BAMS—Subject Matter Editors' Guidelines for Comment/Reply Procedures
The Subject Matter Editor (SME) who handles the Comment/Reply process for BAMS is expected to conduct peer review of Comments and Replies in an even-handed manner so as to uphold publication standards of quality as well as to minimize confusion or potential acrimony that can result from multiple rounds of direct give and take between the authors of the Comment and the authors of the Reply.
As such, the SME can elect one of two procedures as befits the situation.
The first does not involve direct communication between the authors of the Comment and Reply. The SME sends the Comment to external readers of review first. Reviewers are allotted approximately one month to provide an evaluation. They are asked for feedback about the appropriateness of the Comment for publication, including about
1) generally, the value of the Comment as an addition to published literature on the subject;
2) specifically, the value of the Comment as a corrective to or extension of the Original Paper;
3) the scope of the Comment (it is delimited to relevant commentary on the Original Paper and is not a form for new research or unnecessary digression);
4) the appropriateness of the tone (such as frankness, civility, or reasonableness) of the Comment for scientific discourse; and
5) the existence of flaws or misrepresentations in the Comment, including those of logic, attribution, or evidence.
The author of the Comment is asked (expected) to respond and revise based on the reviewer's comments, per the SME's instructions. When the SME is satisfied with this review process, including rereview if necessary, the revised Comment is sent to the author of the Original Paper for a Reply. The Reply is then subject to the same review procedure as the Comment, with similar criteria. Once the Comment and Reply have both passed the review process the SME then makes a decision to accept one or both.
In some cases, the quality of the Comment and Reply are more efficiently and productively "reviewed" through an iterative process between authors. In such cases the SME may choose not to initiate an external review and instead send the Comment immediately to the authors of the Original Paper for a Reply. The Reply is then sent to the author of the Comment for adjustments to the Comment, if necessary, and then author of the Reply is afforded a chance to make a final adjustment in consideration of changes to the Comment. This exchange is repeated as many times as deemed necessary by the SME.
At any time the authors may withdraw their Comment or Reply. A withdrawn Reply does not prevent the publication of the Comment. At any time, the SME may reject either Comment or Reply. Rejection of the Reply does not prevent publication of the Comment. The SME may reject the Reply for undue delays in the review process. The SME may also choose at any time to recommend to the Editor in Chief that the Comment be placed into consideration for another section of BAMS, such as Letters to the Editor, or Forum, or Articles.