Instructions for reviewers – General instructions

(Modified from review criteria for Ecological Applications)

Quality peer reviews are essential for insuring the quality of scholarly journals. Your evaluation will play a major role in our decision as to whether to accept a manuscript for publication. We place a great deal of trust in you. We trust you to be prompt, fair, respectful of the rights of the authors, respectful of our obligations to the readership, and to evaluate the manuscript carefully and in depth.

Mechanics
The reviews are intended to be anonymous.  Please attach one, anonymous copy of the review, rating form, and any comments to the paper for distribution to the paper’s author. Please submit a second, signed review and rating form to Dr. Haddad for final evaluation of the paper.

Confidentiality
This manuscript is a privileged communication. Please do not show it to anyone or discuss it, except to solicit assistance with a technical point. If you feel a colleague is more qualified than you to review the paper, do not pass the manuscript on to that person without first requesting permission to do so. Your review and your recommendation should also be considered confidential.

Comments to be returned to the Author
Identify the major contributions of the paper. What are the major strengths and weaknesses of the paper, and how suitable is it for publication? Please include both general and specific comments bearing on these questions, and emphasize your most significant points.

General Comments should address the following:

•    Importance and interest to this journal's readers
•    Scientific soundness
•    Originality
•    Degree to which conclusions are supported
•    Organization and clarity
•    Cohesiveness of argument
•    Length relative to information content
•    Conciseness and writing style
•    Appropriateness for the targeted journal

Specific Comments:
Support your general comments, positive or negative, with specific evidence. Remember that a review lacking substance will generally have less impact than a review that is well-reasoned and rich in content. You may write directly on the manuscript.  Comment on any of the following matters that significantly affected your judgment of the paper:

1. Presentation-- Does the paper tell a cohesive story? Is a tightly reasoned argument evident throughout the paper? Where does the paper wander from this argument? Do the title, abstract, key words, introduction, and conclusions accurately and consistently reflect the major point(s) of the paper? Is the writing concise, easy to follow, interesting?
           
2. Length-- What portions of the paper should be expanded(?), condensed(?), combined(?), and deleted?
           
3. Methods-- Are they appropriate(?), current(?), and described clearly enough(?) that the work could be repeated by someone else?
           
4. Data presentation-- When results are stated in the text of the paper, can you easily verify them by examining tables and figures? Are any of the results counterintuitive? Are all tables and figures necessary(?), clearly labeled(?), well planned(?), and readily interpretable?
           
5. Errors-- Point out any errors in technique, fact, calculation, interpretation, or style. (For style we follow the "CBE Style Manual, Fifth Edition," and the ASTM Standard E380- 93, "Standard Practice for Use of the International System of Units." - An abbreviated version may be downloaded from the ASTM website.)
           
6. Citations-- Are all (and only) pertinent references cited? Are they provided for all assertions of fact not supported by the data in this paper?
           
7. Overlap-- Does this paper report data or conclusions already published or in press? If so, please provide details.

Fairness and objectivity
If the research reported in this paper is flawed, criticize the science, not the scientist. Harsh words in a review will cause the reader to doubt your objectivity; as a result, your criticisms will be rejected, even if they are correct! Comments directed to the author should convince the author that (1) you have read the entire paper carefully, (2) your criticisms are objective and correct, are not merely differences of opinion, and are intended to help the author improve his or her paper, and (3) you are qualified to provide an expert opinion about the research reported in this paper. If you fail to win the author's respect and appreciation, much of your effort will have been wasted.

Rating of Manuscript

Low      High

1   2  3  4  How original is this paper?
1   2  3  4  Importance of the ideas*
1   2  3  4  Potential for stimulating new research
1   2  3  4  Likelihood that the ideas* can be tested
1   2  3  4  Appropriateness for specified journal
1   2  3  4  Clarity of presentation
1   2  3  4  Ratio of new idea* content to length

* "ideas" includes concepts, theories, hypotheses, conjecture, speculation, predictions, models, syntheses, and criticisms of established concepts