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JAAVSO: Instructions for Referees



As we all know, the quality of scientific journals such as this, and the viability of its science, depend critically on careful, objective, and informed refereeing. The purpose of this document is to answer questions about the process and protocol of refereeing for the Journal of the AAVSO and to convey our gratitude for the service performed by referees.

Selection of referees: Potential referees are selected by the Editor and will be asked by e-mail whether the candidate feels able to do the job in a reasonably short time, which is normally a few weeks. After an affirmative reply is received the paper will be transmitted by e-mail. Candidates who cannot undertake the task are requested to let us know as soon as possible, and are invited to suggest alternate names. In addition to tightness of schedule, candidates are expected to be sensitive to questions of conflict of interest in agreeing to referee a paper.

What to look for while refereeing: The referee is selected to be an objective scientific expert whose task is to critique the paper as a written description of a research project. The referee should resist the temptation to suggest that the author ought to have carried out a different research project. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Matters of format, grammar, and usage may ordinarily be left to the editorial staff.
  2. Explanations that are turgid ought to be pointed out and alternatives may be suggested.
  3. The paper should be as concise as is consistent with the transmission of the essential results.
  4. The Editor will usually accept the referee's report as written and will arbitrate in cases of disagreement.
Referees ought to ask themselves whether:  [EDIT AS NECESSARY]
  1. The paper presents new scientific results or, in the case of a review paper, a cogent and balanced review of the subject;
  2. Procedures are described well enough to permit independent repetition of the work by a qualified scientist;
  3. Appropriate quantitative uncertainties are assigned to numerical results;
  4. Prior work is adequately referenced;
  5. Illustrations are both adequate and necessary, with axes that are properly labeled and symbols that are clear and distinguishable.

Referees are encouraged to read the IAU resolution regarding magnitude systems

Anonymity and submission of the report: The report should be e-mailed back to AAVSO and addressed to the Editor although written in such a way that it can be forwarded directly to the author. It is left up to the referee to decide whether to remain anonymous.



AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 617-354-0484