Rigorous, thorough, and objective peer reviews play a critical role in advancing science. We are always looking for good reviewers!
To provide for a frank exchange of ideas among professionals, and to avoid any appearance of intimidation or coercion, some degree of confidentiality must be maintained in the review process. JAWRA policy is to not disclose the names of the reviewers of a particular article. The only exception would be in the event of a court order requiring disclosure. Reviewers are, however, free to disclose their own roles as reviewers. AWRA regularly publishes lists of reviewers, thanking them for their work, but does not associate the names with particular papers.
Draft manuscripts and reviews are considered confidential, and should not be distributed to those not involved in authoring or reviewing. Reviewers may discuss the manuscript with a colleague to clarify a point in question, but must do so in the context of confidentiality. Direct communications about the manuscript between reviewers and authors, or among reviewers, is discouraged. All review comments must be passed through the editorial process, so a record of how questions are resolved can be maintained.
Following publication of a paper, JAWRA retains a record of the review for a period of 90 days. The review record, though not the names of reviewers, may be released at the discretion of the Editor to settle questions about the accuracy or fairness of the review process.
Those reviewing a manuscript for JAWRA are asked to answer a series of questions listed below. Reviewers are not constrained by this list, but may include any comments they see fit. AWRA truly appreciates the work of our reviewers!
How to make your review count.
We know your time is valuable. Here are some suggestions for making a bigger impact with your reviews.
1. Place your comments in context.
Good reviewers tell us what they think, and why. They give us confidence in their evaluations. Here is an example of why you should provide more information:
Literature Cited. Does the discussion of earlier works document how this work adds to the body of knowledge? Are the relevant contributions of others cited?
Reviewers A and B give the same bottom line, "Ok." But is Reviewer A really knowledgable about the literature? We don't know from the comment. Reviewer B gives us a context to understand his or her evaluation. B's comment, moreover, helps us evaluate Reviewer C's, perhaps avoiding us sending the authors on a fruitless search for more citations.
2. Offer Solutions to Problems
If you find something wrong with a paper, give the authors an idea how they can satisfy your objection. Example:
Satisfying Reviewer A is open ended. In responding, the author may or may not provide sufficient evidence, perhaps necessitating a third round of reviews. Reviewer B has, more helpfully, specified what the author needs to do.
3. If You See Something, Say Something
Reviewers are our front line of defense against academic fraud. If you think you've seen a paper somewhere else, if the correlation seems too good to be true, or if you just sense something is wrong, let us know. We take all these warnings, even hunches, seriously. They are investigated discreetly but firmly. Reviewers' identities are held confidential.
4. Look at Ideas, not Grammar
English is not their first language for an increasing number of our authors. Please try to look beyond the grammar to see if ideas are clear and logic makes sense. The copy editors will fix the grammar. That said, if a paper is so badly translated you cannot make sense of it, do not waste your time reviewing it further; send it back to us and recommend rejection.
Blackwell Publications provides excellent copy editing before papers are published. Please resist the urge to copy edit! Doing so risks obscuring your more important technical comments.
5. Understand the Overall Recommendation
Reviewers sometimes differ widely in their overall evaluations. Here is a little more guidance:
Keep in mind the other reviewers may (and often do!) see things differently. The Editor and Associate Editors take all reviews into account and decide upon an appropriate course of action. In the rare event an author and reviewer cannot agree how to resolve an important difference, we send the paper to a third party to advise us on the point in question.