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      Message from the Editor-in-Chief

      editorial
      Life
      MDPI

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          Abstract

          One year after I assumed the position of Editor in Chief of Life, it is my great pleasure to write this editorial highlighting our achievements during this period, which were so many! As I wrote in the first editorial, my commitment was to make the journal a success, with the launch of exciting special issues, publication of high quality papers as well as inclusion of the journal in major indexing and abstracting services [1]. Basically, throughout 2014, all these commitments have been accomplished. Several eminent team leaders have joined our editorial board [2], timely special issues have been launched [3], and the journal already was indexed in PubMed [4]; now, it is just a matter of time to be indexed in Web of Science. The feedback from the scientific community already has been quite positive. With timely special issues lined up for 2015, the journal is developing quite fast. In my inaugural editorial as Editor in Chief, I highlighted that Life would provide a forum for the publication of new hypotheses aiming to encourage discussion and creative hypothesis testing by members of the scientific community. Now, the journal has a specific section dedicated to this important theme, i.e., Hypotheses in the Life Sciences [5]. In collaboration with MDPI, I have implemented a new system of open peer review in order to demonstrate the rigorous, fair and efficient standard of our editorial work [6]. The first paper published under this new policy was a manuscript written by a Nobelist and reviewed by three experts in the field [7]. I am pleased to demonstrate that papers from authors of such high standing undergo the same rigorous process as any other. For 2015, I am also preparing some new interesting features, such as publishing the feedback from the authors who have published in our journal. This transparency is very important because there is little information in the literature about the quality of the peer review process and the time it takes. So far, this kind of information, which is usually hidden by the journals, passes between colleagues; you might hear that some journals are particularly slow in processing, whereas others are known for their effectiveness. However, when you try to find something more concrete on the matter, the information is rather fragmented and incomprehensive. In order to provide systematic and clear information to the scientific community, I am working to make the editorial work in Life more transparent by sharing the author’s testimonials about the entire editorial process, its quality, and the time it has taken. This will highlight the quality of our work by the words of those who have worked closely with us. At a time when the review process in scientific journals can take several months, and an additional several months until the paper is officially published, a platform for fast, efficient and cost-effective publication without undue delay or expense is essential for any scientific research. By the achievements pointed out in this editorial, which covers only one year (!), you may have an idea of how committed we are in providing a high quality journal to the scientific community, with all the advantages of an open access platform. I truly believe that the open access movement provides the setting to radically reform scientific publishing, and I am making every effort to accomplish that with Life. Hope you have the pleasure of working with us in the future. Your manuscript and feedback will be most welcome!

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          Most cited references7

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          Horizontal Gene Transfer among Bacteria and Its Role in Biological Evolution

          This is a contribution to the history of scientific advance in the past 70 years concerning the identification of genetic information, its molecular structure, the identification of its functions and the molecular mechanisms of its evolution. Particular attention is thereby given to horizontal gene transfer among microorganisms, as well as to biosafety considerations with regard to beneficial applications of acquired scientific knowledge.
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            Opening up Peer Review in Life: Towards a Transparent and Reliable Process

            Peer review is one of the oldest and most respected instruments of quality control in science and it is at the heart of academic publishing. However, while publishing has evolved and adapted to the digital era, peer review remains stuck in its traditional format. The traditional model of peer review relies on undisclosed reviews in which the whole process remains hidden from the scientific community. Despite its importance, the current system lacks sufficient quality and transparency, and has been repeatedly criticized as prone to bias or even fraud. In addition, the traditional peer review process opposes the desired open collaboration for the benefit of science and society. In view of the fundamental role of peer review in the publication of research and the growth of scientific knowledge, it is essential to develop innovative ways to improve the process. Changes to the system are necessary and the open access movement provides a context to radically reform scientific publishing. During the last decade, open access journals have altered the scientific publishing landscape, making it cheaper and easier for researchers to access published articles. Nowadays, it is high quality open access journals that are leading the development of new approaches to peer review. As an advocate of transparency in the peer review process, during the last months I have been working with MDPI to implant a new system of open peer review, under which the peer-review reports and authors’ responses are published as an integral part of the final version of each article. This new model of publishing associated with the open access platform of MDPI result in one of the most transparent, unbiased, democratic and reliable assessment of research currently available. The move towards an open peer-review policy gives credit where it is due, but moreover provides valuable information to those reading the article, sharing the reviewers’ critiques of the manuscript and presenting all the necessary information for them to make an objective evaluation for themselves. Furthermore, the available information also benefits young students and scientists who can learn about the reviewing process of a manuscript, which will in turn help them to prepare high quality papers. Open review is an established part of the evaluation process for some prominent open access journals such as the BMC-series medical journals, EMBO journals and eLife. Now, Life is the first MDPI journal to make this courageous step towards open peer-review in order to demonstrate the rigorous, fair and efficient standard of the editorial work. The first paper published under this new policy was a manuscript written by a Nobelist and reviewed by three experts in the field (available at [1]). This transparent process will help to eradicate potential flaws associated with the traditional peer review route. As a result of this unique system, all reviewers will get their due recognition and respect once their names are published with the papers. If reviewers do not want to reveal their identities, we will honour that request and the reviewer’s report will be published “anonymously”. In an initial test phase, authors submitting manuscripts to Life will therefore have the choice (after acceptance of their paper) to publish the reviewers’ comments and their responses along with the article. To protect the impartiality of the peer-review process, the identity of the reviewers will not be revealed to the authors until after a paper is accepted for publication. As highlighted in my previous editorial [2], this is an exciting moment for Life and I invite you to submit your manuscript and enjoy a pleasant experience while working with our editorial staff.
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              Letter from the New Editor-in-Chief

              It is my great pleasure to serve as the new Editor-in-Chief of Life, a journal concerned with fundamental questions on the origins and nature of life, evolution of biosystems and astrobiology. With my experience as Executive Editor, Senior Editor and Guest Editor of so many successful special issues (some of them in MDPI journals [1,2,3,4,5,6]), I am committed to making the journal a success, with the launch of exciting special issues, publication of high quality papers, as well as inclusion of the journal in major indexing and abstracting services. I see Life as an exciting interdisciplinary open access journal that will grow to become a valuable, widely read and widely cited part of the scientific literature. The journal has the potential to be internationally recognized for its quality and the scientific influence of its contributions, achieving high reputation among the scientific community in the coming future. My vision for the direction and progress of this journal is that it should cover not only the classical themes, but also other frontier research topics. This journal will foster fruitful crosstalk between the various traditional and novel disciplines of life sciences and related fields of research, including physical and chemical aspects that may help us to better understand the origins of life and evolution of biosystems. As an enthusiast on theoretical and philosophical studies involving life sciences, I would like very much to have more papers in these fields of knowledge published in Life. In addition to experimental studies, Life provides a forum for the publication of new hypotheses aiming to encourage discussion and creative hypothesis testing by members of the scientific community. The predictions of the hypothesis must be amenable to further observation and experimentation that could tend to confirm or refute the hypothesis. An excellent example in this matter is the classical work published by Watson and Crick in 1953, where they used data published by other scientists to speculate on a new structural model for the DNA molecule [7]. Considering the current state of the reviewing process of most journals, if they had submitted their proposal today, the paper would be rejected or reconsidered after major revision and they would be advised to include some new experimental data to support their model. Nevertheless, at that time, the paper was quickly published and was indeed validated by future experiments. Today, that paper is considered one of the main landmarks in science, giving birth to molecular biology. Suddenly, a paradigm was created that gave the study of heritable traits a physical, molecular basis and made the theories of Mendel, Morgan and even Darwin, tangible. Instead of trying to predict if a theoretical study will be proven right or wrong or trying to predict the future impact of an experimental study, our focus on reviewing papers for consideration and possible publication will be on determining if the work is scientifically well written and presents coherent arguments. In 1974, Francis Crick, reflecting on the impact of the publication of his work on the structure of DNA that won him the Nobel Prize, suggested that it would be for historians to decide the impact of his work [8]. A high quality study, even when further proved to be incomplete or mistaken, may play a relevant role in the scientific process, by allowing others to test the ideas and build on new experiments/hypotheses that will help us to better understand some particular aspect of nature. An excellent example comes from another landmark paper also published in 1953. The classic experiment of Stanley Miller was the first experimental evidence that the hypothesis of Oparin-Haldane (which postulates that the first living systems in our planet are the result of a long chemical evolution) could be correct. In the experiment, Miller demonstrated in laboratory, the formation of organic compounds of biological interest in conditions similar to the primitive atmosphere [9]. Today, the experiment of Miller is not anymore considered representative of the chemical processes that occurred on Earth billions of years ago because his model of primitive atmosphere does not fit with the current model. However, with such a pioneering experiment, Miller began the development of the experimental research on chemical evolution and the origins of life. For this achievement, Miller is considered the founder of what is now known as prebiotic chemistry, the exciting field of research that investigates the chemical reactions that lead or could have led to the emergence of life on our planet or elsewhere in the Universe. For these reasons, a new journal such as Life, with an open-minded perspective capable of dealing with genuinely innovative science, is necessary because recent advances in different fields of life sciences is fundamentally changing how we think about the origins and evolution of organisms. Scientists need a high quality journal where these cutting edge experimental and theoretical studies can be quickly published and divulgated to the scientific community. Furthermore, the whole field of life sciences is expanding quite fast and the result is that good quality journals are receiving increasing numbers of submissions, resulting in slow processing times for reviewing and publication. In addition, many perfectly sound papers are rejected because they do not fit within the limited scope of a journal or due to the limited number of papers published in a printed journal. At a time when publication in major journals can take several months after a paper is accepted and can cost a significant portion of a laboratory’s research budget, the open-access format of Life provides a platform for fast and cost-effective publication without undue delay or expense. All submitted manuscripts undergo rigorous peer review, but we ensure that this is done as fast as possible because we endeavor to provide an efficient reviewing process for the authors. Life is currently supported by an outstanding Editorial Board composed of eminent team leaders who cover the wide remit of the journal. In cooperation with the editorial board members and a dedicated editorial office, I will make every effort to continue the progress of Life in a manner that will satisfy our authors and readers. To promote the development of the journal, we are planning an ambitious series of special issues devoted to topics of particular interest and importance in life sciences and related disciplines. This is an exciting moment for Life and I welcome you to submit your manuscript and enjoy a pleasant experience while working with our editorial staff.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Life (Basel)
                Life (Basel)
                life
                Life
                MDPI
                2075-1729
                13 January 2015
                March 2015
                : 5
                : 1
                : 212-213
                Affiliations
                Center of Biotechnology and PPGBCM, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Bento Gonçalves Avenue, P.O. Box 15005, 91501-970, Porto Alegre—RS, Brazil; E-Mail: p.rampelotto@ 123456mail.ufsm.br
                Article
                life-05-00212
                10.3390/life5010212
                4390848
                25590571
                8b6f3a2f-1e7f-4853-9963-f87375f1c93c
                © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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