Articles published in Limnology and Oceanography: Methods must meet very demanding criteria. It is not enough to show that a method works, even if it appears to work perfectly. The new method must provide new opportunities to advance the science, or resolve problems with existing methods that have held back progress. The task before you is to advise the Associate Editor whether you have been persuaded that a new method has the potential to lead to new insight in the aquatic sciences.
Equally high standards apply to manuscripts that deal with reviews and syntheses. The manuscript reviewer must determine whether these syntheses do more than merely summarize the methodology. Ideally, critical reviews and syntheses will offer new perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of the methods used in a particular discipline, and will suggest new and promising directions.
You must also critically evaluate the implementation of a proposed method. No matter how promising a method may be, it can't fulfill that promise unless it performs adequately. You must carefully examine the proofs of concept the authors have provided, and make an objective, critical decision as to whether 1) the authors have done the background work needed to understand their method's strengths and limitations, and 2) the performance of the method is sufficient to allow its potential to be realized.
Your opinion, however well founded, will not help the Associate Editor to make a decision unless you can explain the reasoning behind it. The more clearly you explain and support your opinion of a manuscript, the more likely it is that your opinion will prevail. A good review will not merely render a judgement, but will identify both positive and negative features of a manuscript, suggest ways that the manuscript could be improved, and explain the rationale behind any negative comments. Above all, a good review will encourage the authors to improve upon their work by addressing your concerns.
Both your review and the manuscript are confidential! The authors will see only the portion of your review designated for the authors. Unless you explicitly request to be identified, your name will not be revealed to the author. If the paper is subsequently revised and the revision is sent out for further review, new reviewers will receive a copy of the parts of your review that were sent to the author, together with the author's detailed responses to all reviews.
Your review should be divided into three parts.
This section is used to summarize your review for the authors. Briefly state what the potential impact of the method would be on the aquatic sciences. Comment on its originality, whether it is a novel approach or provides an alternative to an existing procedure, and whether the work done to assess its performance clearly supports its use. You should also comment on the probable impact of the method. How many people would it affect? If widely adopted, would it force users to rethink their perspective on the field? This section is not to include your recommendation regarding acceptance or rejection of the paper. Note that this section should be thoughtfully and carefully worded to convey your opinion without unnecessarily antagonizing the authors!
This section should be used to make concrete suggestions for improvement, to identify problems such as missing proofs of concept, to criticize specific paragraphs, figures, or tables, and to identify sections that could be eliminated or modified. The following questions may be of help:
This section should be used to recommend to the Associate Editor what you believe the fate of this paper should be. This is not the place for a detailed review. The Associate Editor needs to know what your decision would be if you were the Associate Editor handling this manuscript. Please recommend one of the following actions: