This guide is mostly about the principles for reviewers to use when called upon to assist us in maintaining high scientific standards for the EJSSM. We will include some technical information, but our primary emphasis is to help our reviewers to understand how to approach reviews for EJSSM.
A distinguishing feature of the EJSSM is that the reviews and author responses to those reviews will become part of the public archive associated with the article. Reviews will not be anonymous. The goal is to help the readers of the EJSSM to see and understand the issues that concern the reviewers and to use the dialog between author(s)(hereafter, referred to in the singular)and reviewer as a basis for making a personal decision about those issues. It is our belief that a journal is medium for scientific communication, and part of communication of scientific ideas is the open acceptance of the possibility for reasonable disputes about various aspects of the work.
In the interest of keeping the content as concise as possible, our Editors will not include as part of the public record comments/responses of a trivial nature, such as the insertion of commas or typographical errors (the so-called technical comments, see Part II, section 5), but they should still be included within any private review and response between the author and reviewer. Grammatical issues may or may not become part of the public record, at the discretion of the Editor.
The decision about publication is entirely the Editor’s responsibility. In most cases, the Editor will follow the will of the majority of the reviewers, but in some cases, that might not happen. In such cases, the Editor will be expected to provide substantive reasons for not accepting the recommendations of the majority of reviewers.
First and foremost, the goal of the review process is to improve the scientific quality of the submission. Reviewers will work with the author through a collaborative process to ensure scientific integrity. Constructive criticism is a necessary part of this collaborative effort and as such shall be offered and received in a professional manner. Authors and reviewers are reminded that both reviews and responses will become part of the open-access public record associated with each manuscript.
The Editor’s role includes that of being a moderator, in a literal way, of the discourse between reviewers and authors, and will enforce ethical standards of behavior in the review and response process.
Reviewers are expected to return their reviews within three weeks, unless otherwise specified by the Editor. The author may request an extension from the Editor, if needed.
There are two basic components to the review of a scientific manuscript: (1) Scientific content, and (2) Quality of the presentation. Either or both of these can be grounds for rejection of the submission and both should be considered within the review.
A. Scientific content
Although there can be no simple formula for what is acceptable scientific content, there are some basic principles that generally apply. The standards for a manuscript depend somewhat on the category of submission, but there are some general guidelines.
References in support of an assertion. Generally, references are used to provide support for assertions within a paper. There is no simple way to determine what assertions do or do not require substantiation. It is within the purview of a reviewer to request references if the reviewer believes a reference is needed where none was provided. The use of "principal source" references (e.g., the original source of information) is encouraged whenever possible. Generally, refereed publications are more acceptable for this purpose than unrefereed material. Thus, if the author uses an unrefereed reference, this may not be considered acceptable support. The availability of unrefereed manuscripts is a major issue with their use in support of an assertion within the manuscript, and the author can be asked to provide a copy of such to the reviewer.
Speculation. For the most part, speculation in a scientific manuscript is not acceptable. Speculation is defined as an unsubstantiated assertion or hypothesis. Very limited speculation is possible but it should be confined to the end of a manuscript, within a "discussion" of the paper’s content or areas of future research, and it should be identified clearly as speculation.
Significance of results. Whenever possible, authors are expected to analyze the statistical significance of their calculations. The use of statistical analysis to assess the confidence that can be placed on a calculation based on real data is essential to any scientific paper. Generally, failure to provide statistical analysis of results is not acceptable. Sample size is an important aspect of statistical confidence limits and small samples need to be identified as such. Verification of forecasting schemes should be as extensive as possible and any limitations to the credibility of a verification analysis, such as failing to consider false alarms, or correct predictions of nonevents, need to be identified.
Reproducibility. It should be possible for anyone reading the manuscript to reproduce the results. The manuscript, therefore, should provide any and all information necessary for a reader to repeat any analysis contained therein. Any withholding of needed information is unacceptable. However, it is acceptable to use references to accomplish this. To the maximum extent possible consistent with a concise presentation, a manuscript should be self-contained. Extensive mathematical derivations can be moved to an Appendix. Large datasets and detailed software information need not be provided, although it is encouraged to make software and data available whenever possible, perhaps by the World Wide Web or in an unrefereed technical paper.
Proof. Reviewers should recognize that in a formal sense, "proof" of scientific ideas is never possible. Proof is feasible in pure mathematics, but it not possible in science that uses experimental data or observations in support of ideas. Thus, it is not appropriate for a reviewer to ask for proof, unless it refers to mathematical issues. Rather, it is appropriate to review how convincing the supporting analysis is in terms of accepting some hypothesis. The rigor of the test is the primary means of judging how convincing the evidence is. Data sample size, accuracy and precision of the data, and the degree to which the data permit an unambiguous interpretation all are part of a convincing argument. Thus, these are all fair issues for a reviewer to consider when reviewing the scientific content. Of course, for mathematical content, the logic must follow the appropriate rules without error, including such issues as the existence and uniqueness of solutions.
Relevance. The only issue of the relevance of a paper that is appropriate for a reviewer to consider is whether or not the content of the presentation fit within the guidelines of what is acceptable content for the EJSSM. Otherwise, it is not up to the reviewer to assess the relevance of a manuscript for publication in EJSSM.
Originality. It is our belief that papers reproducing already published work may or may not be acceptable. If the manuscript simply reproduces the results of an already published work with no change and adds nothing else, this is probably not acceptable. In some cases, it is valuable to the community if a particular piece of work can be confirmed (see item d). In particular, if the analysis methods of an already published work are reproduced, but with a different set of data, or an expanded data set, this is quite likely to be acceptable.
Comparisons with existing work. To the maximum extent possible, comparisons within a manuscript with already published work should be as unambiguous as possible. If a comparison with previous work is made, the same definitions should be used, as well as the same data. If it is felt that the definitions and/or data of an existing work have problems, then a comparison with that existing work should be done both with the original definitions and/or data, as well as with the changed definitions and/or data.
Negative results. The EJSSM Editorial Board has determined that papers reporting negative results may or may not be acceptable for publication. Based on the reviews, the Editor decides whether to accept any manuscript reporting negative results for an experiment or analysis. We believe that negative results can be useful to the scientific community.
B. Quality of presentation
Again, there is no simple formula to follow for a successful presentation. The Editorial Board is quite agreeable to accepting a variety of stylistic choices, permitting authors to express themselves in their own unique way. The EJSSM will generally follow the American Meteorological Society’s guidelines for basic style issues, since those formats are familiar to most of our authors, but the EJSSM will allow extra flexibility, including allowing the use of first person within the text, references within an abstract, etc. Reviewers can find the American Meteorological Society’s Author’s Guide online at . Here are some basic recommendations for authors to follow and reviewers to consider.
Quality of figures. Figures should be legible as well as easy to read and understand. Generally, figures provide supporting documentation and illustrate some important point within the paper. Thus, reviewers should pay close attention to the figures and offer specific suggestions for changing them, if need be, to help the authors improve the presentation.
Quality of the English. For nonnative English speakers, and perhaps even for some native English speakers, the grammar, spelling, usage, and punctuation of the text are very important for an effective presentation. EJSSM Editor(s) will not put a paper into review if the English presentation is inadequate. Furthermore, if the reviewer feels the paper is not readable, the reviewer may reject such a paper on those grounds alone.
Organization. The quality of presentation includes the issue of how the paper is organized. To some extent, the organization of the content is a style issue and the author should be allowed to do whatever s/he wishes, provided the resulting content can be followed reasonably easily. However, it is appropriate for a reviewer to make recommendations for reorganizing a paper’s content in an effort to improve the presentation. Again, there is no magic formula for a proper organization, but this is fair game for a reviewer.
Completeness. An important issue is whether or not everything that needs to be in the manuscript is actually there. Of particular significance is that all the literature citations should be included in the reference list, and all the items in the reference list should actually be cited somewhere in the text. All figures and tables should have captions that describe their content sufficiently well that interpretation of their content is straightforward. Equations in the text need not all be numbered, but all equations cited in the text should have numbers.
C. Manuscript length
Although electronic publishing is inherently less concerned with space limitations than printed journals, the Editorial Board wishes to keep manuscripts within some bounds. Hence, any manuscript that exceeds 32 pages in length (title page, abstract, text of manuscript, and acknowledgments), double-spaced and using 12-point font, will need to receive special permission from the Editor. Thus, it is in the author’s interest to avoid deadwood in the text, such as extensive description of the figures, using figures of dubious relevance to the material, or repeating the content of figure captions in the text, which are common problems with submitted manuscripts. Reviewers should be prepared to offer specific suggestions for shortening long manuscripts.
When reviewers offer suggestions, it is common to ask for more supporting evidence and additional analysis. Please keep in mind that when the paper is at or near the length limit, asking for more material will put the author in the position of having to remove other content to stay within the length limit. Please be considerate of the author when asking for additional material and offer suggestions where the manuscript can be trimmed to make room for the requested content.
D. Unreviewed content
Sometimes, reviewers choose to not review some parts of the content, for any of a number of reasons. If, for any reason, a review does not consider some part of the manuscript’s content, that should be specifically noted by the reviewer. Examples might include the details of a mathematical derivation, or some aspect of the paper upon which the reviewer is not qualified to comment. There can be many good reasons for this, but it is important for the reviewer to inform the Editor about any such omission.
In addition to making a recommendation, reviewers are expected to provide detailed comments to the author, describing any shortcomings and recommending changes that would address those shortcomings. In general, there are two types of comments: substantive and technical, 3. Responding to Reviewer Comments in the Author Guidelines. To assist the Editor in posting the review and responses by the author as part of an accepted paper, it is the reviewer’s responsibility to divide the review content into separate sections for substantive and technical comments.
Every review will include a recommendation to the Editor. This recommendation will be one of the following:
- The paper is accepted in its present form.
- The paper is acceptable with minor revisions and no further review is requested unless major changes are made in accordance with other reviews (at the discretion of the Editor).
The paper may be acceptable with minor revisions, but send the revised manuscript back for further review.
- The paper may be acceptable with major revisions. Further review of the manuscript by the reviewer is automatic, unless the reviewer requests otherwise.
- The paper is rejected. Further review of the manuscript by the reviewer is possible if the Editor decides against the reviewer’s rejection recommendation, unless the reviewer requests otherwise.
- The paper should be rejected. Further review of the manuscript by the reviewer is possible if the Editor decides against the reviewer’s rejection recommendation, unless the reviewer requests otherwise.
Given that the first option is unlikely following an initial submission, reviewers probably will see the manuscript at least twice, unless they specifically request otherwise.
If a reviewer has a problem with the way an Editor has responded to his/her recommendations, the reviewer can submit a complaint to the Editorial Board for review by following the conflict resolution procedures provided below. The Board will review all such disputes and render a decision as soon as possible after receiving them. Decisions of the Board are final.
Reviewers perform a valuable service to the EJSSM and the Editorial Board wishes to maintain a good relationship between the journal and the volunteers who donate their efforts on behalf of the science of severe storms meteorology. Therefore, we have established a procedure to resolve conflicts that might arise during the review process. If for any reason, a reviewer has a problem and feels that it cannot be resolved this by working with the Editor, we urge that reviewer to inform the Board of the problem. Such notification should be done by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Problems will be discussed by the Editorial Board, and a decision rendered by majority vote among the Board members. All such Board decisions are final. There is no further appeal procedure. Depending on the circumstances, the decision can include: dismissal of the Editor in the case of major ethical violations, overriding the Editor’s actions, admonition of the Editor for a minor problem, or sustaining the Editor’s actions. All complaints will be considered, and the person lodging a complaint will be informed of the Editorial Board’s decision as soon as possible.