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About JCB

Aims and scope

Journal of Cell Biology (JCB) is a broad journal that publishes original findings on all aspects of cell biology. We consider papers reporting new cellular or molecular advances in any areas of basic cell biology as well as papers that describe applied cell biology in a variety of systems including, but not limited to, immunology, neurobiology, metabolism, virology, developmental biology, and plant biology. We welcome all submissions that describe new findings of significant interest to cell biologists, regardless of the experimental approach.

If you are wondering whether your manuscript is appropriate for JCB, please feel free to contact the editorial office at and we will respond to your presubmission inquiry as quickly as possible.


To warrant publication in JCB, a manuscript must provide novel and significant insight into a cellular function or process. Insights may be significant because they are of great interest to a subset of cell biologists or because they offer an advance that is of intrinsic interest to a broad cell biological audience.

Manuscript types

Articles present a comprehensive analysis providing novel and significant mechanistic insight into an area of interest to our general readership. Articles are fully documented reports of original research that are as concise as possible without compromising the documentation of results. Articles should be no more than 40,000 characters (not including spaces, methods, or references), with up to 10 figures and/or tables. Articles may have up to five supplemental figures and references are unlimited.

Reports offer definitive observations of outstanding interest that have the potential to open up new avenues of research. Reports describe cutting-edge findings of immediate interest to a wide readership. Reports are no more than 20,000 characters (not including spaces, methods, or references), with up to five figures and/or tables. Reports may have up to three supplemental figures and references are unlimited.

Tools describe new methods or datasets (e.g., screens, systems-wide analyses, or computational modeling) of immediate value and broad utility to the cell biology community. Papers presenting methods should describe a technological advance of broad/general interest that permits the interrogation of cell biological problems in ways previously impossible and include novel cell biological insight as a proof of principle. For datasets, authors must provide a compelling proof of principle that analysis of the dataset yields novel cell biological insights. Tools are no more than 40,000 characters (not including spaces, methods, or references), with up to 10 figures and/or tables. Tools may have up to five supplemental figures and references are unlimited.


Front matter formats

Most front matter in JCB is commissioned by the editors. However, we do accept proposals for the following formats.

Reviews are peer-reviewed, comprehensive overviews on a topic of interest to the broad JCB readership. Reviews are usually 4,000–6,000 words in length and include three to four figures/tables. The number of references is unlimited.

Spotlights highlight primary research articles published in JCB or a recent issue of another journal. Most Spotlights are commissioned, but proposals will be considered. Spotlights are 800-1,000 words in length, with no more than 10 references and one figure/table.

Viewpoint articles put forth original models and hypotheses on cutting-edge cell biological research. This format is intended to stimulate discussion and/or the development of new research. These forward-looking articles should build on recent advances in a given field, and hypotheses should rest on published data. Viewpoints are 1,000 words in length, with no more than 10 references and one figure/table.

Editorial process

At JCB, all editorial decisions on research manuscripts are made through collaborative consultation between in-house professional scientific editors and the academic editorial board. The final decision lies with the academic editors. We strive to provide exceptional service by ensuring timely, objective, and rigorous decision making.

Upon submission, manuscripts are reviewed by at least one in-house scientific editor and one member of the editorial board for general suitability and strength of advance. An initial decision whether to peer review the paper is typically reached within three to four days.

If sent for full review, the manuscript is refereed by leading scientists active in the relevant field regardless of their membership on the JCB editorial board. All reviewers have the opportunity to see and comment on each other’s reports, ensuring that peer review is objective and balanced. Decisions after review are communicated jointly by the academic and professional editors.

Following review, we will encourage resubmission if revisions seem feasible within three to four months. We provide clear, detailed decisions that describe exactly what would be needed for publication in JCB. We will not reassess novelty when you resubmit your revision, even if related work has been published. We re-review manuscripts only when necessary. In many cases, an academic editor will make the final decision on a resubmission without further expert review. Our policy is to only allow a single round of major revision. When manuscripts submitted to JCB are accepted for publication, authors have the option to publish the editorial correspondence and reviewer reports. Referee anonymity will be maintained. Manuscripts transferred to JCB along with reviewer reports from another journal are not eligible for this feature.

If revisions will likely take longer than three to four months, we typically advise authors to submit elsewhere. However, authors are free to appeal and request the opportunity to resubmit to JCB at a later time.

Authors can appeal editorial decisions through the online manuscript submission system. They may also transfer their manuscript, reviewer comments, and reviewer identities to another journal through our transfer system (see our Transfer policy). Reviewers may opt out of having their identity transferred.

Editorial board

The JCB editorial board is comprised of over 100 leading scientists from across the breadth of cell biology. Editorial board members are responsible for making timely, thoughtful, and objective editorial decisions on manuscripts in their research area. Editorial board members are renewed every two years. All editorial board members are added and renewed by the Executive Editor and Editor-in-Chief.

In addition to the editorial board, JCB has a team of 10 academic editors who, in addition to making editorial decisions, also contribute to discussions regarding editorial policy and editorial board appointments. These editors are identified on the journal masthead and website. They serve three-year terms. Editors are added and renewed by the Executive Editor and Editor-in-Chief.

The JCB Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor are appointed by the Executive Director of The Rockefeller University Press.

Reviewer guidelines

Reviewers are to contact the editor to discuss any potential conflicts of interest prior to accepting an invitation to peer review a manuscript. Reviewers are asked to comment on the level of conceptual advance and broad interest, as well as the technical rigor, statistical analysis, and presentation of the manuscript. We ask that reviewers provide references where possible when describing overlap between the current manuscript under consideration and past work done in the field, particularly when such overlap is suggested to undermine the novelty of the work under consideration. Reviewers will have the opportunity to see each other’s comments, and modify their own comments in response, before a decision is made on a manuscript.

Reviewers are expected to provide critical yet respectful comments for authors. Reviewers are to treat information from an unpublished manuscript as confidential at all times. If a reviewer needs advice from a colleague or collaborator while peer reviewing a manuscript, they should contact the editor in advance. Co-reviewing manuscripts with trainees (graduate students and postdocs) is allowed. However, this is to be indicated in the confidential comments to the editor, and we expect that the senior reviewer has independently evaluated the manuscript and approved the final comments.

We feel consistency in peer review is important; therefore, we request that reviewers commit to reviewing future versions of the manuscript if needed.

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