The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management

Referee Guidelines

Referees are asked to assess papers on the basis of their merit. The Rangeland Journal publishes original work that makes a significant contribution to understanding the biophysical, social, cultural, economic, and policy influences affecting rangeland use and management throughout the world. Rangelands are defined broadly and include all those environments where natural ecological processes predominate, and where values and benefits are based primarily on natural resources.

Papers may present the results of original research, contributions to theory, practice or policy, or new conclusions reached from the review of a topic. Their structure need not conform to that of standard scientific articles but writing style must be clear and concise. All material presented must be well documented, critically analysed and objectively presented.

Privacy of unpublished results
An unpublished manuscript is a privileged document.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 Do not cite a manuscript or refer to the work it describes before it has been published and do not use the information that it contains for the advancement of your own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.

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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.

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The review
Papers should initially be assessed as a whole, with respect to the value of the contribution in its field and its presentation. Papers should present a coherent exposition on the subject, with a single theme or hypothesis from introduction to conclusion. They should be based on sound science and/or logical argument. They ought to be sufficiently comprehensive to warrant publication, but need not answer every aspect of the topic. The author´s opinions should be accepted, even if you do not share those opinions, unless they can be shown to be in error. Please note strengths as well as weaknesses.

The review should give your overall impression of the manuscript, and list the major shortcomings. Please consider the following aspects in particular:

  • The novelty of the work, and whether there is sufficient originality and substance to be worthy of publication
  • The articulation of the rationale or hypothesis
  • The appropriateness of the experimental design and analyses
  • The quality of the technical analysis, and the correct use of units
  • The interpretation of results
  • Awareness (cogent discussion) of related international research

Referees are asked to assess the standard and logic of the paper as appropriate to its discipline, including such matters as:

  • are the results couched within the existing body of knowledge on the topic? (20 references are usually sufficient)
  • is the experimental design sound (if relevant) and are appropriate statistical tests applied and correctly interpreted?
  • is the logic sound and are the conclusions justified? A degree of extrapolation on the significance and application of the findings is encouraged.

It would be helpful to the Editor to comment on unnecessary length and to point out figures and tables that have secondary importance and could be presented as Supplementary Material.

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Grammatical editing
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 author´s style should be allowed to stand unless it detracts from readability and understanding. Areas to consider include:

  • is the presentation clear and concise?
  • are the tables and figures clear and necessary?
  • does the nomenclature conform to accepted standards (if appropriate)?
  • do the title and abstract adequately reflect the content of the paper?

The copy-editing staff employed by The Rangeland Journal 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 (who are trained plant scientists but not necessarily specialists in the particular subject area of the manuscript) 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.

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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.

If the paper is accepted, you will be sent a PDF when it is published online.