Journal policies

Editorial policy

UCL (University College London) and UCL Press regard it as fundamental that research should be conducted and published according to ethical guidelines. Users will find further information about the journal’s editorial policies online at

Peer review policy

UCL Open: Environment operates an open and transparent peer review process where readers can assess the peer reviewer reports as part of the article’s review history. Articles submitted to the journal are first posted to the preprint server to undergo open peer review before being published officially in the journal after editorial acceptance. 

Important note: all preprint articles are declared as not yet peer reviewed.

UCL Open Environment requires at least two external peer reviews of a submitted article to be made openly available online before an editorial decision for official publication in the journal can be made. As far as possible, assigned editors and invited reviewers will not possess any potential conflicts of interests to the submitted article. However, where this is not possible, in circumstances where specific and required expertise or other reasons that are deemed necessary, any decision to publish may require additional review to maintain fair review practice. The journal Editor may also decide to reject a review after considering any and all conflicts of interest and the reviewer will be informed of this decision. The Editor’s decision is final.

More information about how the journals publication workflow can be found here.

Who can review for UCL Open: Environment?

Reviewers are invited by the Editor based on subject expertise. In addition, as the journal operates open peer review (the names and affiliations of reviewers are published alongside their review reports), authors are also encouraged to help expedite the peer review process by inviting reviewers to review their paper openly. 

As a general guide, peer reviewers should hold expert knowledge of the specific disciplines to which your article relates. For example, it is usual for many peer reviewers to hold a doctorate (PhD/MD/MBBS or equivalent). In subjects or fields where doctorates are less common or reviewers are currently in process of completing one, we recommend these individuals provide via their ORCID profile a demonstrable public record of expertise.

If you are interested in reviewing for the journal and wish to register your interest with the journal Editors, please contact the editorial office with your details and subject expertise by emailing

Reviewers invited by authors are required to have five published records associated with their ORCID to demonstrate that reviewers are active and professional researchers. Any professional or researcher who would like to review a paper but has fewer than five published records associated with an ORCID is advised to contact the editorial office to register their interest in reviewing a paper.

Open Science Peer Review Oath*

UCL Open: Environment expect all reviewers to adhere to the four core principles as outlined here when writing a review.

Principle 1: I will sign my name to my review
Principle 2: I will review with integrity
Principle 3: I will treat the review as a discourse with you; in particular, I will provide constructive criticism
Principle 4: I will be an ambassador for the practice of Open Science

UCL Open: Environment aspires to select and publish, through peer review, the highest-quality environment-related research. To achieve this, the peer review process must be objective, fair and thorough. This peer review policy and commenting code of conduct outlines how peer review and commenting to be conducted. Please note that this review policy is part of the journal’s publishing policies as outlined on the editorial policies web page at

*The Open Science Peer Review Oath was compiled during the AllBio: Open Science and Reproducibility Best Practice Workshop: Aleksic J, Alexa A, Attwood TK et al. An Open Science Peer Review Oath . F1000Research 2015, 3:271 (

Ethical obligations of reviewers

To ensure the highest quality research in UCL Press publications, reviewers are expected to uphold the following when reviewing:

1. Provide clearly written, unbiased feedback in a timely manner on the scholarly and/or scientific merits and value of the work, together with a documented basis for the reviewer’s opinion. Judge the paper on its merits without regard to personal bias, ethnic origin, race, religion, citizenship, language, political or other opinion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, appearance, age, or economic class, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the author(s).
2. Thoroughly address all review criteria provided by the journal.
3. Decline to review manuscripts for which the reviewer lacks sufficient time, is not qualified, or has a conflict of interest with any of the authors, including personal or competitive relationships.
4. Explain and support judgments adequately so that Editors and authors may understand the basis of their comments. Any statement by a reviewer on an observation, derivation or argument that has been previously published should be accompanied by the relevant citation.
5. Provide citations to relevant work by other scientists as appropriate.
6. Alert the Editor to any significant similarity between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper or manuscript submitted concurrently to another journal. Report any plagiarism or the appearance of plagiarism.
7. Never use or disclose unpublished information, arguments or interpretations contained in a manuscript under consideration, except with the consent of the author.
8. Never include personal criticism of the author in reviewing a manuscript

Peer reviewer code of conduct

UCL Open: Environment aims to provide a safe, open, and professional environment for learning and communicating research with integrity, respect, fairness, trustworthiness, and transparency. Open debate and commenting are an important aspect of the scientific endeavour to encourage constructive criticism and high quality discussions of scientific issues that will both enhance understanding and provide new avenues of collaboration within the community.

Reviews and/or comments will be monitored to ensure that they contribute to the scholarly debate. Any reviews and/or comments that appear to be advertising, potentially libellous or legally problematic (including comments revealing any personal and/or sensitive information) will not be published. The Editors of the journal will not accept comments that are offensive, indecent or contain negative comments of a personal, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation or religious character. All comments must be written in good English; a comment may be rejected if it is deemed unintelligible. 

While we welcome open scholarly debate and discussion, we will not tolerate abusive behaviour towards our authors and reviewers via our Comment system or via social media. In extreme cases we will consider contacting the affiliated institution to report the abusive behaviour of individuals.

When posting a review and/or comments in the journal, users agree to these terms and conditions set out here.

Open data policy

Data has the power to revolutionise and disrupt the way societies are governed for the better. This is especially the case with open data, which is free to access, free to use, and can be shared by anyone. That is why UCL Open: Environment strongly encourages all authors to make all data on which the conclusions of their paper rely freely available to readers.

What is data?

Data are facts, observations or experiences on which an argument or theory is constructed or tested. Data may be numerical, descriptive, aural or visual. Data may be raw, abstracted or analysed, experimental or observational. Data include but are not limited to: laboratory notebooks; field notebooks; primary research data (including research data in hard copy or in computer-readable form); questionnaires; audiotapes; videotapes; models; photographs; films; and test responses. Research collections may include slides; artefacts; specimens; and samples. 

FAIR Data Principles

UCL Open: Environment supports the FAIR Data Principles (

Findable – making research outputs discoverable by the wider academic community and the public;
Accessible – using unique identifiers, metadata and a clear use of language and access protocols;
Interoperable – applying standards to encode and exchange data and metadata;
Reusable – enabling the repurposing of research outputs to maximise their research potential. 

Data availability statement

Authors must clearly state in their manuscript where their data are made available at time of submission. In circumstances where ethical and legal issues dictate any restrictions on sharing data (including research using personal data), a statement to this effect must be included for clarity. Where a widely established research community expectation for data archiving in public repositories exists, submission to a community-endorsed, public repository is mandatory. Persistent identifiers (such as DOIs and accession numbers) for relevant data must be provided in the manuscript.

During submission, authors are required to confirm the data availability statement to indicate how fellow researchers can access their software and data and link to data sets in repositories. Authors will be required to select one of the following statements:

  1. The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the repository: *[source]
  2. The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
  3. Data sharing not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.
  4. All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article (and its supplementary information files).
  5. The data that support the findings of this study are available from *[source] but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available. Data are however available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of *[source]

* You may add a link here to your data sets and/or software at a standard data repository. We also strongly encourage you to cite your data in the reference section according to the Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles.

Citing data and data deposit

For support on best practice and how to cite to data already deposited elsewhere, authors are advised to use a free citation generator now available online at Prior to submission, all authors should ensure that their data are either deposited in publicly available repositories (for example, such as GenBankTreeBASEDryad, the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity or other  general subject suitable long-term and stable public repositories such as Figshare) whenever possible, or have included in the main text for open peer review if appropriate.

UCL authors are encouraged to use the UCL Research Data Repository (please see For further information including about FAIR data sharing, all authors can find some useful information about when, where, and how to share data as openly as possible, here

Handling sensitive & personal data

In circumstances where ethical and legal issues dictate, any restrictions on sharing data (including research using personal data) should always be considered when storing and preserving research data. The journal also does not require public sharing of other sensitive data, such as the locations of endangered species. Alternatives to public sharing of sensitive or personal data include:

  • Deposition of research data in controlled access repositories.
  • Anonymisation or deidentification of data before public sharing.
  • Only sharing metadata about research data.
  • Stating the procedures for accessing your research data in your article and managing data access requests from other researchers.

UCL Open: Environment adheres to the UCL Research Data policy statement: 'as open as possible, as closed as necessary' as outlined online at

Data repositories

The preferred mechanism for sharing research data is via data repositories. For help finding relevant research data repositories please see

Data citation

The journal encourages authors to cite any publicly available research data in their reference list. References to datasets (data citations) must include a persistent identifier (such as a DOI). Citations of datasets, when they appear in the reference list, should include the minimum information recommended by DataCite and follow journal style.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

As a part of UCL, UCL Press and its publication UCL Open: Environment are committed to UCL’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy as outlined online at

In particular:

UCL defines “equality” as the absence of unjust social hierarchy such as those based on age, disability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and religion, and “diversity” as the presence of different cultural traditions and identities.

We wish to foster a positive cultural climate where all staff and students can flourish, where no-one will feel compelled to conceal or play down elements of their identity for fear of stigma. UCL will be a place where people can be authentic and their unique perspective, experiences and skills seen as a valuable asset to the institution.

UCL Press and the Editorial Board Members of UCL Open: Environment aim to foster this positive cultural climate for all authors, reviewers, users and staff of the publication, to discuss, debate and encourage critical thinking on real world problems with the aim of benefitting humanity.