Submission and Review Process

Papers will usually be handled by a member of the Board of Editors. When directly submitting your paper to Microbiology Spectrum, you may request for your paper to be handled by a specific member of the Board. When transferring your paper to Microbiology Spectrum from another ASM journal, please send a note the journal inbox ([email protected]) if you would like a specific Editor to handle the paper. Please include in this email the Microbiology Spectrum manuscript ID of your paper. We will do our very best to honor your request.

Editors will base their decision to peer review a paper solely on technical merit. Following initial editorial evaluation, papers chosen for peer review will be sent to at least two external peer reviewers. Following review, the Editor will either invite you to submit a revised version of the paper or reject the paper based on the reviews obtained.

Initial Submissions

For initial submissions, Microbiology Spectrum welcomes papers in any format. At this stage, authors are encouraged to upload a single PDF that incorporates the full text, tables, figures and supplemental information. The reference style, the arrangement of sections of the paper, and other formatting issues are at the discretion of the author. However, to assist the reviewers, manuscript pages must have continuous line and page numbers.

Submission Process

All submissions to Microbiology Spectrum must be made electronically via the Microbiology Spectrum online submission system. First-time users must create an Author account.

Transferred Submissions

Manuscripts rejected from the ASM journals on the list below can be transferred to Microbiology Spectrum using the transfer link provided in the decision letter.

  • Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
  • Applied and Environmental Microbiology
  • Infection and Immunity
  • Journal of Bacteriology
  • Journal of Clinical Microbiology
  • Journal of Virology
  • mBio
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • mSphere
  • mSystems

If your paper was peer reviewed at one of the journals listed above, the Editors at Microbiology Spectrum are often able to expedite the evaluation based on the reviews obtained at the previous ASM journal. Please use the transfer link in the decision letter to transfer your paper to Microbiology Spectrum. Once you do this, the staff at Microbiology Spectrum will be happy to assist you make any changes or submit addition documents prior to editorial evaluation of the paper at Microbiology Spectrum. If you encounter any issues transferring your paper, please email Spectrum staff at [email protected] and a staff member will be happy to assist you with the transfer process.

Submissions Accepted-on-behalf of Spectrum at other ASM journals

Editors at the ASM journals listed above may offer to accept papers on behalf of Spectrum. Please use the transfer link in the decision letter to transfer your paper to Microbiology Spectrum. Following transfer, the Editors and staff at Microbiology Spectrum will work with you towards acceptance and final publication of the paper in Microbiology Spectrum. Please note that you may be asked to respond to concerns raised during peer review and that you may also be asked to edit and/or reformat the paper prior to formal acceptance at Spectrum. The date of acceptance is the date that you receive the formal acceptance letter from Spectrum. If you any questions prior to or following transfer, please feel free to email Spectrum staff at [email protected].

Manuscripts Reviewed by Non-ASM Journals

Microbiology Spectrum offers expedited review for manuscripts previously reviewed by certain highly selective non-ASM journals. If you feel, after addressing any outstanding reviewer comments from the other journal, that the manuscript may be suitable for publication in Microbiology Spectrum, please include the following items in your submission:

  • A cover letter declaring the previous submission and requesting expedited review
  • A PDF file of the entire previously submitted manuscript uploaded as a Miscellaneous File Not for Publication
  • A Response to Reviewer Comments file containing the previous decision letter(s), all previous reviews, any manuscript correspondence, and your point-by-point response to the reviews, including page and line numbers where changes have been made
  • A tracked-changes file showing the revisions made, uploaded as a marked-up Manuscript file

Authors must recommend two senior editors and two editors from the Microbiology Spectrum Board of Editors. In many cases, manuscripts considered for expedited review may be accepted for publication within 10 days, depending on any additional minor revisions that might be requested by the editors.

Supplemental Material

Supplemental material will be peer reviewed along with the manuscript and must be uploaded to the eJournalPress (eJP) peer review system at initial manuscript submission. Authors should use discretion regarding supplemental material. Data that directly support the main conclusions of the manuscript should be part of the body of the manuscript to the greatest extent possible: both reviewers and readers prefer this practice.

Large or complex data sets or results that cannot readily be displayed in printed form because of space or technical limitations, such as data from gene expression, genomic, metagenomic, structural, proteomic, or video imaging analyses, can be included as supplemental material. In such cases, the manuscript submitted for review should include a distillation of the results so that the principal conclusions are fully supported without referral to the supplemental material. Supplemental material will be peer reviewed along with the manuscript and must be uploaded to the eJournalPress (eJP) peer review system at initial manuscript submission. For initial submission and final acceptance, this material must be uploaded as a single PDF. Supplemental data set and movie files may be uploaded separately. The number of supplemental material files is limited to 10. Supplemental files should be submitted in the following standard formats.

  • Text, figures, tables, and legends should be included in a single PDF file. All figures and tables should be numbered independently and cited at the relevant point in the manuscript text, e.g., "Fig. S1," "Fig. S2," "Table S1," etc. Do not duplicate data by presenting them in both the text of the manuscript and a supplemental figure. Each legend should appear below its corresponding figure or table. The maximum file size is 8 MB. Please review this sample file for guidance.
  • Data set (Excel [.xls]) files should include a brief description of how the data are used in the paper. The maximum file size is 20 MB. Please review this sample file for guidance.
  • Movies (Audio Video Interleave [.avi], QuickTime [.mov], or MPEG files) should be submitted at the desired reproduction size and length and should be accompanied by a legend. The maximum file size is 20 MB.

All supplemental text, tables, and figures should be combined in a single self-contained document (PDF), and no supplemental material should be included in the main manuscript. Unlike the manuscript, supplemental material will not be edited by the ASM Journals staff and proofs will not be made available. References related to supplemental material only should not be listed in the References section of an article; instead, include them with the supplemental material. Supplemental material will always remain associated with its article and is not subject to any modifications after publication.

Material that has been published previously (in print or online) is not acceptable for posting as supplemental material. Instead, the appropriate reference(s) to the original publication should be made in the manuscript text.

Supplemental material is covered by the Microbiology Spectrum Author Warranty and Provisional License to Publish; copyright for supplemental material remains with the author. If you are not the copyright owner, you must provide to ASM signed permission from the owner that allows ASM to post the material as a supplement to your article. You are responsible for including in the supplemental material any copyright notices required by the owner. For information about supplemental material posting fees, see “Publication Fees.”

Review Process

All manuscripts are considered to be confidential and are reviewed by members of the Microbiology Spectrum Board of Editors.

To expedite the review process, authors are encouraged to recommend one or more Microbiology Spectrum Editors who would be able to handle the review of their manuscript. We strongly recommend that you suggest at least three reviewers who have expertise in the field, who are not members of their institution(s), who have not been recently associated with their laboratory(ies), and who could not otherwise be considered to have a conflict of interest regarding the submitted manuscript.

As part of our commitment to transparency, we strongly encourage our authors to publish peer review reports alongside responses to the reviewers’ comments. Authors can opt-in to publish a peer review file either during initial submission of the paper or whilst submitting their revised paper. Reviewers have the option of disclosing their identities, but they are not obligated to do so.

Copies of in-press and submitted manuscripts that are important for judgment of the present manuscript should be included as Miscellaneous Files Not for Publication to facilitate the review.

When a manuscript is submitted to the journal, it is given a manuscript control number (e.g., Microbiology Spectrum00001-20) and assigned to a member of the Board of Editors. (Always refer to this control number in communications with the editor and the Journals Department.) From there it is assigned to at least two independent experts for peer review. A single-blind review, where authors’ identities are known to reviewers, is applied. It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to inform the coauthors of the manuscript’s status throughout the submission, review, and publication processes. The reviewers operate under strict guidelines set forth in "Reviewer Guidelines"; see also (https://journals.asm.org/reviewers) and are expected to complete their reviews expeditiously.

The corresponding author is notified, generally within 3 or 4 weeks after submission, of the decision to accept, reject, or require modification. When modification is requested, the corresponding author must either submit the modified version within 60 days or withdraw the manuscript. A point-by-point response to the reviews must be provided in a separate file, and a compare copy of the manuscript (without figures) should be included as a Marked Up Manuscript file.

Microbiology Spectrum Publication Schedule
Microbiology Spectrum articles are released in an article-based workflow. Articles are not held until an issue is released. The articles published over the preceding weeks are collected into a bimonthly issue and moved into the Microbiology Spectrum archive.

Rejected Manuscripts

Authors who believe that their manuscript has been unfairly rejected because an important aspect was misunderstood or overlooked by the reviewers may submit an appeal via e-mail to [email protected]. Please include the Spectrum manuscript ID in subject line of this email. The appeal will be processed by the editor-in-chief, who may consult with the editor of the manuscript. Please note that it is uncommon for editorial decisions to be reversed.

Page Proofs

Page proofs, together with a query sheet and instructions for handling proofs, will be made available to the corresponding author electronically. Queries must be answered on the query page, and any changes related to the queries, as well as any additional changes, must be indicated on the proofs. Note that the copy editor does not query at every instance where a change has been made. Queries are written only to request necessary information or clarification of an unclear passage or to draw attention to edits that may have altered the sense. It is the author’s responsibility to read the entire text, tables, and figure legends, not just items queried. Corrected proofs must be returned within two business days after notification of availability.

The proof stage is not the time to make extensive corrections, additions, or deletions. Figures as they appear in the proofs are for validation of content and placement, not quality of reproduction or color accuracy. Print output of figures in the PDF page proofs will be of lower quality than the same figures viewed on a monitor. Please avoid making changes to figures based on quality of color or reproduction in proof.

Important new information that has become available between acceptance of the manuscript and receipt of the proofs may be inserted as an addendum in proof with the approval of the editor. If references to unpublished data or personal communications are added, it is expected that written assurance granting permission for the citation will be included. Limit changes to correction of spelling errors, incorrect data, and grammatical errors and updated information for references to manuscripts that have been submitted or are in press. If URLs have been provided in the article, recheck the sites to ensure that the addresses are still accurate and the material that you expect the reader to find is indeed there.

Questions about proofs should be directed to Spectrum’s Production Editor, Jessica Kanotz ([email protected])

Funding Agency Repositories

ASM allows Microbiology Spectrum authors whose work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other funding agencies that have public access requirements (e.g., the Wellcome Trust) to post their accepted manuscripts in publicly accessible electronic repositories maintained by those funding agencies. If a funding agency does not itself maintain such a site, then ASM allows the author to fulfill that requirement by depositing the article in an appropriate institutional or subject-based open repository established by a government or noncommercial entity. ASM requests that when submitting an accepted manuscript to PMC or a similar public access site, the author specify that the posting release date for the manuscript be no earlier than the date of publication on the Microbiology Spectrum  website.

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