Revamping the Review at GEMS

Some time in the coming months, the review pages of GEMS will be revamped.  Right now, all JGR journals ask a single question about the manuscript’s content: the overall rating.  There are then several boxes for entering text, one for comments to the editor, one for the formal review, and then others about highlighting the paper and/or figures after acceptance.  Even though AGU has a specific list of questions asked of the referees, the review website does not enforce consideration of these questions.

My hope is that AGU adopts the 5-point Likert scale (“strongly agree” down to “strongly disagree”) for a series of statements regarding each aspect of the manuscript, followed by a text box for entering your justification of those ratings.  I want reviewers to justify the good as well as the bad.  Too often, reviewers only mention the negative points about the paper, and this is then tempting for the editor to require that all negative comments be addressed before acceptance.  If two reviewers disagree, then it would be very helpful to the editor to know the justification for the positive side of the debate, which is often never brought up.

Regarding the series of statements, I hope JGR adopts a list that spans the entirety of the paper: the science objective, the methodology, the results, the significance, the readability, the clarity of the figures and tables, and the appropriateness of the title and abstract.  This would force the reviewer to at least think about all of these parts of the paper; at least enough to make a selection, and hopefully even write a paragraph (or more) in defense of that position.

We’ll see what is adopted.  The conversation hasn’t officially started yet, but I want to be ready to fully participate in this discussion and formulation of how the review pages look.  If you have any thoughts, then please let me know.

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