Please review the manuscript according to the criteria listed below, although if you have any other thoughts that you think could be relevant please add them to your report.
- Privacy of unpublished results
- Types of papers published
- Criteria for acceptance of manuscripts
- Your report
- Questions you should consider when assessing a manuscript’s suitability for publication
- When should you consider declining to review a manuscript?
- Grammatical editing
- What happens next?
- References (for further reading on writing a referee’s report)
Privacy of unpublished results
An unpublished manuscript is a privileged document. Please protect it from any form of exploitation. Do not cite a manuscript or refer to the work it describes before it has been published and do not use the information that it contains for the advancement of your own research or in discussion with colleagues.
Do not discuss the manuscript with its authors unless permission has been granted by the Editor. Although it may seem natural and reasonable to discuss points of difficulty or disagreement directly with the author, especially if you are generally in favour of publication and do not mind revealing your identity, this practice is prohibited because the other referee(s) and the Editor may have different opinions, and the author may be misled by having ´cleared things up´ with the referee who contacted him/her directly.
Reviews should be completed within 21–28 days. If you know that you cannot finish the review within that time, please contact the Editorial Assistant immediately. In addition, if you believe that you cannot judge a given article impartially through contact with the authors or a possible conflict of interest, please return it immediately with an explanation.
Types of papers published
Animal Production Science publishes papers that are relevant to the animal sciences. Most of the papers are research reports; however, the journal also publishes review papers, perspectives, viewpoints, and comments on previously published papers.
- Research papers. Research papers should report the results of soundly conducted research and focus on improving livestock and food production, and on the social and economic issues that influence primary producers. The work should be predominantly concerned with domesticated animals (beef cattle, dairy cows, sheep, pigs, and poultry); however, contributions on wild animals may be published if they have relevance to ´future´ food industries.
- Review papers. Plenary reviews should summarise a body of knowledge and, from it, formulate ideas and recommendations that would be useful to international research in the animal sciences. The introductory paragraphs should set the review topic in its wider context and outline the aspects to be discussed. The final sections should not be a summary, but should provide the reader with ´food for thought´ (i.e. new research directions, outstanding problems to be solved). The text should be simple to read and should be as brief as possible.
- Viewpoint papers. A viewpoint paper reports ideas that are new or a significant improvement on current opinion and theories. It is normally shorter than a review paper and focuses on ´emerging ideas´ or a ´legitimate´ point of view. Viewpoints should not be used as a refuge from the ´trouble´ of precise thought.
- Perspective papers. A perspective is a pithy (but balanced) opinion piece about current or future directions in animal science. A perspective can critically assess current scientific topics or report on future issues that may arise from the discipline. Perspectives that address interdisciplinary research areas with relevance to a broader audience are of particular interest to the journal. The perspective should be accompanied by an abstract and generally range from 1000 to 4000 words; tables and figures can be included.
- Overview papers. An overview paper can give a broader and often a more personal perspective on a subject than a review paper. The intent is to stimulate discussion and possible rethinking of current views in the animal sciences. An overview may refer to work in progress and may contain unpublished material, provided that appropriate methodology is briefly described and the work justified and analysed statistically. The authors should draw conclusions and recommendations, where appropriate.
- Agricultural relevance. Animal Production Science is an international journal focusing on the publication of cutting-edge research relating to the production of food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals. The subject scope extends from the molecular level through to the role of animals in farming systems.
- Soundness. If the design is unsound, the paper is unsound. The methods and analyses used must be acceptable to workers in the same field, and must be clearly capable of answering the problems posed. The interpretation must be restricted to the capacity of the methods chosen. Speculation beyond the limits of the design must not be disguised as inference or interpretation. However, authors should not evade their obligation to assess their work and draw conclusions from it.
- Newness. The data should increase the knowledge or improve the theory of agricultural science. The paper may extend or limit the range of acceptable theory, knowledge or practice. The essential data should not have been published elsewhere. A summary of the findings in the proceedings of a conference or in an extension article is not regarded as prior publication. However, if substantial parts of the data, such as those in tables and figures, have been published before, the inclusion of extra peripheral data does not alter the judgement that the paper is not new.
- Brevity. We cannot afford to publish long-winded papers. Please point out any parts of the manuscript that you consider irrelevant to the purpose of the paper, and also where there is repetition or excessive referencing. Comments on the manuscript itself may be adequate.
- Writing an effective review. Manuscripts should be assessed on the basis of their contribution to knowledge within the scope of the journal. Although you may not fully share them, the author’s opinions should be allowed to stand unless they are shown to be in error. It is our experience that factual criticism and constructive suggestions will rarely be mistaken for rudeness. Reviewing a manuscript should be viewed as a common enterprise where both author and referee aim to improve, clarify and publish, not to confront, discourage or negate. The key to a good review is being able to convince the author that you have found legitimate problems with the study and then providing some reasoned solution(s). If your review is poorly received the author may simply publish the work elsewhere or may shelve a set of results that have value. All reviews must contain a definite recommendation on the manuscript’s suitability for publication. The recommendation should summarise your assessment and classify the manuscript as either acceptable without alteration, acceptable with revision, or unacceptable.
- Structuring your referee´s report. Authors appreciate a carefully structured report that outlines the major problems (if any) followed by minor comments (usually listed against page and line number) and then a recommendation. You shouldn’t be unduly negative in your comments; instead, present a balanced report that identifies the particularly good aspects of the manuscript as well as its deficiencies. Remember that the partnership between author, referee and editor should be a constructive relationship that produces accurate information using a concise writing style.
Questions you should consider when assessing a manuscript’s suitability for publication
(not all questions are relevant to every manuscript)
- Relevance and information content. Is the work adequately explained in the manuscript? Is it a significant and important contribution to the field of investigation? Has the work been published elsewhere? Does the manuscript provide valuable new information that extends previously published results?
- Soundness and experimental methods. Is the description of the material and methods sufficiently clear and complete, or documented by references, for the work to be repeated by the reader? Have suitable measurements been performed? Are the controls adequate and reliable? Is the amount of replication adequate? Do any calculations contain errors? Has the work been soundly designed and interpreted? Should a biometrician be consulted? Is the work reported reasonably ‘complete’ or is it obviously preliminary or a single experiment requiring further investigation?
- Interpretation and conclusions. Is the interpretation adequate and supported by the data? Are there important omissions or loose generalisations? Are there confounded variables, hidden or neglected variation, and excessive interpretation of scanty or non-significant data? If there is speculation about the results, is it clearly distinguished from fact and appropriate? Are the conclusions and/or recommendations justified?
- Presentation and style. Is the material presented in a concise, logical manner that can be easily understood? Is all the text essential? Is there redundancy or repetition in the text? Can some sections to be condensed? Are there areas where improvement should be made? Are all the tables and figures cited in the text? Are they all required? Is there any duplication between text, figures and tables? Do the captions for the tables and figures accurately reflect their contents? Do the abbreviations, formulae, units, and nomenclature conform with international conventions? Is the quality of line drawings and/or photographs adequate?
- Title and summary. Do the title and summary cover the content of the manuscript? Does the summary convey the purpose/objectives of the study, the materials and methods used, and the results and conclusions in a succinct manner? Is the summary complete (statements such as ‘will be discussed’ or ‘are presented’ are not appropriate)?
- Citations and references. Are all the references to other work justified? Has the author omitted reference(s) to any significant work?
When should you consider declining to review a manuscript?
You probably should not review a manuscript if you believe there is a strong conflict of interest. In our experience, conflicts of interest occur when:
- you have had a history of serious (unresolved) disagreement with the authors,
- you and the authors are co-researchers on a current research project,
- you and the authors have jointly published papers in the past three years,
- you were part of an internal review panel for the paper before submission.
You are not requested to correct deficiencies of style or mistakes in grammar, but any help you can give in clarifying meaning will be appreciated (track changes can expedite the editing process; a MS Word file, in addition to the PDF, is available in ScholarOne by accessing the Manuscript Files tab). The copy-editing staff employed by Animal Production Science will edit each accepted manuscript. It is their function to polish and correct the grammar, syntax, and spelling and to enforce the editorial style of the journal. However, be on the lookout for errors that the copyeditors might miss. Examples are misspellings of chemical names, use of outmoded terminology, misspelled or misidentified scientific names of organisms, inappropriate scientific jargon, and incorrect genetic nomenclature.
What happens next?
When you open ScholarOne Manuscripts to submit your report, you will be offered some questions with a check box. The answers to these are for the use of the Editor, and are not conveyed directly to the authors. The most important are the first and last: the quality of the manuscript and your recommendation.
Keep a copy of the review in your files. If you have recommended ´major revision´, the revised manuscript may be returned to you for further comment.
- Barrass, R (1978) ‘Scientists Must Write. A Guide to Better Writing for Scientists, Engineers and Students.’ (Chapman and Hall: London.)
- Waser, MW, Price, MV, Grosberg, K (1992) Writing an effective manuscript review. Bioscience 42, 621–623.
- Rosenzweig, ML, Davis, JI, Brown, JH (1994) How to write an influential review. Plant Science Bulletin 40, 6–8.