As we all know, the quality of scientific journals such as the Journal of the AAVSO, 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 JAAVSO 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. Matters of format, grammar, and usage may ordinarily be left to the editorial staff (remembering, however, that the article must be presented in clear, concise, and non-idiomatic English). Explanations that are turgid ought to be pointed out and alternatives may be suggested. The paper should be as concise as is consistent with the transmission of the essential results.
Factors the referee will consider include whether the paper presents new scientific results or, in the case of a review paper, a cogent and balanced review of the subject; whether procedures are described well enough to permit independent repetition of the work by a qualified scientist; whether appropriate quantitative uncertainties are assigned to numerical results; whether prior work is adequately referenced; and whether illustrations are both adequate and necessary, with axes that are properly labeled and symbols that are clear and distinguishable.
Referees are urged to read the IAU resolution regarding magnitude systems.
The Editor will usually accept the referee's report as written and will arbitrate in cases of disagreement.
Anonymity and submission of the report: The report should be sent to the 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.