Office of Science Quality and Integrity

E.1 Peer-Reviewed Journal Submissions

E. Extended Guidance and Specific Products

 

 

E.1. Peer-Reviewed Journal Submissions

Peer-reviewed journal submissions require a minimum of two peer reviews, similar to all other USGS scientific information products released for outside publication. Other USGS reviews in addition to peer reviews may be required (refer to SM 502.4, section 4). However, one of two approaches can be considered for obtaining these peer reviews as described in SM 502.3, section 3.H.(2) and in FAQs E.1.2.a and E.1.2.a below. Regardless of the approach used, Bureau approval occurs after peer review reconciliation and before the reconciled manuscript is returned to the journal for possible acceptance.

The FAQs below help further clarify the FSP requirements and procedures for peer-reviewed journal submissions.

 

E.1.1. What is the FSP policy for submissions to an outside peer-reviewed journal that has its own peer review practices?

A minimum of one USGS initiated peer review and one peer review by the journal are required. Refer to SM 502.3 and SM 205.18 for additional information. All peer reviews, regardless of the source, and their associated reconciliations, must be included in the package submitted for Bureau approval.

 

E.1.2. What are the requirements for submitting manuscripts to peer-reviewed journals? What review and approval process should be followed?

Effective November 3, 2016, manuscripts authored or coauthored by USGS scientists and intended for publication in peer-reviewed journals may follow one of two approaches for the peer-review and approval process (as outlined below). The selection of approach is at the discretion of the Science Center Director as described in SM 502.3, section 3.H.(2).

 

E.1.2.a. Approach 1 - Manuscript receives two USGS-initiated peer reviews and Bureau approval before it is submitted to the journal for consideration.

  1. All USGS peer reviews and reconciliations and all associated documentation must be placed into the IPDS before Bureau approval. The IPDS documentation package is reviewed and approved and signed off by the supervisor and Center Director (in the IPDS); then the package is routed via the IPDS to the appropriate BAO for Bureau approval.

  2. After Bureau approval is received, the manuscript is submitted to the journal for consideration. In this approach, the peer reviews and reconciliations required by the journal are not part of the IPDS approval record.

  3. If substantial changes are made in the Bureau-approved manuscript as a result of the journal peer-review and editorial process, the author must consult with their supervisor, the Science Center Director, and their BAO to determine whether further review and approval is warranted. Examples of substantial changes would include, but not be limited to, new content that alters or affects the originally approved conclusions, inclusion of new interpretations, revisions that may have potential policy implications, and a total reorganization of the manuscript.

  4. After the manuscript has been published, a copy of the accepted manuscript must be placed in the IPDS and the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for the journal article must be added to the "Bibliodata" tab in the IPDS. Only after these steps are done should the Dissemination step be completed in the IPDS.

 

E.1.2.b Approach 2 - Manuscript receives at least one USGS-initiated peer review and at least one journal peer review to fulfill USGS minimum peer-review requirements. Additional peer reviews may be obtained at the discretion of the USGS and the journal.

  1. After supervisory approval in the IPDS to proceed with peer review, the manuscript may be submitted to the journal for consideration. The USGS-initiated peer review may be obtained either concurrently with or before the initial submission to the journal.

  2. All peer reviews and reconciliations and all associated documentation must be placed into the IPDS before Bureau approval. The IPDS documentation package is reviewed and approved and signed off by the supervisor and Center Director (in the IPDS); then the package is routed via the IPDS to the appropriate BAO for Bureau approval.

  3. Bureau approval must be received before returning the reconciled peer-reviewed manuscript to the journal.

  4. If substantial changes are made in the Bureau-approved manuscript as a result of the journal peer-review and editorial process, the author must consult with their supervisor, the Science Center Director, and their BAO to determine whether further review and approval is warranted. Examples of substantial changes would include, but not be limited to, new content that alters or affects the originally approved conclusions, inclusion of new interpretations, revisions that may have potential policy implications, and a total reorganization of the manuscript.

  5. After the manuscript has been published, a copy of the accepted manuscript must be placed in the IPDS and the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for the journal article must be added to the "Bibliodata" tab in the IPDS. Only after these steps are done should the Dissemination step be completed in the IPDS.

 

E.1.3. Can Science Centers obtain additional peer reviews in excess of those minimally required by the USGS to aid in strengthening the scientific veracity of a manuscript before submitting it to a journal?

Yes and the decision to obtain additional internal or USGS-initiated/coordinated peer reviews is at the discretion of the Science Center. Science Centers or authors may obtain any number of USGS-initiated peer reviews they deem necessary to strengthen the quality of a manuscript before submitting the manuscript to a journal. BAOs in the OSQI also have authority to require additional peer reviews. Likewise, the journal may obtain additional peer reviews at their discretion. These additional peer reviews (and author reconciliation) are included as part of the IPDS record.

 

E.1.4. How will BAOs check the journal peer reviews and the associated reconciliations?

The BAOs, when reviewing any peer reviews and reconciliations, check to ensure that FSP peer review requirements have been followed (refer to SM 502.3). The BAOs do not evaluate the merits of the science but will flag any obvious technical issues. Note that all peer reviews (including all USGS and journal reviews) and all reconciliations that occur before Bureau approval must be submitted as part of the approval package to the BAOs before any reconciliations are sent back to peer-reviewed journals.

 

E.1.5. How can authors manage the timing of Bureau approval to meet journal acceptance processes?

Bureau approval of USGS-authored products being published in peer-reviewed journals occurs after the authors have reconciled the peer-review comments but before the products are sent back to the journals for acceptance. The timing of Bureau approval is critical. Frequently, USGS authors believe that their journal articles must be accepted by the journal for publication before they can receive Bureau approval—this is an incorrect assumption. Once accepted, journals may quickly publish manuscripts prior to Bureau approval, resulting in violations of FSP policy and in-arrears situations.

 

E.1.6. What if a USGS coauthor finds out from the non-USGS lead author that the scientific information product has been accepted by the journal and will be published more quickly than expected?

To avoid these situations, it is crucial to discuss the USGS FSP process with all coauthors before a manuscript is sent to a journal. Supervisors, Center Directors, and BAOs can be informed to help in performing the review and approvals as quickly as possible; BAOs may be able to move the product up in their queues. Most importantly,  however, is for all authors of the manuscript as well as journal editors to be informed of the requirement for USGS Bureau approval before publication. All journal manuscripts that will be posted online as soon as they are received by the journal should follow the approval process used in Approach 1 (see FAQ E.1.2.a).

 

E.1.7. Is a nondisclosure disclaimer statement to peer reviewers required?

Yes. Manuscripts submitted for external peer review by any outside entity, including peer-reviewed journals, that have not received Bureau approval must carry the disclaimer statement about not disclosing or releasing the information being reviewed (refer to SM 502.3). The disclaimer statement to be used (also found on Guidance on Disclaimer Statements Allowed in USGS Science Information Products) is "This draft manuscript is distributed solely for purposes of scientific peer review. Its content is deliberative and predecisional, so it must not be disclosed or released by reviewers. Because the manuscript has not yet been approved for publication by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), it does not represent any official USGS finding or policy." This statement must appear on the title page of the manuscript (at the bottom or in the footer of the page) at a minimum but may also be included on all pages. The author needs to ensure this statement is deleted before the product is published and before the accepted manuscript is placed in the IPDS.

 

E.1.8. If a Bureau-approved manuscript is rejected for publication by one journal and is then submitted to another journal, does the manuscript have to go back to the BAO for approval?

No, not necessarily. If a manuscript has received Bureau approval and is subsequently not published by the journal to which it was submitted, the author may resubmit the Bureau-approved manuscript to another peer-reviewed journal. It is the author's responsibility and obligation to inform their supervisor, the Center Director, and the BAO if any substantial revisions (for example, those that affect any of the scholarly conclusions or that have new policy implications) are made during the subsequent review and revision process of the journal so it can be determined if further review and approval is warranted (refer to SM 502.4, section 7.G).

 

E.1.9. What is the peer-review and approval process for a manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal as a book review, comment or reply, or manuscript for a special issue wherein the journal does not provide peer review?

USGS FSP policy requires a minimum of two peer reviews for these product types. If the peer-reviewed journal does not provide peer review for the given type of submission, then the author must follow Approach 1. Two USGS-initiated peer reviews must be obtained and reconciled, the manuscript must be revised, and these components must be uploaded to the IPDS. The IPDS documentation package then must be reviewed and approved by the supervisor and Center Director and subsequently routed to the BAO for Bureau approval before any submission to the journal.

 

E.1.10. Does editorial review by the journal editor count as a peer review?

Maybe. In cases where the journal editor evaluates or critiques the science, that is, the editor peer reviews the manuscript (as described in SM 502.3, section 4.B), the review may be counted as a peer review and as such must be reconciled by the author. In cases where the journal editor's review is editorial in nature only (refer to SM 1100.2) and no peer review is provided by the journal, an additional USGS-initiated peer review must be provided to meet the requirement for a minimum of two peer reviews.

 

E.1.11. Why must the accepted manuscript be placed in the IPDS after it is published by the journal?

The IPDS serves as an archive for short-term, temporary records. In the event the journal does not provide free public access after a 12-month embargo period, the accepted manuscript that is placed in the IPDS can be provided to the public through the USGS Publications Warehouse. This will ensure the USGS meets the OSTP public access requirement for federally funded research (refer to SM 502.4, section 6.D).

 

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