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The advent of SARS-CoV-2 has posed an immense challenge to public health, political, professional, educational, and healthcare systems across the world, as well as to the realm of scientific communication. To effectively control transmission of COVID-19, it is necessary to employ a transdisciplinary approach that consolidates contributions from professions within and beyond the scientific community, including physical, biological and behavioural science, engineering, management, and law. Established scientific journals are often limited to a single professional grouping or disease, and while general-interest journals offer a broader scope, they are not necessarily effective vehicles for science-based information pertinent to pandemic response and other societal challenges.

To fill this critical communication and information gap, we have founded the online peer-reviewed journal WHN Science Communications. This journal seeks to provide a platform for the structured dissemination of expert analysis, advice and recommendations based on the latest knowledge from a variety of relevant disciplines.

The target audience includes experts in individual fields who wish to gain an informed overview, officials leading pandemic response efforts, and members of the public interested in expert overviews of critical issues in the pandemic and health more generally.

Prioritized Contributions

The journal will prioritize contributions that are broadly accessible across disciplines and written for an educated general audience and policymakers. Publications may take the form of written articles, graphics, videos, and illustrations. Careful distinctions will be made between scientific advances that contribute to knowledge that is yet distant from policy relevance, and those that are directly applicable to policy in order to avoid potential distraction or confusion.

Peer Review and Advisory Board

The Journal has an international expert advisory board (Editorial Board) and will subject papers to a rigorous peer review process that is both fast and efficient. In this rapidly changing environment, timely information is essential, and the peer review process has been designed to meet the demands of rapidity and stringency.

Journal Content

The editors will commission a significant proportion of papers in the journal to fit with the contemporary issues concerning COVID-19 emerging globally. Additionally, there will be ample capacity for attracting submissions of well-written, scientifically or professionally sound, and broadly based papers that provide new insights into the pandemic, chart progress or the lack thereof, explore transdisciplinary approaches to prevention, and probe issues of inequality, race, and economy.

All articles and media are published open access.

Author Guidelines

Prior Publications

Prior peer-reviewed publication of a set of results or findings is generally discouraged by WHN Science Communications, but does not necessarily preclude a manuscript from publication. Should a manuscript include material from a previously peer-reviewed publication, it is essential that the authors demonstrate substantive revision of form and advancement of content. This must be in line with WHN Science Communications‘ mission of transdisciplinary research and the timely dissemination of easily understandable science-based information for individuals, organizations, and governments involved in pandemic response. Prior publication on a preprint server or in other non-peer reviewed form does not prevent a manuscript from being published in WHN Science Communications.

Article and Content Types

WHN Science Communications publishes articles in five distinct sections: Responses, Editorials, Reviews, Guidelines, and Updates.

Each section is defined by its purpose, and has specific word limits and reference requirements. Responses and Editorials must be 1,000 words or fewer, with up to 3 references. Reviews may be any length, but the Brief Review format of 1,500 words with 10-20 references is recommended. Guidelines have no length limit, although they should be appropriate to the information they contain. Updates are restricted to 600 words, excluding figures, captions, and equations, though exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.

Responses are intended to provide particularly important and time-sensitive science-based information of relevance to organizations and governments involved in pandemic response. The importance of a response will be evaluated based on the timeliness and significance of its potential to translate knowledge into action or meaningful public or health policy. As responses receive priority for consideration for publication, authors should clearly articulate the need for this type of publication in their initial correspondence with the editors.
Reviews are concise summaries of current scientific understanding of a specific topic and are accessible to both scientific and public/policy audiences. They are written in a clear, concise language to ensure that a broad audience can understand the subject matter. The importance of the review is assessed based on the relevance for public or health policy, and the potential for the knowledge to be translated into action. Reviews should be of importance to both scientific advancement and policy implementations. Authors should clearly state the need for the publication of the review in their initial correspondence with the editors.
Editorials are conceived and written by Editors or Members of the Covid Action Group, and are not open to external submissions.
Guidelines are essential for helping the general public or professional community to effectively implement preventative or mitigative measures against COVID-19. To ensure that the guidelines are clear and easy to understand, they should be formulated in the form of a bulleted list with clear and concise language, as well as references to relevant sources as necessary. Furthermore, multimedia types, such as videos and infographics, should be used whenever possible to make the information more accessible and easier to comprehend.
Updates are intended to keep the public informed about the latest data concerning COVID-19 and its relationship to unfolding events and recommendations for policymakers, medical professionals, and individuals. This includes providing detailed information about such topics as: 1) Dynamics of the pandemic; 2) Behavior of new COVID-19 variants; 3) Policy measures being taken in particular locations; 4) Effectiveness of preventive measures; 5) New developments in medical care. Updates are published in a format similar to MMWR and may contain reports of new data and corresponding recommendations. Updates may also include peer review/critiques of recent announcements by governments, public health agencies, or scientific publications, all relevant to pandemic response.

Submission and Review Procedures

Submission: Authors submit manuscripts to Authors are notified of successful receipt of a submission within two business days.

Submissions formatted in MS WORD or LaTeX are preferred

Authors who submit a manuscript that passes initial editorial assessment are directed to read and sign a publication agreement for transfer of copyrights. This agreement does not take effect until the manuscript is formally accepted for publication in WHN Science Communications, but completion of this agreement expedites the review process.

Review Process: All articles and other items accepted for publication by WHN Science Communications are subjected to peer review. At least one independent expert judges each manuscript as new and useful, and ensures that it makes a valuable contribution to understanding and ending the pandemic, and that the manuscript is free of scientific and writing errors. Neither Journal nor referees guarantee the accuracy or originality of research of accepted manuscripts.

Review Timeline: Turnaround depends on multiple factors, including the availability of referees in a given field, editorial workload, article type, and publication prioritization. Author responses to comments and revisions to manuscripts also play a significant role in the expected timeline of review.

Referee Selection: Editors select one or several referees based upon criteria including the referee’s area of expertise and availability, referee report quality, and the referee’s response time.

Referee Suggestion: Authors are encouraged to suggest possible referees. Referee suggestions can be added during submission. Authors should not suggest previous coauthors or collaborators, unless such suggestions are pre-approved by the editors.

Rejection Without Review: Editors may reject manuscripts they judge to be unsuitable for the journal.

Rounds of Review: Editors work on an accelerated timeline, and final decisions are typically made within the first or second round.

Responding to Referee Reports: Authors should approach referee reports with an open mind. What may seem like a withering attack is more likely an urgent appeal for authors to clarify or generalize manuscript information, and eschew scientific jargon in favor of accessibility without sacrificing research integrity or best practices.

Receipt Date: The receipt date is the date that a manuscript was first received by the editors, as determined by the clock of WHN Science Communication’s submission server. This date is carried through all the way to publication, unless revisions are substantial or prolonged, in which case a new date will be assigned to the published manuscript.

Readability and Accessibility: Presentations and written language are expected to be clear, unambiguous, and actionable. Unlike many journals, the usefulness and accessibility of information to audiences outside an author’s narrow field is given substantial weight, alongside scholarly integrity, originality, and interest.

Editorial Policy

WHN Science Communications (WHNSC) is published under the aegis of the World Health Network Covid Action Group (CAG). Editors in chief have special responsibility for overall policy matters concerning WHN Science Communications. They are responsible for integrity of content, policy recommendations, and editorial matters relating to the Journal, and may be advised by the Editorial Board.

Members of WHNC’s Editorial Board are appointed by the WHN Steering Group in consultation with the Covid Action Group. Due to the ongoing and dynamic nature of the pandemic and the relationship of the Journal thereto, Editorial Board members serve at the discretion of their professional and personal capacities — but are generally requested to serve not less than six month terms. They may be asked by the Editors-in-Chief to advise in the review process, or adjudicate author appeals​.

About the Journal

WHN Science Communications is the official publication of the World Health Network, and the only journal dedicated to the timely dissemination of critical and transdisciplinary material on the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHN Science Communications transcends professional and traditional scientific boundaries to provide rigorous yet accessible science-based communications essential to producing the most effective responses at the community, national, and international levels, including Responses, Reviews, Editorials, Guidelines, and Updates, published at both weekly and monthly intervals.

Our authors represent the most credible voices in their disciplines, across the fields of public policy, behavioral science, engineering, management, law, and architecture – in addition to original STEM research.

Our Joint Editors-in-Chief are Carlos Gershenson, Matthias Schneider, Stephane Bilodeau, and Yaneer Bar-Yam.

WHN Communications is hosted by the Covid Action Group (CAG) and New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI).