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Review and Editing Procedures

Instructions To Authors
By the Editor of Geophysics
Revised January 2006

Review and Editing Procedures

Legal status of papers in review
A paper submitted to Geophysics for publication is legally the property of the author until the copyright assignment is executed and received in Tulsa. This does not occur until shortly before the paper is accepted for publication. Until then, reviewers and other members of the editorial staff cannot legally use the paper for any purpose other than the review process. It may not be shown, copied for personal use, or commercialized in any way. In the interest of personal protection for Associate Editors and SEG, these guidelines should be followed, although no known instances of misuse of papers in review have occurred.

Peer review
If the SEG Editor or an Assistant Editor decides that a submitted manuscript is relevant for Geophysics, it is sent to an appropriate Associate Editor, who selects two or three knowledgeable, unbiased people to review the paper in detail. The reviewers send their comments to the Associate Editor, who forwards them, along with a recommendation, to an Assistant Editor. After considering the reviewers' comments and the Associate Editor's opinion and recommendation, the Editor or an Assistant Editor corresponds with the author. The Editor accepts, rejects, or requests modifications in the paper and sends the reviewers' and Associate Editor's comments to the author. (Reviewers are anonymous unless they choose to be identified.)

Because few papers are accepted for publication without author revisions, a second review is usually necessary (except in the case of Geophysics Letters, which will be discussed below). Depending on the extent of the revisions, the Associate Editor may check the changes or seek additional reviews. To keep Geophysics timely, the Editor, Assistant Editors, and Associate Editors ask reviewers to submit comments promptly. If a reviewer cannot meet this schedule or decides not to review a paper after its receipt, or in the Publications Department should be notified immediately.

Online peer review
Associate Editors invite reviewers via e-mail through the online peer review system. Manuscripts are distributed in PDF format through the system. Reviewers download the manuscript for review. In the online review form, reviewers will find electronic interfaces that closely match the paper forms they used in the past. There are also spaces for comments directed to the Associate Editor and the author(s). In addition, reviewers can upload separate documents for the Associate Editor and the author(s). If a reviewer’s comments include equations or figures, they must be uploaded as a separate document because the online review form cannot accommodate complex equations or figures.

Reviewers can create a PDF file bearing their annotations and upload it as a separate document. If the author’s paper was submitted in Word, reviewers can annotate it in Word and upload the annotated file. Alternatively, reviewers can use Adobe Acrobat editing tools for annotating an electronic copy of the manuscript and then upload that. Reviewers may choose to annotate a hard copy of the manuscript, scan it to a PDF, and then upload the PDF. If they lack the resources to scan a paper to PDF, they may annotate a hard copy of the manuscript and mail it to Sheral Danker or Judy Wall at the SEG Business Office. These annotated hard copies will be scanned and uploaded as separate documents to be viewed by Associate Editors and authors. Reviewers should use black ink and should write legibly when making annotations.

Reviewer's responsibilities
A reviewer has the following equally important responsibilities:

  • To evaluate the work's importance and relevance to geophysics. If the work is fundamental research, has the author clearly demonstrated why others in our community should find the results interesting? If the work is applied research or a case study, would readers learn anything from it? Case histories do not need to include new technology, but they should emphasize the impact the geophysical work had on a play, area, commodity, or technique. The impact determines the degree of reader interest and should weigh heavily in a reviewer's evaluation.
  • To critique scientific quality. Are the author's conclusions supported by the evidence presented? Were sound geophysical principles employed? Is previously published information presented as new material? Are there any flaws in the author's reasoning or mathematics? Was the experiment done carefully and with proper controls? Are all assumptions clearly stated?
  • To ensure that the material is communicated effectively and efficiently. Is the paper free of ambiguity? Are new concepts explained in sufficient detail? Are redundancies present? Does every part of the paper contribute to its theme? Are figures self-explanatory and well labeled? Are there large gaps in reasoning and mathematical developments? Are appendices needed?

    A reviewer is not expected to rewrite a paper that is poorly written and structured; that is the job of the author, with help from the editors. The reviewer should try to identify problem areas, especially those that are difficult to understand and in which the technical information is not communicated clearly. Comments such as "This paragraph is confusing," "This section seems out of place," or "Awkward style" are often appropriate. Whenever possible, reviewers should be specific in identifying what is confusing or questionable.
  • To provide constructive feedback to authors. Criticism offered objectively can result in effective revisions and consequently a worthwhile paper. Conversely, blunt and brutal statements of the same information may insult and discourage an author and result in the loss of a useful contribution. A paper should not be rejected solely because the reviewer does not agree with an author's conclusions, comments, or interpretation. Instead, the reviewer should list objections and ask the author to address them in the revision. The reviewer should refrain from derogatory comments and should make constructive suggestions to improve the paper.

Accepted manuscripts are edited by an Associate Editor, the reviewers, the Editor, and the copy editor. It is the common goal of these people to improve the effectiveness of communication between the author's work and the reader. It is never the intention to change the technical nature of the author's paper. The editing is intended to remove ambiguities in wording and generally to improve the clarity of meaning.

If extensive editing is required to achieve this goal, the edited manuscript will be returned to the author for review, to avoid the possibility that editing changed technical meaning. Manuscripts are also returned if they do not adhere to style guidelines or if editing of mathematics or references is extensive. Final approval by the author of such revisions is required before the paper is formatted for publication.

Galley proofs (the formatted paper as it will look in Geophysics) are e-mailed in PDF format to the author, a Special Editor, and the copy editor for review. Authors are advised to read the proofs carefully because that is their last opportunity to make changes. However, at that stage, changes by the author should be kept to a minimum. Costs associated with any rewriting of the paper will be billed to the author.

A link to order reprints is sent to authors electronically with galley proofs and is also available on the SEG Web site.

Discussions of a paper published in Geophysics are screened by an Associate Editor and then sent to the author of that paper for a reply. To avoid delaying publication, the author is requested not to include any subjects in his reply that are not addressed in the discussion. If no reply is received, the discussion will be published without one. Galley proofs are sent to the authors of the discussion and the reply.

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