All submissions to mSphere® must be made electronically via the mSphere online submission and peer review system. First-time users must create an Author account.
All manuscripts are considered to be confidential and are reviewed by members of the mSphere Board of Editors.
To expedite the review process, authors must recommend at least one senior editor and two editors from the mSphere Board of Editors who would be able to handle the review of their manuscript. Authors also must suggest at least three reviewers who have expertise in the field, who are not members of their institution(s), who have not been recently associated with their laboratory(ies), and who could not otherwise be considered to have a conflict of interest regarding the submitted manuscript. Impersonation of another individual during the review process is considered serious misconduct.
Copies of in-press and submitted manuscripts that are important for judgment of the present manuscript should be included as supplemental material to facilitate the review.
When a manuscript is submitted to the journal, it is given a manuscript control number (e.g., mSphere00001-17) and assigned to a member of the Board of Editors. (Always refer to this control number in communications with the editor and the Journals Department.) From there it is assigned to at least two independent experts for peer review. A single-blind review, where authors’ identities are known to reviewers, is applied. It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to inform the coauthors of the manuscript’s status throughout the submission, review, and publication processes. The reviewers operate under strict guidelines set forth in “Guidelines for Reviewers” and are expected to complete their reviews expeditiously.
The corresponding author is notified, generally within 3 or 4 weeks after submission, of the decision to accept, reject, or require modification. When modification is requested, the corresponding author must either submit the modified version within 60 days or withdraw the manuscript. A point-by-point response to the reviews must be provided in a separate file, and a compare copy of the manuscript (without figures) should be included as a “Marked Up Manuscript” file.
Authors who believe that their manuscript has been unfairly rejected because an important aspect was misunderstood or overlooked by the reviewers may submit an appeal via e-mail to mSphere@asmusa.org. The appeal will be processed by the editor in chief, who may consult with the editor(s) of the manuscript. Please note that it is uncommon for editorial decisions to be reversed.
Manuscripts that have been rejected, or withdrawn after being returned for modification, may be resubmitted to mSphere (one time only; see next paragraph) if the major criticisms have been addressed. A scientifically sound manuscript rejected by another ASM journal for lack of sufficient priority may be considered by mSphere.
The cover letter of every resubmitted manuscript must state that the manuscript is a resubmission, and the former manuscript control number must be provided in the appropriate field on the submission form. A point-by-point response to the review(s) must be included ("Response to Reviewer Comments" file), and a copy of the revised manuscript tracking the changes (as a “Marked Up Manuscript” file) should be included as well. Manuscripts resubmitted to the same journal are normally handled by the original editor. Rejected manuscripts may be resubmitted only once unless permission has been obtained from the original editor or from the editor in chief.
Manuscripts Reviewed by Non-ASM Journals
mSphere offers expedited review for manuscripts previously reviewed by certain highly selective non-ASM journals. If you feel, after addressing any outstanding reviewer comments from the other journal, that the manuscript may be suitable for publication in mSphere, please reformat it per mSphere guidelines and include the following items in your submission:
- A cover letter declaring the previous submission and requesting expedited review
- A PDF file of the entire previously submitted manuscript uploaded as "Supplemental Material NOT for Publication"
- A "Response to Reviewers" file containing the previous decision letter(s), all previous reviews, any manuscript correspondence, and your point-by-point response to the reviews, including page and line numbers where changes have been made
- A tracked-changes file showing the revisions made, uploaded as a "Marked Up Manuscript" file
Authors must recommend two Senior Editors and two Editors from the mSphere Board of Editors. In many cases, manuscripts considered for expedited review may be accepted for publication within 10 days, depending on any additional minor revisions that might be requested by the editors.
Notification of Acceptance
When an editor has decided that a manuscript is acceptable for publication on the basis of scientific merit, the author and the Journals Department are notified. The text files undergo an automated preediting, cleanup, and tagging process specific to the particular article type, and the illustrations are examined. If all files have been prepared according to the criteria set forth in these Instructions and those in the manuscript submission system, the acceptance procedure will be completed successfully. If there are problems that would cause extensive corrections to be made at the copyediting stage or if the files are not acceptable for production, ASM Journals staff will contact the corresponding author. Once all the material intended for publication has been determined to be adequate, the editorial staff of the ASM Journals Department completes the editing of the manuscript to bring it into conformity with prescribed standards.
mSphere Publication Schedule
mSphere articles are released in an article-based workflow. Articles are not held until an issue is released. The articles published over the preceding weeks are collected into a bimonthly issue and moved into the mSphere archive.
Page proofs, together with a query sheet and instructions for handling proofs, will be made available to the corresponding author electronically. Queries must be answered on the query page, and any changes related to the queries, as well as any additional changes, must be indicated on the proofs. Note that the copy editor does not query at every instance where a change has been made. Queries are written only to request necessary information or clarification of an unclear passage or to draw attention to edits that may have altered the sense. It is the author’s responsibility to read the entire text, tables, and figure legends, not just items queried. Corrected proofs must be returned within two business days after notification of availability.
The proof stage is not the time to make extensive corrections, additions, or deletions. Figures as they appear in the proofs are for validation of content and placement, not quality of reproduction or color accuracy. Print output of figures in the PDF page proofs will be of lower quality than the same figures viewed on a monitor. Please avoid making changes to figures based on quality of color or reproduction in proof.
Important new information that has become available between acceptance of the manuscript and receipt of the proofs may be inserted as an addendum in proof with the approval of the editor. If references to unpublished data or personal communications are added, it is expected that written assurance granting permission for the citation will be included. Limit changes to correction of spelling errors, incorrect data, and grammatical errors and updated information for references to manuscripts that have been submitted or are in press. If URLs have been provided in the article, recheck the sites to ensure that the addresses are still accurate and the material that you expect the reader to find is indeed there.
Questions about proofs should be directed to the ASM Journals Department (e-mail, email@example.com).
Funding Agency Repositories
ASM allows mSphere authors whose work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other funding agencies that have public access requirements (e.g., the Wellcome Trust) to post their accepted manuscripts in publicly accessible electronic repositories maintained by those funding agencies. If a funding agency does not itself maintain such a site, then ASM allows the author to fulfill that requirement by depositing the article in an appropriate institutional or subject-based open repository established by a government or noncommercial entity. ASM requests that when submitting an accepted manuscript to PMC or a similar public access site, the author specify that the posting release date for the manuscript be no earlier than the date of publication on the mSphere website.