also not-so-useful reviews. These are more like summaries. They summarize recent opinions or results of one or several fields, restate conclusions that are easily gleaned from abstracts of primary research papers, and identify real, but quite obvious, gaps in knowledge. It can be very useful to write such a paper to organize one’s own thoughts, but it is typically of limited use to others.”

Biological Reviews is seeking “excellent reviews” in the description above. This goes beyond “good reviews” in the value they add by creating new insights (rather than presenting the information for readers to generate new insights).

Reviews of books are not published.

Under some circumstances, we will publish responses to previous reviews if they make the case that substantial and relevant literature exists and was missed from a previous review.

We would expect such pieces, therefore, to be “mini”-reviews. We urge authors to get in contact with the editorial team prior to submission to discuss suitability.

Review style and structure

Great flexibility in length, content and presentation is allowed. The core of the review must tackle a fundamental biological problem (including allied disciplines such as ecology or palaeontology). Reviews of topics outside biology (e.g. in medicine or agronomy) will be considered only if their focus is on underlying biological questions. We occasionally publish methodological reviews and use similar criteria: is there a well-articulated biological issue addressed, and is the review synthetic, generating new insights, rather than simply listing different methods?

Whilst articles may have significant value for experts in a particular field of research, they also act as introductions to the area for people engaging with it. Authors are therefore asked to write in a way that is intelligible to the non-expert so that scientists unfamiliar with the topic can learn something from it. Articles can be extensively illustrated. All articles are subject to refereeing.

Editorial Board

Editor-in-Chief

Dr John Welch
Department of Genetics,
University of Cambridge
Downing Street
Cambridge   CB2 3EH  UK

Editors

Professor Shinichi Nakagawa, FRSN
Evolution & Ecology Research Centre, EERC
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, BEES
The University of New South Wales
Australia

Christopher Howe
Department of Biochemistry
University of Cambridge
Tennis Court Road
Cambridge CB2 1QW UK

Assisted by

Alison Cooper

Editorial Committee

Paul Barrett, UK, Vertebrate Paleobiology

Steven Chown, Australia, Macroecology

David Coombes, UK, Forest Ecology & Conservation

Douglas Erwin, USA, Invertebrate Palaeobiology

Trent Garner, UK, Animal Ecology

Russell Gray, New Zealand, Animal Cognition

Christopher Huang, UK, Membrane Physiology

Michael Jennions, Australia, Behavioural Ecology

Andrew Knight, UK, Conservation Science

Tim Lewens, UK, Philosophy of Biology

Helen Mott, UK, Biochemistry & Structural Biology

Ana Rodrigues, France, Macroecology & Conservation

David Stern, USA, Developmental Biology

Henggui Zhang, UK, Systems Biology

Contact Details

Editorial Contact Information

Sara Lees

Email: sll26@cam.ac.uk

Production Contact Details

Joanna Glyza Bongolan

Production Editor

Email: brv@wiley.com

Publications

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Upcoming Events

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10

10

The Milky Way Galaxy - from beginning to end - Professor Gerry Gilmore - Larmor Lecture

Professor Gerry Gilmore

  • 18:30 - 19:30 Bristol-Myers Squibb Lecture Theatre

What we call the Milky Way, our Galaxy, has been the focus of myth, story and study in every society with a recorded history for millennia. Understanding its structure defeated Isaac Newton. One hundred years ago it was realized that the Milky Way is just one amongst a Universe of galaxies. With electronics, digital systems, and spacecraft we have learned how to measure the structure and assembly history of the Milky Way Galaxy over its 13 billion year history, even identifying ancient stars from the earliest proto-structures to form. We quantify the formation of the chemical elements over time and their distribution in space. We use dynamics to weigh the unseen. We can calculate the future of the Milky Way until it ends its existence as an isolated Galaxy, merging with Andromeda some 5 billion years from now, and the death of the Sun a few billion years after that. This lecture will tell that story. 

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24

10

Banks, Bunkers, and Backup: Securing Crop Diversity from the Cold War through the Internet Age

Professor Helen Anne Curry

  • 18:30 - 19:30 Bristol-Myers Squibb Lecture Theatre

Present-day efforts to preserve endangered crop varieties emphasize "safety duplication"—a strategy better known as backup—as an essential step in conservation. Important collections of seeds or other plant genetic materials are copied, in whole or part, and sent to physically distant sites to provide security in the case of local disaster. This talk traces the history of seed banking to understand how, why and with what consequences copying collections came to occupy this central place. The intertwined histories of the central long-term seed storage facility of the United States (opened in 1958) and the international seed conservation system developed in the 1970s reveal how changing conceptions of security, linked to changing economic, political and technological circumstances, transformed both the guiding metaphors and the practices of seed conservation. Seed banking gave way to seed backup: whereas early long-term cold storage facilities vested security in robust infrastructures and the capacities of professional staff, between the 1960s and 1990s, this configuration gave way to one in which security was situated in copies rather than capacities. This history ultimately raises questions about the security promised and achieved through present-day infrastructures for crop genetic resources conservation.

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