Peer review process

Introduction
The peer review policy of this journal states that NO manuscript should be rejected on the basis of “lack of novelty” only, provided the manuscript is scientifically robust and technically sound.

Reviewers are kindly requested to follow the recommendations below in order to get acquainted with the complete guidelines for the peer review process.

Publication Criteria
See link: https://www.ijfsab.com/index.php/fsab/Publication_criteria

Agreement for Authorship
Submission of a paper to this journal indicates that the author(s) have agreed on the paper content. One author should be indicated as a corresponding author for all publication-related communication. All correspondence and proofs will be sent to the corresponding author, who will be treated as the final representative of all authors regarding any decision related to the manuscript unless otherwise requested during submission. This journal will not assume any responsibility for any dispute related to the authorship of a submitted paper. Any change in authorship (such as addition or deletion of author(s) or change in the sequence of the authors’ list) should be communicated to the editorial office through a letter signed by all authors prior to the publication of the paper.

Peer Review Mechanism
Food Science and Applied Biotechnology and the Academic Publishing House of the University of Food Technologies in Plovdiv follow a strict double-blind review policy with a view to ensuring unbiased evaluation. During this review process, the identities of both authors and reviewers are kept concealed.

Blind Peer Review
High-quality manuscripts are reviewed by a minimum of two researchers working in the same field. A blind peer review does not allow the disclosure of the authors’ and reviewers’ identities to the other party during the review process. To add additional transparency, the details of all reviewers and academic editors are stored in the journal's electronic system, and access to this information is restricted to the Editor-in-Chief, Co-Editor, Production Editor and one of the Sector Editors. As a last step towards ensuring the highest level of transparency in the process, all review comments, authors’ revisions, all manuscript versions and editorial comments are recorded (along with the date) with the report in the History Review file on the journal’s electronic platform and on a separate computer in the Co-editor’s possession located outside the University premises. This transparent process will contribute towards the elimination of any possible malicious / targeted interference by any person (publishing staff, reviewer, editor, author, etc.) during the peer review procedure.

In addition, we believe that one of the main objectives of the peer review system is to "improve the quality of the candidate's manuscript". We usually provide information to the authors about the "average grades (from 1 to 10)" given by the blind peer reviewers on the evaluated manuscripts both after the initial stage of peer reviewing and at the final stage prior to the article publication. In this way, we seek to record the history of article improvement during the peer review process. This process further increases transparency. The reviewer should clearly and honestly identify the “strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript”. This transparent process can thus be extremely beneficial to society in the long run.

Any attempt by authors to contact reviewers directly for the purpose of influencing the review process will be considered unacceptable. We will also strongly disapprove of reviewers’ attempts to contact authors directly.

Preliminary Assessment of Conformity

Food Science and Applied Biotechnology normally conducts a preliminary assessment of a manuscript before it is accepted for review. The assessment is carried out by the relevant Sector Editor to whom the authors have directed their submission.

The Sector Editor assesses the relevance of the manuscript to the aims and scope of our publication policy. If the manuscript is considered within the scope of the journal, the Sector Editor submits the article to the Production Editor.

The Production Editor makes a preliminary evaluation of the manuscript. The following are evaluated:

- the technical suitability of the submission and whether it has been written according to the journal’s requirements; and

- the English language quality.

The Production Editor also checks the text for plagiarism.

Submissions that fail the preliminary assessment procedure are rejected, and the rest are directed to the review stage.

Invitation to Review
Following the Sector Editor’s opinion, the Production Editor selects suitable scientists from the journal's database or from global databases, i.e. Scopus, Web of Science, etc., to act as potential external reviewers. Then, the Production Editor sends invitations to a minimum of four distinguished experts in the scientific field of the submission.

The invited reviewers are requested to respond to the review invitation within the shortest time possible. In the event of a refusal or should the Editorial Board fail to obtain the consent of two reviewers within 7 days, new, alternative external reviewers are invited.

All manuscripts submitted are reviewed by at least two external reviewers. In the event of diametrically opposed opinions, a third, hyper reviewer is invited. In order to ensure efficient and high-quality publication services, reviewers may request a deadline extension when they need more time to prepare the review.

Reviewer suggestion
The peer reviewers suggested must not have a conflict of interest and must not:

(i) be from the same department or institution as any of the authors (the same university and country should also be avoided, if applicable);

(ii) have been a research guide or student of any of the authors for the past 10 years;

(iii) have collaborated with any of the authors for the past 10 years;

(iv) be employees of non-academic organizations that one or more of the authors have collaborated with over the past 10 years).

It is the editorial team’s exclusive right to decide whether or not to work with the reviewers suggested by the authors.

Selection of Reviewers
Reviewer selection is a critical parameter in maintaining the high peer review standard of any journal. A number of factors are considered throughout the peer reviewer selection process, such as proof of expertise in terms of papers published in the same area in reputable journals; affiliation, reputation, etc. Reviewers who are slow, careless or do not provide sufficient justification for their decision, whether it is positive or negative, will at best be avoided. Authors can also identify peers they would rather not have as reviewers. Whenever possible, the editorial team will respect authors’ requests to exclude reviewers they consider unsuitable. The editorial team will also do their best to rule out those reviewers who may have an obvious competing interest.

The main force behind a fast, efficient and high-quality peer review process is the tremendous hard work of the peer reviewers and editors. We are extremely grateful to our peer reviewers and editors for their great service.

Invited reviewers are kindly requested to provide a detailed, constructive review report containing an overall recommendation for the publication of the manuscript by taking into consideration the following:

Potential Conflict of Interests
Reviewers should inform the journal’s Editor-in-Chief in the event of a conflict of interests that may impair the review report in either positive or negative ways. The editorial office will run a check prior to the invitation; however, the peer reviewers’ cooperation will be highly appreciated in this regard. In the event of submission of a manuscript that has been rejected by another journal following their evaluation procedure, this should not be considered as a conflict of interest in itself. Under these circumstances, reviewers may feel free to inform the Editor-in-Chief if any improvements have been made in the previous version.

Confidential and Anonymous Review Process
Confidentiality regarding the manuscript abstract and content is requested from reviewers. The editorial office must be informed should a reviewer ask a student or colleague to complete the review on their behalf.

Our journal operates double-blind peer review; hence, reviewers should take measures not to reveal their identity to authors through their comments or metadata of their reviews submitted in a Microsoft Word or PDF format.

Timely Manner
Food Science and Applied Biotechnology aims at providing efficient, high-quality publishing services. Therefore, reviewers are kindly requested to support this policy by submitting their review reports in a timely manner. Please contact the editorial office if you require an extension of the review deadline.

Review Process Flow
Reviewers’ comments are generally sent to authors within two weeks of their submission. On the basis of the reviewers’ comments, a final decision (accepted, or accepted with minor revisions, or accepted with major revisions, or rejected) will be sent to the corresponding author. The reviewers are asked if they would like to review a revised version of the manuscript. The editorial office may request a re-review regardless of a reviewer's response (with the reviewer’s consent) in order to ensure a thorough and fair evaluation. Reviewers who offer an opinion that is not in accordance with the final decision should not feel that their recommendation has not been duly considered or their service properly appreciated. Experts often disagree and it is the editorial team’s task to make the final decision.

Authors are encouraged to submit the revised manuscript within 30 days of receipt of the reviewers’ comments (in the event of minor revisions). The revised manuscript submission should not exceed 8 weeks (solely in the event of major revisions recommended, which involve additional experiments, analyses, etc.). Along with the corrected manuscript, authors need to submit a review comment form indicating that they conformed or disagreed with any comments made by the reviewers. The Editor-in-Chief will have the exclusive right to make the final decision of acceptance or rejection throughout any dispute.

Review Process Performance
External reviewers assess the quality of a manuscript and make a recommendation to the Editor-in-Chief as to whether the manuscript can be accepted for publication, whether revisions are needed, or whether the manuscript should be rejected.

The peer review process ends in the first stage when the Editorial Board receives positive review reports from at least two independent external reviewers.

In the event of unsatisfactory revisions of the manuscript and a need for further improvements, the review process may continue to a second, third and fourth stage, until its final acceptance or rejection.

Reviewers invited to evaluate a submission in Food Science and Applied Biotechnology are asked to fill in a Reviewer’s Form, which contains several sections graded with points 1 to 10. At the end of the form, reviewers are given the opportunity to present their specific comments indicating the row numbers, tables, figures, etc., make any other notes and suggestions related to the manuscript improvement, and pose their questions.

Finally, reviewers are asked to provide a comprehensive recommendation regarding the submitted manuscript as follows:

Acceptance in its current form: when the paper does not any need further changes;

Acceptance after a minor revision: when the article is accepted as a whole but the authors must answer the reviewers’ minor comments and questions;

Acceptance after a major revision: when the manuscript acceptance depends on the authors' ability to respond and comply with the reviewers’ comments;

Rejection: when the article is not accepted for publication due to major shortcomings or lack of originality. No re-submission to the journal will be suggested.

Articles accepted for publication are directed by the Production Editor to the Copyediting and Production stages.

Guidance for Peer Review Performance

The Academic Publishing House of the University of Food Technologies believes that no manuscript should be rejected solely on the basis of “lack of novelty”, provided the manuscript is sufficiently robust and technically sound. Frequently, a journal's decision to publish a paper is guided by an editor/reviewer’s opinion on what is interesting and what would attract greater readership — both being subjective judgments that may result in decisions that are frustrating and delay the publication. The Academic Publishing House of the University of Food Technologies will rigorously peer-review the submissions and publish all papers that are judged to be technically sound.

The judgment on the importance of a particular paper is made by readers (who are the ones most qualified to determine what is of interest to them).

The Academic Publishing House of the University of Food Technologies believes in constructive criticism. Reviewers are encouraged to be honest but not offensive in their language (unnecessarily harsh words may be modified or removed at the editors' discretion). It is expected that reviewers should provide suggestions to authors as to how they can enhance their paper in order to make it acceptable. Reviewers’ comments should be sufficiently informative and helpful to lead to an editorial decision. We strongly advise that a negative review should also explain the weaknesses of any manuscript so that the authors concerned can understand the reasons for the rejection and improve the manuscript on the basis of these comments. Furthermore, authors should not confuse straightforward and true comments with unfair criticism.

Normally, a journal will accept reviewers' suggestions. Therefore, authors are invited to pay special attention to peer reviewers’ suggestions.

Ethics of the Review Process
This journal aims to publish original high-quality research works. The submission of a manuscript to this journal indicates that the study has not been published elsewhere or submitted elsewhere for publication. If its author(s) have used any part of a published paper (in English or any other language), they should give proper reference thereof, or, if required, they should get a permission from the previous publisher or copyright holder (whichever is applicable).

The Academic Publishing House of the University of Food Technologies in Plovdiv strives towards an ethical publishing process. The results reported should only be submitted for publication in this journal and should not have been previously published, even in part. Re-use of text from other sources should also be cited in an appropriate manner.

The biological research included in the submitted manuscript must be approved by the institutional ethics committee and carried out in accordance with generally accepted standards for ethical research.

In the event of a breach of science, fraud, plagiarism or other unethical conduct, reviewers are invited to notify the Editor-in-Chief immediately.

For more information about the journal’s policy in the field of the ethics of publication please refer to: https://www.ijfsab.com/index.php/fsab/Ethics_and_malpractice_statements

Plagiarism Policy

The Academic Publishing House of the University of Food Technologies strongly disapproves of the practice of duplicating publications or any other type of plagiarism. If anyone suspects any unethical practice in the reviewed manuscript, they should declare it in the report with the respective proof/web links.

Studies which have been carried out to re-confirm/replicate the results of any previously published paper with a new dataset may be considered for publication. However, these types of studies should make a “clear statement” of this fact.

Plagiarized manuscripts will not be considered for publication. If a signal is given that there is a plagiarism element in an already published article, the editors will immediately send a letter to all authors, to their related institutions and funding agencies, and the paper will subsequently be retracted.

To get acquainted with the complete Plagiarism Policy of the journal, please refer to: https://www.ijfsab.com/index.php/fsab/Plagiarism_policy