Reviewer Guidelines

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Short reviewer guidelines

When requested to review a manuscript, we ask you to consider three things:

  • You have the expertise and experience that is needed to evaluate the manuscript thoughtfully. It may be best to pass if you feel that you are not qualified to comment on the methodological or statistical techniques used in the manuscript or the overall contribution to the field.

  • You have the ability to provide a fair and unbiased review. In the case of a conflict of interest with the manuscript or its authors, or of a close personal/working relationship with the authors the Handling Editor should be informed via email or via the review invitation system.

  • You have sufficient time to dedicate to the review. If you feel that you cannot complete a peer review in the requested time, please inform the Handling Editor as soon as possible so that another reviewer can be found promptly.

If you cannot satisfy the above criteria, and cannot complete the peer review, then please inform the Handling Editor as soon as possible so that another reviewer can be found promptly. Seismica will be very grateful if you can suggest other reviewers.

Seismica does not use a structured review form. The following sections provide some guidance on information to include and questions to consider in writing your review, which can be uploaded to the journal website as a PDF or copy-pasted into a text box when you are ready to submit it. Any format is fine as long as reviews are clear and respectful. Reviewers may also upload marked up copies of the manuscript file (remember to strip any personal identification from the file before uploading it if you are not signing your review)

Reviewers should inform the handling Editor if a manuscript contains or appears to contain plagiarism or falsified or manipulated data, or if there are any strong similarities between the submitted manuscript and another either published or under consideration by a different journal.  If necessary, provide a companion or similar paper for reference during the review process.

Clearly explain and support your judgements so that editors and authors may understand the basis of your comments and provide reference to additional published works, where appropriate.

Authors should explain the data sources and codes used to generate the results. Reviewers should verify that these are accessible, sufficiently well documented, and self-contained. Anonymized submissions may withhold access to data and codes that might inadvertently reveal the identity of the authors. In this case, the handling Editor will verify that codes and data are accessible.

Since Seismica will be relying on volunteer copy editors from the community, any typos or grammatical issues that the reviewers can flag will be greatly appreciated. However, these issues should not form the main objectives of the peer review reporting. Any technical comments/suggestions can be appended during typesetting.

With the exception of fast reports, reviewers will be asked to return reviews in 4 weeks. The journal aims to return the first decision in 8 weeks, but will not rush decisions at the expense of the scientific process (e.g. giving reviewers more time in case of delays, requiring a third review if appropriate, or calling in a new reviewer in the case of non-response from a previously agreed reviewer). Fast reports ask for reviews in 2 weeks and aim for the first decision in 4 weeks.  

If the manuscript is accepted, then peer review reports (anonymous if the review is not signed) and rebuttal letters will be published online, alongside the published paper.

Consider addressing the following questions in your review text:

  • Is the paper of value and interest to a significant position of the potential readers of Seismica?

  • Is the study timely and of current interest?

  • Is the manuscript clear and easy to follow?

  • Is the manuscript’s title adequate and accurate?

  • Is the abstract adequate?

  • Are the methods appropriate and described in sufficient detail to be transparent and reproducible?

  • Are the conclusions adequate and supported by the data?

  • Is the paper unnecessarily long? Does it include too many materials that can be found in other sources?

  • Is the paper significantly different to those already published by this author(s) or any other paper in this field of study?

  • If the study disagrees significantly with the current academic consensus, is there a substantial case? If not, what would be required to make their case credible?

  • If the paper includes tables or figures, what do they add to the paper? Do they aid understanding, or are they superfluous?

The table below lists criteria to consider in making a recommendation to accept, request revisions, or reject a manuscript. Note that reviewer recommendations are seen by the editors only, and they do not necessarily reflect the editor’s final decision, and it is their discretion to make the final call.

Recommendation

Some examples of standard criteria to consider (non-exhaustive)

Rejection

 

(note that fixing some of these issues could allow a possible resubmission)

Key elements such as a title, list of authors and affiliations, main text, references, or figures and tables are missing.

The study uses a discredited method.

The manuscript contains plagiarized material.

Submissions using the same method AND analysis AND theory AND data, AND giving the same results and conclusions from existing published results without quantitative comparison, should be rejected.

Unsubstantiated pseudoscience or other work can either be (1) readily disproven (2) unreproducible. For example, accurately predicting future earthquakes in space and time.

Not being able to read the general methods and results of the manuscript due to poor Scientific English, without any unnecessary language-based gatekeeping.

The tables and figures are not clear enough to read.

Out of the broad scope of Seismica (see Section 1.1).

A clear hypothesis or motivation for the study hasn’t been established.

Non-compliance with Seismica’s data policy

Return to author for Major revisions

The manuscript makes unsubstantiated conclusions from the data/evidence presented but can still be fixed upon revision.

Quite a lot of crucial references are missing.

Synthesis of previous work lacks breadth or understanding of the field.

The motivation for the work is poorly explained.

Interpretation is primarily based on previous work, not the paper’s results.

Lack of error analysis, flawed error analysis, or lack of information about assumptions

Major numerical errors that impact the validity of the results or interpretations.

Return to author

Minor revisions

The results and conclusions appear sound. Still, they need to undergo some additional minor testing.

The figures and tables are relevant but need minor changes to improve their clarity.

A few key references are missing.

Motivation for work is good but needs some additional work.

Minor numerical errors.

Accept

The contribution is significant, exciting or innovative.

The work is very well written. No changes to be made (apart from any minor technical corrections that can be made during the typesetting process).

The conclusions are consistent with the evidence and arguments presented and address the central question(s) posed.

The underlying theory is well understood and presented.

No changes to the methods or analysis are needed.

The manuscript is very well organized and has an exemplary logical flow.

The work is not missing any key references

No numerical errors.

It is not compulsory, but we recommend that peer reviewers sign their reports to ensure open and constructive reviews and acknowledge the community-based philosophy of Seismica.

By agreeing to carry out a peer review, you agree to abide by Seismica’s Code of Conduct.

Reviewers should ensure that all unpublished data, information, interpretation and discussion in a submitted article (which hasn’t been published in a preprint repository) remain confidential (See the policies on confidentiality) and may not use reported work in unpublished, submitted articles for their research.

Reviewers should only suggest that authors include citations to their own (or their associates’) work where this adds significant value to the scientific aspects of the paper. Authors can decide not to include these citations if they are deemed irrelevant or redundant.

Once a review is complete, reviewers should not retain or copy the submitted manuscript in any form.

Reviewers may not use information obtained during the peer review process for their own or any other person’s or organization’s advantage or disadvantage, or to discredit others.

The same requirements listed in Author Guidelines on responding to reviewers and editors apply to reviewer reports.  See the Guidelines for Handling Editors for possible editorial responses to inappropriate, biased, or libelous language in reviews.