GUIDELINES FOR REVIEWERS
Ecology, Ecological Applications, Ecological Monographs
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. At the same time, on behalf of the ESA membership, we are very grateful for the time and effort you invest in the review process.
Please be aware that Ecology has moved to tighter, shorter articles than has been the case in the past. As we have made this transition, many articles have been rejected without review because they were too long to fit in the current look of the journal. The article you are reviewing may have been previously rejected because it was longer than 30 pages (including absolutely everything except that which is destined for the digital Ecological Archives), and has now been shortened in the resubmission.
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.
Conflicts of Interest
If you feel you might have difficulty writing an objective review, please return the paper immediately, unreviewed. If your previous or present connection with the author(s) or an author's institution might be construed as creating a conflict of interest, but no actual conflict exists, please discuss this issue in your confidential comments to the editor. If in doubt, feel free to contact the Subject-matter Editor who requested your review.
Comments for the Author
Identify the major contributions of the paper. What are its major strengths and weaknesses, and its suitability 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
• Degree to which conclusions are supported
• Organization and clarity
• Cohesiveness of argument
• Length relative to information content
• Whether material should be moved to the digital appendices
• Conciseness and writing style
• Appropriateness for the targeted journal and specific section of the journal
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 (or embed comments in a digital copy of the manuscript), but please summarize your remarks in "Comments for the Author(s)." 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? (Please don't advise an overall shortening by X%. Be specific!)
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. Statistical design and analyses -- Are they appropriate and correct? Can the reader readily discern which measurements or observations are independent of which other measurements or observations? Are replicates correctly identified? Are significance statements justified? For further advice, consult our Guidelines for Statistical Analysis and Data Presentation.
6. 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.)
7. Citations -- Are all (and only) pertinent references cited? Are they provided for all assertions of fact not supported by the data in this paper?
8. Overlap -- Does this paper report data or conclusions already published or in press? If so, please provide details.
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.
You may sign your review if you wish. If you choose to remain anonymous, avoid comments to the authors that might serve as clues to your identity, and be careful about annotating the manuscript (see below). Unless you indicate otherwise (such as by signing your remarks for the authors), we will assume you wish to remain anonymous.
IF YOU WISH TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS and want to make comments directly on the pdf with the Note tool, you will need to be sure you remove your identity from the properties BEFORE adding your comments.
IF YOU WISH TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS and use track changes in Word, you must first (before putting in the comments!) remove your identity by going to the Tools/Options/User Information. (In Word 2007 go to Review/Track Changes/Change User Name.) You can restore it after saving and sending the document. (This is not necessary if you tell us that you choose to waive your anonymity.)