Guidelines for Reviewers
Guidelines for reviewers
Many thanks for accepting to review a manuscript which was submitted to the European Journal of Taxonomy (EJT). The peer review system is an essential part of ensuring quality in scientific publishing, and we highly appreciate the fact that you accepted this responsibility as a token of ‘mutual altruism’! Indeed, as you are now devoting your time to help improving the work of a colleague, so your peers will do the same for you when you submit a manuscript for publication. To help ensuring that publishing scientists also act as referees, EJT considers it a gentlemen’s agreement that its authors, whose papers were accepted, also act as referees for other manuscripts submitted to the journal.
Scope of the journal
EJT is an international, fully electronic, Open Access journal in descriptive taxonomy, covering subjects in zoology, entomology, botany, and palaeontology. EJT-papers must be original and of high scientific (content) and technical (language, art work...) standard. Manuscripts that are clearly substandard in either of these categories will not be sent out for review. EJT is carried by a consortium of (European) natural history institutes, but its scope is global. Both authorship and geographical region of study need NOT be European. Authors are, however, invited to involve European natural history collections by consulting extant material, or by depositing (type-) material related to the published paper in the collection of a European Natural History Institute.
Editors will initially check if a manuscript fits the scope of the journal, but it is possible that your in-depth analysis of the manuscript reveals that the promising title and abstract actually only cover a technical note, or a limited faunistic/floristic survey, so that the manuscript in fact does fall out of the scope of the journal. In that case, please alert the associate editor to this and recommend rejection.
Standards of the Journal
Both scientific and technical standards of EJT are high.
Scientific: please make sure that the Introduction soundly introduces the content of the paper and that Material and Methods are complete and will allow repeatability. In Results, ensure that descriptions are sound, complete and appropriate, that rules of the various International Codes of Nomenclature are followed, that locations of type material (including coordinates) of new taxa are given, etc. All papers should end with a discussion, even a short one, clearly outlining the (international) relevance of the work presented.
The scope of EJT is global, so short faunistic/floristic notes, checklists of limited geographical areas (e.g. a country) etc are not considered. Single species descriptions can only be accepted if the relevance of the new taxon can be demonstrated (e.g. a description of single new species in a genus that already contains many, will not be considered).
Describing new species on single specimen is strongly discouraged.
Technical: only papers in English are considered, and the English should not be substandard. Authors can use their own style, as long as the manuscript in linguistically correct. American, UK or Australian styles of English are acceptable, as long as they are consistent within the entire manuscript. Illustrations must be of high quality and very detailed. EJT distributes published taxonomic treatments and specimen citations (occurrence records) to biodiversity databases in XML format. In order to accurately harvest data from the articles, we ask authors to follow certain standardised formats in these sections. For more information, see the FAIR & Open Science section.
Your recommendations to editors
We ask you to assess the manuscript in view of the scope of EJT, as well as of the journal’s technical and scientific standards. The style and length of your assessment is completely open and free. After having written your assessment, which will be forwarded to the authors, you can also enter blind comments which will be read by topical and section editors, and editor in chief only. In addition, you can download a word-file of the manuscript and annotate it. The Editorial Manager system will send only ‘sanitized’ version of the annotated manuscript to the authors, i.e. no names or initials of referees will appear in the comments. If you wish to remain anonymous, please do not enter your name or initials in the file name.
Please recommend any of the following decisions:
Revise before review: if you think that the English is so substandard that it is impossible to review this paper, or if quality of figures and tables makes them unreadable, or if for any other technical reason you think it is impossible to review this paper in its present state, then please recommend this option and explain the problem to the editor. If this is the case, then we apologize, as our initial editorial screening should prevent such substandard papers to be sent out for review.
Accept: according to you, the paper is now ready to go into production as it is. No more minor changes are needed, the language is acceptable.
Acceptable with minor revisions: the paper is technically and scientifically sound, only minor corrections are needed, e.g. missing references, some weird sentences or title or abstract need to be rephrased, some figures and/or tables are redundant or not clear,… Acceptance is guaranteed if these problems are adequately addressed.
Revisions are needed: some more serious revision is needed. The introduction is incomplete; Material and methods are unclear; illustrations and/or descriptions are substandard, etc. Acceptance is not necessarily guaranteed.
Major revisions are needed: there are serious problems with the paper. The assumptions are wrong, the introduction does not address the question at hand, the materials and methods might be faulty, results are confused and complete analyses and illustrations are needed, discussion does not address the results nor is the literature adequate, etc. Basically, the manuscript will need to be seriously redone, but it will essentially remain the same story. Acceptance is NOT guaranteed, because replies to questions as the above might reveal fundamental flaws, which will then lead to rejection.
In case you recommend major revision, please indicate if you are willing to undertake a re-revision.
Rejected, without possibility to resubmit: the paper is either out of scope (see above), or technical and/or scientific standards are below those of the journal, for example if fatal flaws in methods, results and/ or discussions are detected. Examples of this can be the description of taxa clearly synonymous with already existing ones, descriptions or illustrations that do not meet the standards in the field, etc.
Suggested: below, we list some questions that we would like you to address in your referee report. Many thanks in advance.
Is the contribution new and original?
Is it as concise as possible or could some parts of the text, figures and tables be moved to Electronic Supplementary Material?
Is the abstract as concise as possible? Does it contain all taxonomic alterations? Will it be useful as such for systematic databases?
Does the paper follow the IMRAD structure (Introduction, Material and Methods, Results, General Discussion)?
Is the taxonomic science up to standard:
- Do the authors follow the appropriate nomenclatorial rules?
- Do descriptions of new taxa address all relevant issues (etymology, deposition of type material, localisation of type and other localities, measurements, differential diagnosis, description, …)?
- Is the technical and scientific quality of the line drawings and/or illustrations acceptable?
Does the manuscript require improvement of language?
Is the list of references sufficiently comprehensive?