The peer review process for PLOS Biology involves an academic editor in addition to reviewers (if the manuscript is sent to review). The role of the academic editor is to advise the PLOS Biology editorial staff throughout the evaluation process, from initial assessment to final decision, including any revisions of the manuscript.
When we invite a member of the board or another scientist to act as an academic editor, we do not ask them to provide a full review of the submission. Instead, we ask for an expert input on whether the paper merits formal peer review for PLOS Biology, given that we are aiming to publish papers of the standard seen typically in the highest tier of journals. We also invite the academic editor to comment on any glaring experimental holes, but these issues are generally left for expert reviewers to assess.
Normally the academic editor’s interaction occurs at two specific points in the review cycle, though we may occasionally contact an academic editor for advice at other points:
If a paper receives a revision decision we ask that the academic editor remains involved, in the same role, for the subsequent review cycle(s).
Please note that the identity of the academic editor remains anonymous to the authors and any reviewers during the editorial process. However, should the manuscript be accepted for publication, the authors are notified of the academic editor's identity at the time of acceptance. In addition, the name of the academic editor is published with the article.