Reviewer Guidelines for AMS Journals

Please see Obligations of Reviewers in the AMS Scientific Publication Process for AMS’s ethical guidelines for reviewers.

Your review is a vital part of the process of communicating research ideas, accomplishments, and progress in the sciences covered by the AMS journals. You are asked to make an evaluation and provide recommendations to ensure the scientific quality of a manuscript, including figures and tables. Note that reviewers are not expected to rewrite a paper and that a clear distinction must be made between errors on the part of the author and differences of opinion between author and reviewer.

We greatly appreciate your time and effort in preparing your review. If you have questions after reading the instructions below, please contact the Editor.

All submission types

Questions to consider as you write your review include:

  • Does the paper fit within the stated scope of the journal?
  • Does the paper identify a gap in scientific knowledge and add new knowledge to the overall body of scientific understanding, or does it repeat another study to verify its findings?
  • Is the paper free of errors in logic?
  • Do the conclusions follow from the evidence?
  • Are alternative explanations explored as appropriate?
  • Are biases, limitations, and assumptions clearly stated, and is uncertainty quantified?
  • Is methodology explained in sufficient detail, and appropriate references for the supporting data and software provided, so that the paper's scientific conclusions could be tested by others?
  • Is previous work and current understanding cited and represented correctly?
  • Is information conveyed clearly enough to be understood by the typical reader?
  • Are all figures and tables necessary, appropriate, legible, and annotated (as appropriate)?
  • Authors have the option of including a short (120 words) Significance Statement with their manuscript immediately following the abstract. See the guidelines for Significance Statements for more information. Reviewers should consider the following in evaluating Significance Statements:
    1. Is the Significance Statement consistent with the content of the article? Does it either over- or understate the importance of the study and its findings?
    2. Is the Significance Statement written in language that is understandable to educated laypersons outside of the paper’s subject area? Jargon and technical wording must be replaced by terms familiar to non-specialists.

Please note the areas in which you are satisfied with the manuscript. In cases where you find deficiencies, please specify how they can be remedied. If you believe the manuscript cannot be modified to reach the standard AMS requires for publication, state why you feel this is true. The more detail you provide, the better your review can assist the Editor in judging the paper's suitability for publication and also in giving useful information to the author for improving the paper in revision. Please list the most serious concerns first. A suggestion is to classify them into the following groups: Fatal Flaws (if any), Major Comments, Minor Comments, and Typos. Within each group, please number the comments and provide specific page and/or line numbers from the manuscript.

If the manuscript has numerous grammatical mistakes that inhibit the ability of a reader to understand the arguments, you may recommend rejection without writing a detailed review. The AMS recognizes that peer reviewers should not be required to fix manuscripts needing excessive revisions to English spelling and grammar. The authors may wish to employ a professional manuscript editing service in such situations.

Reviewer recommendations provide a consistent set of guidelines to the Editor. Your review should begin with your overall recommendation: Accept as is (no changes), Minor Revisions required (no need to see the revised manuscript), Major Revisions required (need to reevaluate the revised manuscript), Reject, or Transfer (please specify the appropriate journal if possible).

AMS policy is that all reviews are considered anonymous unless you specifically indicate in your comments to the Editor that you wish to waive your anonymity.

Review Articles

Peer review reports for Review articles should be approached slightly differently than for regular Articles. In addition to the Reviewer Guidelines for all submission types, please consider the following points:

  • Being a Review, the manuscript does not necessarily need to have original content. However, the content of the Review should present the work in a manner in which it has not been synthesized previously. Does the Review, through its synthesis, bring a new perspective to the topic?
  • Does the Review provide a comprehensive breadth of the topic, rather than being narrowly focused on one particular group of researchers or a small number of groups?
  • Is the Review timely?
  • Is the scope of the Review well defined?
  • Where relevant, does the Review lay out future research opportunities?
  • Where relevant, does the Review portray controversies and conflicts accurately and from a balanced perspective?
  • Where relevant, does the Review describe the limitations and strengths of previous research?

Lessons Learned (AIES)

Lessons Learned manuscripts differ from regular Articles in several ways, so in addition to following the Reviewer Guidelines for all submission types, please keep the following points in mind as you review:

  • Lessons Learned manuscripts must be short (roughly 3,000 words) and focused on providing general insights to the audience. Please include feedback in your review if you feel that the manuscript is too lengthy and provide suggestions for what might be cut. Alternatively, please include feedback in your review if you feel that key information is missing, even if adding it might increase the manuscript length beyond the limit.
  • The manuscript should provide such insights on the use of AI for Earth Systems through either a successful or an unsuccessful research result, or through a meta-analysis or perspective based on existing results. While it is typically harder to publish negative results, we encourage publication so long as the results are well analyzed and provide general insights. The goal is to prevent other researchers from going down fruitless pathways and to enable the community to move forward quickly in the most promising directions.

Perspectives (AIES and EI)

Perspectives are either forward-looking or speculative thought pieces that summarize a current problem and provide informed opinions about a proposed solution and call for new integrative research. They may also highlight entry points for emerging approaches and techniques. These papers will often be based on experiences and/or vision of the authors and may include opinion, and/or potentially qualitative or quantitative analysis. These peer-reviewed contributions are designated as a special article type. They should be around 5,000 words and shorter contributions are encouraged.

Because these are a separate article type, Perspectives should be reviewed using different guidelines than a regular article. In particular, it is expected that the Perspective will include some opinion in the piece. Reviewers 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 should not, however, demand changes to an author’s opinion or topic simply because you disagree, only if the issue is scientific accuracy. Should you hold strong opposing opinions, we would encourage you to draft a good-faith, constructive perspective in response. We do ask that you focus on accuracy, style, length, suitability, and other quality issues:

  • Accuracy. AMS journals, including AIES and EI, represent a large integrated multi-disciplinary community. The quality of our papers 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 AMS journals by making sure that what is published is scientifically accurate.
  • Style. General statements may be necessary 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. Please ensure that the perspective is logical and fair. In other words, we ask you to represent knowledgeable readers to safeguard not only AMS journals 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 and clear to the audience of the journal it is submitted to (AIES or EI). Given the nature of the readers of both journals, please also ensure that jargon is avoided and that terms that may not be known by the full AMS audience are well defined. For example, defining AI terms as needed will make the article better than if the authors assume the readers are intimately familiar with all AI details.
  • Length. If needed, suggest ways to make the perspective more concise. These articles should be about 5000 words or less, and shorter pieces are encouraged. This does not count references, figures, or abstract. Exceptions should be justifiable and must be approved by the EIC.
  • Citations. Perspectives should reference relevant literature but it is understood that this will be less complete than a full technical article. 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. Perspectives in AIES and EI 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 the content of a perspective.

Earth Interactions (EI): Required Review Questions

EI seeks to publish cross- and interdisciplinary research investigating a broad range of interactions between various Earth systems. We encourage both prospective authors and reviewers to consider the following questions when assessing whether a study is a good fit for EI. In addition to the Reviewer Guidelines for all submission types, please answer the following required questions, which will appear in Editorial Manager when you submit your review:

  • Are the Earth system interactions being explored in this study clearly defined and motivated? (Yes/No)
  • Does this study integrate knowledge/theory of different Earth system processes that govern the stated interactions being explored? (Yes/No)
  • Does this study integrate knowledge and/or methods from different Earth system disciplines, either conceptually or operationally? (Yes/No/Not Applicable, with optional comments)
  • Does this study constitute a major advancement at the intersection of two or more Earth system disciplines? (Yes/No/Not Applicable, with optional comments)

Social Science Datasets, Research Instruments, and Data Ethics (WCAS)

“Social Science Datasets, Research Instruments, and Data Ethics” articles are intended to introduce and describe innovative or recent products of wide applicability and interest, relevant to the scope of WCAS. Articles describing a dataset or data ethics are not expected to include an analysis or discussion section, however, a concise summary of statistical reliability and validity is encouraged when publishing a novel survey or other research instrument. The relatively brief articles should provide a detailed description of their dataset, instrument, or data ethics issue, should explain its significance to the field, and should provide access to the full instrument or dataset, if applicable. If you have questions concerning these criteria, please contact the WCAS Editor who is handling the manuscript.

Supporting Data/Software and Their Inclusion in the Availability Statement

Reviewer responsibilities with regard to the supporting data and software for articles and their inclusion in Availability Statements are the following:

  • Determine if the supporting data and software referenced in the manuscript is relevant and germane to the research, and that all supporting sources have been identified and fully cited, if possible.
  • Review the Availability Statement to ensure all the relevant data and software is cited (if reference exists), and include permanent identifiers that link to its archive, if available.

In the interest of a thorough review, reviewers have the option to ensure that the data and software DOIs/links resolve correctly and the content is as described, and request more clarity if needed.