Reviewer Guidelines for BAMS

Instructions for Submitting Reviews


Guidelines for Reviewing Regular BAMS Content:

Guidelines for Reviewing Special BAMS Supplements:

Thank you for agreeing to review a manuscript for the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). Your recommendations are essential to maintaining the quality of BAMS and are important feedback for the author(s). As outlined below, reviews for BAMS should cover considerations beyond those typical of other AMS journals.

Instructions for submitting reviews

In your review, please furnish both specific and general criticisms and suggestions that might be helpful to the handling editor and author (in revising their manuscript). Our policy is to withhold a reviewer's identity from the author unless the reviewer explicitly requests identification.

All reviews should be submitted through the BAMS Editorial Manager. There you will find spaces for confidential comments to the editor, comments for the author, and specific questions to be completed. You will also have the option to upload attachments (your formal review, or an annotated manuscript, for example).

When accessing the manuscript, please be sure to open and review the most recent version. (Most BAMS submissions have a Proposal as the "Original" submission, then a full manuscript will be "Revision 1". In some cases a manuscript may be revised before peer review to address small errors.) If the manuscript has Supplemental Material for online-only publication, you can download it via a link embedded on the page immediately following the full manuscript in the reviewer PDF. Please include an evaluation of any Supplemental Material in your review.

Guidelines for reviewing regular BAMS content

BAMS aims to be useful to the broad membership of the AMS. As the official organ of the Society, the BAMS is the Society’s scientific and technical news medium. It publishes articles reviewing scientific progress and history; state-of-the-art surveys; correspondence and reports on research needs, programs, and projects; and notes on interesting weather phenomena. The Society's other journals are its scientific media for original research papers.

Please take the above distinctions into account when you make your recommendations regarding the manuscript. If you feel strongly that, despite the initial screening by the Chair of the Editorial Board and Subject Matter Editor the manuscript is better suited to another AMS journal, you can recommend transfer of the paper to the appropriate journal.

As always, your review should begin with your overall recommendation: Accept as is, accept with Minor Revisions (no need to see the revised manuscript), reconsider after Major Revisions (need to see the revised manuscript), Reject, or Transfer (please specify the appropriate journal if possible).

In your review, you are asked to make an evaluation and provide recommendations to

1) ensure the scientific quality of the manuscript, including figures, and
2) enhance the readability and interest of the article to nonspecialists.

Articles should be accessible to as many AMS members as possible. Articles should be

  • clear and concise—as short as possible—in particular in the main text;
  • accessible to undergraduate science students (sophomore/junior level), at a minimum; and
  • interesting and relevant to readers in all of our particular sciences (hydrology, oceanography, and atmospheric sciences) and if possible to educated and influential readers beyond these fields and the sciences.

If you have any questions about BAMS goals and style, check the "Writing for BAMS" guidance


Full-length Articles

  • The main text (not counting abstract and reference) of BAMS Article submissions should average around 4,500 words (about 15 double-spaced manuscript pages). Overall, 7,500 words is a maximum for rare and strongly justified cases.
  • The main text should be the most broadly readable portion of the article. Authors should use appendixes, footnotes, and sidebars to help control the length and technical sophistication of the main text. Sidebars are limited to about 500 words.
  • Online appendixes are encouraged to help shorten printed portions of articles to a readable length. All parts of the article will be archived online together and are peer reviewed. If a manuscript has Supplemental Material, reviewers can access it via a link embedded in the pdf file, on the first page immediately following the manuscript.
  • We encourage active voice in writing; first person where necessary; relatively short paragraphs are helpful.

In Box Articles
In Box articles inform and analyze in a brief, informal mode. The “In” refers to “innovative” and “insight,” not just “informative” and “informal.” In Box articles are limited to roughly 2,500 words.

In Box submissions use citations sparingly. The citations are not the linked citation–reference system used by AMS journals and full-length Articles in BAMS; the references are replaced by a brief bibliographical listing called “For Further Reading.” If the author has submitted References in Article format, these will be changed at revision or acceptance.

Nowcast articles cover developments in the atmospheric and related sciences and services. Nowcast articles are notable for their simplicity, urgency, or importance, and should promote ideas and good work by being informative.

Nowcast submissions use citations sparingly. The citations are not the linked citation–reference system used by AMS journals and full-length Articles in BAMS; the references are replaced by a brief bibliographical listing called “For Further Reading.” If the author has submitted References in Article format, these will be changed at revision or acceptance.

Map Room
Map Room features interesting forecast situations in relatively straightforward language. The discussion is akin to a “map room” briefing with good visual documentation, with discussion of models where necessary, but with emphasis primarily on concepts: lessons learned or applications of science to everyday or unusual weather scenarios. The articles are usually less than 2,000 words.

Map Room type submissions use citations sparingly. The citations are not the linked citation–reference system used by AMS journals and full-length Articles in BAMS; the references are replaced by a brief bibliographical listing called “For Further Reading.” If the author has submitted References in Article format, these will be changed at revision or acceptance.


Essays are based on experience, opinion, and qualitative or quantitative analysis. These peer-reviewed contributions are designated within the Articles section as a “Forum” selection. They should be less than 5,000 words and average about 3,500 words.

Essays in BAMS are often opinionated and personal. They are signed and therefore do not necessarily reflect the official stances of the AMS, other institutions, or prevailing opinion. These articles are designated in print by the heading “Forum” on the title page.

You need not be concerned if the opinions are unusual or provocative or speculative. In fact, this is often desirable. You should comment on the opinions expressed in these essays—even to offer opposing opinions. You are not, however, free to demand changes to an author’s opinion or topic simply because you disagree or have better ideas. (We’d much rather you write an essay of your own in response.) We do ask that in addition you focus on accuracy, style, length, suitability, and other quality issues:

Accuracy. BAMS represents the community of meteorologists, hydrologists, oceanographers, and related scientists as a whole. Its quality implies the quality of work and thinking in the field. For this reason, peer review remains essential in several ways. Most importantly, any statement about scientific understanding or operational procedure should reflect the current state of the field. We are relying on reviewers to safeguard the quality of BAMS by making sure that what is published is scientifically accurate.

Style. General statements about scientific understanding may be necessary in this relatively nontechnical format, but reviewers are expected to point out where generalization strays into inaccuracy. They are also expected to point out where controversial ideas are errantly presented as wholly accepted or intuitive. We shouldn’t shy away from demanding honesty from our writers. Since essays are argumentative by nature, it is important that you make sure that the argumentation is logical and fair. In other words, we ask you to represent knowledgeable readers to safeguard not only BAMS but also, in a way, the reputations of the authors themselves. We encourage reviewers to rein in speculation that seems unlikely or ill-founded. The article should be interesting and intelligent. It should also be very clear, even to non specialists and (if at all possible) to second-year undergraduates in science.

Length. Suggest ways to make the article concise. “Forum” essays should be shorter than technical articles—less than 5,000 words and averaging about 3,500 words (not counting references, figures, or abstract). Exceptions should be justifiable.

Citations. Essays will not reference relevant literature as completely as technical articles. It is understood that authors are building on the work of others, and essay style is designed to present reasoning clearly, without diversions. Still, we encourage you to point out where a reader might benefit from a reference. Even more importantly, we expect the reviewer to warn the author where an opinion or fact or hypothesis has improper or insufficient attribution. For instance, if the author cites an obscure finding or unusual study, it would help readers to have a reference. If the author cites a relatively well-known result or intuitive concept, a reference is probably unnecessary. It should be sufficient if the author clearly states the origin of an idea or finding even if he or she does not specifically cite the exact literature. Some informality in the manner of referencing should be tolerated as long as the text is honest and informative.

Suitability. Essays in BAMS will not be confused with science papers. It is essential that the community can tell the difference at a glance. We encourage reviewers to alert us if a manuscript seems to be in a format that is unsuited for its content. Authors often mistakenly write for BAMS in a technical format when an essay format would be more appropriate. The opposite mistake is also possible. We expect reviewers to help BAMS safeguard against such confusion of genres.

Special BAMS Supplements


State of the Climate
Please read the full instructions that are included at the beginning of each manuscript.

For reasons of timeliness, analyses contained in the report are restricted to previously peer-reviewed and widely accepted methods, datasets, and monitoring techniques. The data may be updated and treated with techniques already published or simple, widely used statistical analysis (e.g. creating anomalies, etc).  The report is not a venue for new types of analyses or research results. Sections within each chapter are tightly focused, and summaries are relatively brief (exception: “sidebars” may introduce an event or concept with which the BAMS readership is not fully familiar, and they are written in a more explanatory manner). 


For the sections you are assigned, please review the material not only for the scope described above, but also, in particular, please identify:

  • errors in the author’s summary of climate and climate-related conditions in 2020
  • errors in the historical context within which the conditions are described
  • important omissions, but bear in mind the report is already lengthy so consider balancing any recommended additions with recommendations for text to delete
  • assertions of climatic state, dynamics, and data that do not reasonably appear to be founded upon previously peer-reviewed or widely-accepted methods, datasets, and monitoring techniques

Feel free to point out problems with the production quality of the images, grammatical errors, or the layout of the document, but keep in mind that a separate round of editing and production will address those issues before publication. Feel free also to make suggestions about the overall structure, style, balance, consistency, and sources of the report, but because of time and other logistical constraints, the authors are unlikely to be able to address fundamental comments until next year’s State of the Climate report. Every effort will be made to correct and revise the report based on your review.


Explaining Extreme Events
Please read the full instructions that are included at the beginning of each manuscript. 

Reviewers should keep the following criteria in mind when assessing the manuscript:  

  • The article should clearly identify the nature of the event (e.g. placing it into a historical context), and state a hypothesis as to its origins.  Given space limitations, papers should employ well-developed and vetted methods.
  • The paper should explicitly and quantitatively address how climate change has altered the extreme event.  The paper should address the strength of evidence that supports the paper’s capsule summary statement.
  • Unless otherwise noted, each paper in the supplement is restricted to no more than 1,500 words and 2 figures. Any e-supplement is limited to 2 figures and 250 words.
  • If you recommend that the paper include additional information, please consider these length constraints imposed on the authors and prioritize your requests

Previous Explaining Extreme Event reports are available here. These provide examples of the expectations BAMS has for these papers.