Focus and Scope

Ideas in Ecology and Evolution publishes forum-style articles that develop new ideas or that involve original commentaries on any topics within the broad domains of fundamental or applied ecology or evolution. They may encompass any level of biological organization, and involve any taxa, including humans. Articles may concern subject matter within any recognized sub-discipline of ecology or evolution, or they may be broader in scope, including articles that aim to inform fields of study outside of biology. 

Creativity and controversy are the catalysts of scientific enquiry. The central mission of this journal is to provide a rapidly published repository for cutting-edge novel thinking and opinion-pieces—to serve effectively as a ‘catalogue' for modelers and empiricists, as well as for educators and the media, from which they can ‘shop' for original ideas and hypotheses that have been subjected to critical evaluation and response by professional biologists, and that are available to be explored, debated and tested.  As a reliable source of inspiration, Ideas in Ecology and Evolution aims to play a leading role in guiding the direction and progress of both future research and public awareness in ecology and evolution.

IEE does not publish traditional review articles, or papers based primarily on experimental, data-driven studies.  However, new reports of anecdotal information or observations, or new analysis of previously published data may be considered as a minor component of the paper if it provides particularly effective inspiration for further study, e.g. as a compelling preliminary/exploratory test of the new idea or illustration of the central argument of a commentary. 

IEE also does not publish papers based primarily on mathematical/quantitative modeling. A high priority must be placed on maximizing ease of readability and facilitation of understanding for a wide audience of potential readers using good narrative with a minimum of jargon. Hence, explanation and development of the idea must be based on logical verbal argument that may include conceptual/qualitative modeling. Minor use of mathematical expression may be used but only if it contributes significantly in clarifying or otherwise supporting the idea.


Journal Sections

Ideas in Ecology and Evolution hosts the following five indexed sections:

Editorials: these articles are written by members of the editorial team, periodically providing readers, authors, and reviewers with information about, and reflection on the direction of, Ideas in Ecology and Evolution. Submissions to this section are by invitation.

New Idea: These articles must introduce a new idea related to the study of ecology or evolution, using straightfoward arguments that address the novelty, plausibility, and testability of the idea, plus its coparison with any other similar, previously published ideas or theory. The manuscript must include a succinct discussion of how the idea has significant potential to impact on the discipline, and hence, why it merits further study. Submissions to this section are open to all interested authors, and will be peer reviewed

Commentary: These articles provide a critique or commentary on an article previously published in Ideas in Ecology and Evoultion, or a short original opinion-piece relating to a topic in ecology or evolution (IEE does not publishe traditional comprehensive review papers). Submissions to this section are open to all interested authors, and will be peer reviewed.

Book Reviews: Submissions to this section are open to all interested authors. 

Future of Publishing: This section focuses specifically on commentary and analyses that provide insights into the process of scholarly communication in ecology and evolution. These articles provide exploration, interpretations, and recommendations for advancing communication tools for researchers, and the dissemination of all forms of research products. Submissions to this section are open to all interested authors, and will be peer reviewed.

Political and Social Issues:  This section addresses important linkages that ecology, evolution, and environmental science have with political discourse and contemporary culture. These articles may include commentaries, solution sets, critiques, novel mindsets, and analyses of political/social developments/interventions.


Publication Frequency

Individual articles are published online as soon as they are ready, by adding them to the "current" volume's Table of Contents. All articles published within a given year will have the same Volume number.

Open Access Policy

Users of IEE have the right to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to full texts of published articles, as licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


IEE uses Scholars Portal, and also the LOCKSS system to create a distributed archiving system among participating libraries and permits those libraries to create permanent archives of the journal for purposes of preservation and restoration. For more information, follow this link: Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe


Peer Review Process

An important mission of IEE is to promote objective, accountable reviewing, and potential collaboration through productive exchange between authors and referees. Accordingly, referees for Ideas in Ecology and Evolution are not anonymous. Referee identity is reported directly within the published paper. Approved referees will normally hold a PhD, or be registered in, and expected soon to complete, a PhD program.  Potential referees for whom there is a perceived conflict of interest, will not be approved.

IEE offers two options for peer review: the conventional model (where the editor invites referees and arranges for peer-review of submitted manuscripts), and an Author-Directed Peer-Review (ADPR) model (where authors submit manuscripts only after they have been peer-reviewed, and with any recommended revisions already completed). ADPR provides several advantages over the conventional peer-review system—including faster publication time and reduced author fees (see Aarssen and Lortie 2010).

For submission using the conventional peer-review system, we anticipate that referees will be particularly attracted to the efficient ‘pipeline' model for submitting reviews (see Instructions For Reviewers below). In this way, a well-written paper that proposes a novel, plausible, and testable idea that has potential to impact on the discipline can be quickly reviewed with a few mouse clicks on a standard form, and with no requirement for additional written comments. Authors using the ADPR system are also encouraged to direct referees to the 'pipeline' model when reviewing manuscripts intended for submission to IEE.

Referees also receive an important incentive for their contribution: If the paper is accepted for publication, each referee is entitled to publish (at no cost) his/her views on the paper as a response article—peer reviewed by both the editors and the author; the author of the original paper is, in this case, required to provide a 'review of the review' as a concluding section within the original paper. This provides the referees with a peer-reviewed publication within the journal without being charged the usual author fee.

At the end of the review process, each of the three contributors (author plus two referees) may get individual credit for their own separate peer-reviewed publications of their proposals, critiques, revisions, and/or development of the idea, thus promoting rapid and thorough evaluation and maturation of the idea. With cost-free refereed publications of their own as incentives, we anticipate that referees will be inclined to be objective, thoughtful, and prompt in their review of the manuscript, thus promoting rapid, high-quality reviews. Once the author's idea and its evaluation by referees are published, readers of the journal should be well equipped to make informed predictions concerning the value of the idea and its likelihood of affecting future progress of the discipline. Moreover, readers also have the opportunity to provide further development/critique of the idea through submission of a Commentary article to the journal (see Author Guidelines). This in turn provides additional (post-publication) peer-review of the original paper.

Review Form

One of the central goals of Ideas in Ecology and Evolution is to reduce the subjectivity and bias associated with the review process. In addition to the non-blind review process (see Peer Review Process above), Ideas in Ecology and Evolution uses a questionnaire-based standard review form.

A sample review form is available here. Referees assigned by the editor to review a manuscript will receive a copy of this review form with the Manuscript. Authors using the ADPR system are also encouraged to direct referees to this form when reviewing manuscripts intended for submission to IEE.

Instructions For Reviewers

Referees are asked to provide their assessment of the five core criteria (see Author Guidelines), positively or negatively as the case may be. Negative assessment must be accompanied by well-argued reasoning. Reviews are structured efficiently using a series of ‘point and click' questions/instructions to be answered and completed using a standard form (see Review Form), and may be accompanied (if the referee wishes) by a separate written response to the paper that embodies the content of the review for potential publication together with the paper, in the event that it is accepted. Such referee responses, therefore, should be 'publication-ready' in this event, and should normally be no more than 2000 words in length, with at most one illustration (figure or table). For submissions using the ADPR system, referees (for accepted papers) will be invited by the editor to submit a response paper in the event that they indicated their interest in doing so on the ADPR form. Referees should refer to the Manuscript Specifications detailed under Author Guidelines for formatting instructions of a response paper.

Reviewers should note that the decision to accept or reject a manuscript submitted to Ideas in Ecology and Evolution ultimately depends on the specific combinations of responses to the questions in the standard Review Form. The decision making process is described in detail in the document, Review Pipeline For Manuscript Evaluation. Reviewers should read this document carefully, as it indicates what information should be included if they choose to accompany their standard review with a separate written response (as described above).

If a manuscript is accepted for publication, both referees are identified by name, affiliation, and email address within the paper. Each referee is then entitled to have his/her review/response published as a response article after any required copy-editing and/or revision to address manuscript specifications. This response paper will be reviewed by both the original author and the editor(s).

Plagiarism Policy

Reviewers for IEE are expected to screen for plagiarism, and editors are also vigilant in guarding against it.  Identification of plagiarism within a submission will result in immediate rejection.