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Aperta User Guide for Reviewers

   Important information about reviewing for PLOS Biology

PLOS Biology is transitioning from Aperta™ to the Editorial Manager submission system. Submit your comments using the link to the submission system mentioned in the invitation letter.

About this Guide

This guide contains step-by-step instructions for reviewers using the Aperta™ submission and peer review system. Enter the system now.

Before you begin

  • Read the full PLOS Biology reviewer guidelines to learn about general expectations for reviewers. 

Quick links

Signing In

You must have a PLOS account to access Aperta. You only need one account to access all of your manuscripts in Aperta, whether you are an author, reviewer, or Editorial Board member.

Existing accounts

If you have previously used a PLOS account to comment on published articles on the PLOS journal websites or to sign up for eTOC alerts, you will use the same credentials to access Aperta. You may also have a PLOS account if you have served as an Editorial Board Member.

Go to the Aperta homepage and click Sign in with PLOS.

Enter your credentials on the PLOS sign-in screen to access the system. If you need to recover your password, click the Forgot your password link to have reset instructions emailed to you. 

New accounts

To set up a new PLOS account, go to the Aperta homepage and click Create an account.

On the next screen, fill out the form with your contact information and password. Then click Create Account.

When you submit the form, you will receive a confirmation email from plos.org with a link to verify your account. Click the link in the confirmation email to complete your account registration. You will then be redirected to the sign-in page. Click Sign in with PLOS and enter your new credentials.

Please do not create more than one account for yourself. To change your email address, affiliation, or other details, sign in to to your account and edit the information. 

If you are having trouble accessing your account, try resetting your password. For further assistance, email the journal.

Your Aperta Profile

Your Profile in Aperta displays your account information. To access your Profile, click on your name in the upper right-hand corner of your screen and select Profile in the dropdown menu.

The Profile includes a button to connect or create an ORCID iD. This opens a popup window where you can enter your ORCID information or register for a new ORCID iD.

 

PLOS requires that all corresponding authors provide an ORCID iD when submitting a manuscript, and we encourage everyone participating in the peer review process to have one. Learn more about ORCID at PLOS. For more information about how to set up your ORCID iD in Aperta, watch this short video

Reviewer Invitations

When you are asked to evaluate a manuscript submitted to PLOS Biology, you will receive an invitation via email. Your invitation will include the manuscript title, abstract, and author list, including author affiliations. Click the links in the email to accept or decline the invitation. 

Accessing Aperta

If you do not have a PLOS account when you are invited to review a manuscript, you will be prompted to create one when you accept the assignment. On the account registration screen, enter your name and a password. Then click Create Account to proceed to view the manuscript.

If you are signed in to Aperta, you can access your invitations directly from Your Manuscripts by clicking the green View Invitations button. 

Clicking View Invitations opens a new screen with the title, abstract, and author list of the manuscript you have been invited to evaluate. Use the buttons to accept or decline the invitation. 

If you decline the invitation, you will be prompted to provide a reason for declining and to suggest alternate reviewers for the manuscript. This feedback is valuable to us so we encourage you to provide as much information as possible.

If you accept the invitation, you will automatically be redirected to the manuscript.

Reviewer competing interests
You should not accept an invitation if you have any academic, financial, or personal competing interests. Read our full policy on competing interests. The reviewer invitation includes author information (including institutions) to help you with your decision. If you are unsure if your situation constitutes a competing interest, please email the journal.

Review timeline
Typically, the due date is 10 days from the date of accepting the invitation. You can find the due date on the Review card or in the email that you received confirming the assignment. You do not need to submit the review by a certain time on the due date, even if you see a time indicated with the assignment. If you need more time to complete your review, please email the journal.

Viewing Your Assignments

When you view the submission you are assigned to review, the manuscript text will appear on the left-hand side of the screen. Information about the submission, such as the author list, data availability statement, or additional materials, will appear on the right as a list of cards. Click a card title to expand the card and view the contents.

At the top of the list is a Review card with your name on it. This is where you will enter your comments. 

You can also use the Downloads button in the navigation bar to download current and prior versions of the uploaded manuscript. 

Note that some PDFs of Word files may contain conversion errors. If you suspect a conversion error, refer to the Word file.

You can return to your assignments at any time by clicking Your Manuscripts at the top of the window.

Submitting Your Review

The Review card asks you to provide the following information: 

  • Recommend a decision.
  • Declare any potential competing interests.
  • If you wish for your identity to be revealed to the authors, include your name. PLOS encourages transparency in the review process. 
  • Include comments for the authors. For research articles, comment on the quality of the statistical analysis and whether the manuscript adheres to standards for data availability. For magazine articles, comment on the quality of any unpublished data that is included and whether it supports the conclusions. 
  • Include additional confidential comments for the editor, such as concerns about dual publication, research ethics, or publication ethics.
  • If the manuscript is not suitable for publication in PLOS Biology, comment on whether it might be suitable for publication in another PLOS journal (specify which journal), and indicate whether you would be willing to continue there as a reviewer.
Read the full reviewer guidelines for information about what to assess when you are reviewing for  PLOS Biology.

When you have completed your review, click the green Submit this Report button at the bottom of the Review card. This will send your review to the journal office. 

More information about completing your review

Do I need to submit my review all at once?
The system will save your review as you work. You can navigate away from an un-submitted review and resume your work at a later date, but please remember to submit your final comments by the designated due date.

Can I upload my review as an attachment?
Please enter all comments in the text boxes provided. If you have any supporting documents to include with your review, you may upload them to the card.

Can a postdoctoral researcher or someone else help me with the review?
Yes. If you received assistance with your review, explicitly state this in the Review card as part of your confidential comments to the editor. Be sure to include the name of the person who assisted with the review.

Who will see my review?
Editors and PLOS staff will be able to view your review comments in the completed Review card. Authors and any other reviewers on the manuscript will see via the decision letter only the comments you enter regarding the manuscript’s overall suitability for PLOS Biology, the quality of the statistical analysis, and whether it adheres to standards for data availability. 

Will I be notified of the decision? 
When a decision is made, you will be notified by email. 

Reviewing a Revision

If you are invited to comment on a revised version of a manuscript you previously reviewed, you will receive another invitation by email. If you accept, you will receive a new Review card. The card will contain the same questions as for the previous version of the manuscript. You can view the report you previously submitted in the Review History section at the bottom of the card.

On the Response to Reviewers card, you can read the authors’ response to reviewers. Depending on how the authors’ response has been provided, you will be able to read the comments directly on the card or access them in a downloadable file. This card will also contain the prior decision letter(s) as well as a version of the authors’ revised manuscript with changes highlighted in the document. 

You can compare two versions of a DOC or DOCX manuscript file by using the Versions tool in the navigation bar above the manuscript. You can also compare information entered on the submission cards. 

Note that the versioning tool cannot be used to compare PDF to DOC/DOCX submissions. Also, if the previous manuscript was submitted as a PDF, figures and supporting information files will not be comparable on the Figures and Supporting Information cards. To view and compare these items, click the Downloads button to access the previous PDF.

  • Now Viewing refers to the current version of the manuscript or submission card
  • Compare With refers to the older version of the manuscript or submission card that you are comparing against the current version

The versions window will highlight all deleted text in red highlights and all new text in green. Click X to leave the tool.

Which version is which?

Version numbering starts at R0.0 for research articles, and is triggered when the author submits the initial submission.

R0 Initial submission of research article
R0.1 Manuscript submitted with additional information for the peer review process
R0.2, R0.3, R0.4, etc. When a full submission goes through the technical check process, the version number increases incrementally depending on how many times the submission is returned to the author to make any changes in preparation for peer review.
R1.0 Manuscript revised and resubmitted after receiving its first revise decision
R1.1, R1.2, etc. When a revised submission goes through the technical check process, the version number increases incrementally depending on how many times the revised submission is returned to the author to make any changes.