Behind the Scenes @Biotropica: 2014 Editor’s Report (Part 1)

2014 ATBC Council

Members of the Association for Tropical Biology & Conservation Council who were able to make it Cairns for our annual meeting. Front Row (l-r): J. Ghazoul, P. M. Forget, S. Laurance, E. Kuprewicz, P. Sampaio, L. P. Koh, R. Chazdon. Middle Row (l-r): J. Fragoso, V. Novotny, P. Parolin, S. Calme, E. Bruna, Y. Mahli, E. Andresen, P. Zuidema, K. Kitajima. Back Row (l-r): C. Baraloto, T. Lynam, K. Harms. Biotropica’s Editor-in-Chief Emilio Bruna represented the Biotropica’s Editorial Leadership and presented the Annual Biotropica Report to the Council.


Every year Biotropica‘s Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor’s, and Editorial Assistant prepare a report on the previous year’s volume to present to the ATBC Council and Editorial Board at the annual meeting.  These reports are information-rich, and tell us a lot about Biotropica‘s current standing, where our submitting authors are based, our acceptance rates overall and by region, and other things that are rarely shared with a journal’s readership.  With that in mind, I’ve decided to write a series of posts in which lay out the information in the report. At the end I’ll post the whole report in case anyone wants the whole thing in a downloadable format.

The 2014 report summarizes the Volume 45 Editorial Year (2013).  Today I will present a quick summary of our performance in 2013, including my letter to the Council introducing the report. Over the course of the next couple of weeks I will expand on these points in greater detail, introduce some other items, and present lots and lots of data.  One important note: The summary below doesn’t include one big announcement that will be made soon. As soon as it is made I will edit the post and go into that decision in more detail.

So here it is – Part 1 of the 2014 Editor’s Report.  The really interesting stuff is yet to come, so stay tuned!


  • All six issues of Biotropica were published on schedule.
  • We processed 450 decisions (this includes new manuscripts & revisions).
  • We received 356 new submissions, down from 411 in 2012. However, submissions for the first 6 months of 2014 are up 25% over the same period in 2013.
  • The time-to-first-decision increased slightly from 42 days in 2013 to 48 days in 2013.
  • There are 262 institutional subscriptions to Biotropica (down from 265 in 2012).
  • Biotropica articles were downloaded 194,320 times in 2013 (down 3% from 2012).
  • In July 2013 Emilio Bruna relived Jaboury Ghazoul as Editor-in-Chief and Bryan Finegan was named an Associate Editor.
  • Biotropica expanded its social media and outreach efforts with a new blog and twitter feed; 2013 Biotropica articles were highlighted in such outlets as the BBC and
  • The Editorial Board voted to….STAY TUNED! A big announcement is forthcoming.



This is my first report as Editor-in-Chief, having taken over for Jaboury Ghazoul in July of 2013. With every passing day my admiration for his efforts on behalf of the journal grows, as has my appreciation for the fundamental role in our success played by Editorial Assistant Wendy Martin. The same is true for our Associate Editors – veteran AE Marielos Peña Claros and our newest AEs Bryan Finegan and Beth Kaplin. It is an honor to work with such dedicated professionals to serve our readers and authors and help the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation achieve its mission.

Like those who served as EIC before me, my goal is to ensure Biotropica remains the leading outlet for publishing research on tropical biology and conservation. To do so, I am both continuing many of their initiatives and implementing some new ones. First, we continue our efforts to attract submissions from all over the world. I note, however, that we continue to receive fewer submissions from Asia and Africa than we would hope. I hope that in appointing Beth Kaplin as an AE and recruiting new members of the Editorial Board based in these regions that we will continue the trend towards increasing numbers of submissions and acceptances from the region.

Second, we continue working to reach decisions, make accepted articles available online, and get articles to press quickly. Although the average ‘time-to-first-decision’ dropped slightly from 42 to 48 days, for the first time since 2010 there is no backlog for publication of manuscripts (as of November 2013). This is good news, but has put increased pressure on the EIC to complete ‘development editing’ quickly – a task which I readily admit is often a challenge, especially during the academic year. In last year’s report Jaboury alluded to a need to develop a strategy to deal with development editing, and with the increase in funding available to the journal in 2014 the Editorial Board will be discussing options for doing so. These range from hiring Development Editor’s on per-manuscript basis to working with an editing service to review all manuscripts prior to their being submitted for formatting by Wiley.

Third, we continue working to ensure our Editorial Board is exceptional and represents the breadth and diversity of our profession. They work tirelessly as volunteers, and their feedback on manuscripts, editorial policy, and the Biotropica’s future has been outstanding. We continue to seek a balance of younger and established scientists, and I am pleased that a recent analysis found our board’s gender balance was among the best in the environmental biology journals surveyed.

Fourth, we have implemented new efforts to increase our outreach and transparency regarding the way the journal operates. I have a new Editor’s Blog and twitter feed, and I use these as a forum to summarize and promote the article from each issue selected as the “Editor’s Choice”, provide a mechanism for authors to promote their work, provide a forum for responses to previously published articles, and provide information on the editorial process and seek feedback on proposed changes to the journal.

Finally, there have been some important decisions made by the Editorial Board on journal policy and format, the most important of which is…[COMING SOON…stay tuned]. This decision, coupled with Wiley’s forthcoming development of a Biotropica app for tablets, our new policy allowing authors to deposit manuscripts in preprint archives prior to review, and Wiley’s new policy allowing authors to deposit accepted articles in institutional repositories, is ushering Biotropica into an era of more open science while keeping pace with a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive publishing landscape.
Emilio Bruna
Gainesville, Florida, USA
1 July 2014.


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