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Submission Guidelines

The Prairie Naturalist welcomes articles reporting original research in any field of biological science that contributes to our understanding of the natural history and ecology of Great Plains organisms and their habitats. Manuscripts containing original material not submitted elsewhere are considered for publication; all manuscripts are reviewed by specialists in relevant fields. Currently, the peer-review process for manuscripts is 2 to 3 months.

Authors should follow the recommendations of the Council of Biology Editors Style Manual prepared by the Committee on Form and Style of the Council of Biology Editors, Cambridge University Press. Prior to submitting a new manuscript, authors should review the manuscript guidelines presented in The Prairie Naturalist Manuscript Guidelines (PDF). These instructions supersede all previous guidelines for The Prairie Naturalist. Publication in The Prairie Naturalist will proceed most smoothly if authors understand the policy, procedures, format, and style of the journal.

The Prairie Naturalist considers manuscripts of varying lengths. The page numbers noted below include title page, abstract, text, literature cited, tables, and figures. All text must be double-spaced in Times New Roman font. Select from the following submission options based on the length of your manuscript:

  • <14 pages: PNAT Research Note. Notes provide an outlet for publication of information that is relevant and important but lacks in spatial or temporal replication. Notes are not designed to serve as an outlet for publication of research that lacks appropriate scope or is better suited for regional or other outlets. Notes have different format requirements than feature-length manuscripts; authors need to closely follow The Prairie Naturalist Manuscript Guidelines for notes.
  • 15–50 pages: PNAT Research Article.
  • >51 pages: PNAT Article. The PNAT editor-in-chief will decide on the appropriate submission venue for these manuscripts on a case-by-case basis.

Manuscripts should be submitted electronically at this email address. Manuscript submission must be accompanied by a cover letter addressed to the editor-in-chief that includes the following information:

  • Corresponding author must indicate that he or she has checked with each listed contributing author for permission to submit the manuscript in its current form to The Prairie Naturalist.
  • Authors are responsible for recognizing and disclosing any duality of interest that could be perceived to bias their work, acknowledging all financial support and any other personal connections.
  • Authors must indicate if any of the results, date, or figures from the manuscript have been published or if they are under consideration elsewhere. Guidelines for previous publication are flexible in certain instances, such as technical analyses of findings published previously for lay audiences. Kendall (1981) elaborated on the seriousness of dual publication, and The Prairie Naturalist subscribes to these standards. If any portion of the manuscript has been published or reported elsewhere, explain all similarities between information in the manuscript and the other publication and furnish a citation of such publications or manuscripts.
    • A manuscript is considered published if the following apply:
      • The manuscript appears in a serial publication abstracted by Biological Abstracts or a similar reference volume. 
      • The manuscript appears in a book (including conference proceedings) printed in >500 copies and widely distributed to libraries. 
      • The manuscript has been published as part of a numbered series by an agency. 
      • The manuscript is a symposium proceeding—The Prairie Naturalist will consider symposium proceedings on a case-by-case basis. Contact the editor-in-chief for approval before submitting your symposia proceeding.
    • A manuscript is not considered published if the following apply:
      • The manuscript is a thesis or dissertation.
      • The manuscript is a brief abstract of a talk given at a meeting.
      • The manuscript is an unpublished report required by sponsors and not distributed as part of a numbered series or in other ways that might result in accession by libraries.
  • Appropriate documentation that proper animal care and use was applied when using live vertebrate animals for research must be provided. Acceptable means of documentation include an Institutional Animal Care and Use Protocol number (as designated by most U.S. universities), the number of the permit or license issued to hold animals (such as with private breeders), or the equivalent. This policy covers all vertebrate animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
  • Appropriate documentation that proper approval was obtained to perform research involving human subjects (primarily surveys) must be provided. Acceptable means of documentation include a Human Subjects Protocol number (as designated by most U.S. universities) or the equivalent.

Upon receipt of a new submission, the editorial staff examines the manuscript for proper style, format, and appropriate subject matter. If style and format are seriously flawed, the paper will likely be returned for revision before being sent to reviewers. If the subject matter is obviously inappropriate, the editor-in-chief will return the paper to the author with an explanatory letter and suggestions for other possible venues of publication.

The editor-in-chief selects an associate editor (AE) knowledgeable in the manuscript’s subject matter to manage the initial review process. The AE then assigns peer-reviewed manuscripts to two qualified reviewers of the AE’s choice. Reviewers are selected using a variety of selection criteria, including professional expertise, knowledge of the subject matter, affiliation, geographic location, date of last review, and performance on previous reviews.

Reviewers are emailed and asked to complete their review within 4 weeks. Upon accepting the assignment, reviewers are immediately sent the manuscript by the assigned AE. Reminder notices are sent on a regular basis by AEs until the review has been received. Despite these measures, occasionally it is necessary to replace delinquent reviewers with alternative reviewers who are able to complete their reviews in a timely manner. If there is a delay in obtaining timely reviews, either the editor-in-chief or the AE will contact the author(s) and apprise them of the situation.

Reviewers' comments are sent via email to the AE, who usually renders decisions on manuscripts in 1 of 3 ways following his or her own review of the manuscript and objective assessment of review comments, including

  • Forwarding the manuscript to the editor-in-chief with a recommendation to publish without revision (extremely rare);
  • Returning the manuscript to the author with review comments and suggestions for revision (ranging from minor to major); or 
  • Rejecting the manuscript. It is not unusual for the revision process to take 1–3 months, depending upon the extent of revisions.

The editor-in-chief and AE reserve the right to send manuscripts needing major revisions back out for review prior to making any decision.

Though uncommon, the editor-in-chief or AE occasionally determines that a reviewer’s comments were superficial or otherwise inadequate, revealed biases, lacked objectivity or logic, or otherwise lacked merit. In such cases, the editor-in-chief or AE may request an additional review from an additional reviewer or ask for a manuscript revision despite negative comments from 1 or 2 reviewers. A second opinion from reviewers who recommended rejection also may be requested, particularly on manuscripts that are considered further following major revisions.

The process of revising manuscripts often requires several iterations before the AE makes a final decision. Typically, manuscripts returned to authors for revision must be resubmitted as a revision via email within the time frame designated by the editor-in-chief or AE. Manuscripts returned after the allotted time frame for revisions will be rejected, thus requiring resubmission as a new paper. However, the editor-in-chief or AE may grant a reasonable extension on revision deadlines, depending on circumstances surrounding the paper. Once a completed revision is returned, the revised manuscript is reviewed again by the AE (and sometimes sent out for additional peer review) and either rejected or forwarded to the editor-in-chief with a recommendation to accept the manuscript for publication.

Final acceptance of manuscripts is decided by the editor-in-chief. The editor-in-chief bears final responsibility for the value and quality of materials that appear in The Prairie Naturalist and makes decisions accordingly. These decisions may differ from reviewers' comments seen by authors and recommendations made by reviewers, including the AE. In rare instances, the editor-in-chief's decision to accept or reject a manuscript will not agree with the recommendation made by an AE.

In rendering a decision, the editor-in-chief evaluates the manuscript and the comments of the review team. The following are some of the problems that typically result in rejection:

  • Flaws in study design or logic that make the results invalid, biased, or questionable
  • Failure to contribute new knowledge
  • Trivial subject matter
  • Previous publication of the same or closely related material
  • Poor organization and presentation