Office of Science Quality and Integrity

B. Publication Review

  1. How does USGS define peer review and what are the FSP peer review requirements?
  2. Can supervisors and/or managers serve as peer reviewers for information products authored by employees they supervise and vice versa?
  3. What are the recordkeeping requirements for peer review comments, peer review reconciliation, and draft documents associated with a given USGS information product?
  4. What are the OMB requirements for peer review of influential products?
  5. What are the categories of “Open Access” journals and what are the FSP peer review requirements for these products?
  6. What are the editing requirements for USGS science information products?
  7. How does the USGS comply with the OMB requirements for scientific information quality and peer review?
  8. Are there any provisions for expedited peer review and Bureau approval?
  9. If there is a difference of opinion between an author and her/his chain of command in regard to adequacy of response to peer review or in regard to scientific/technical interpretation, what are the options/avenues available to the author?

 

B.1. How does USGS define peer review and what are the FSP peer review requirements?

USGS defines peer review (also referred to as technical peer review, refereeing, colleague review, or scientific peer review) as scrutiny of work or ideas by colleagues (peers) who are well qualified and who are of equal standing with one another. Peer reviews are rigorous, thorough evaluations of the technical quality and validity of the research design, methods, and conclusions. In the scientific field, the implication is that education and/or experience qualify one to comment on the work of others in a particular field of expertise. Qualified peer reviewers of USGS scientific information products must have no stake in the outcome of the review or publication of the work, are not associated with the work being performed, and are without conflict of interest. The FSP requirements for peer review of USGS science information products are found in SM 502.3.
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B.2. Can supervisors and/or managers serve as peer reviewers for information products authored by employees they supervise and vice versa?

No. For all USGS science information products an author and his/her supervisor are not allowed to serve as peer reviewers for one another, regardless of any collegial relationship or the expertise of either because doing so could be perceived as a conflict of interest. This prohibition includes all products released in USGS publication series and all products released in outside publications.
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B.3. What are the recordkeeping requirements for peer review comments, peer review reconciliation, and draft documents associated with a given USGS information product?

Peer review comments and peer review reconciliation documents, like manuscripts and other draft documents related to developing a final scientific information product, are considered part of the official "review and approval record" for that scientific information product and must follow the National Archives and Records Administration-approved recordkeeping schedule requirements found in the USGS General Records Disposition Schedule (GRDS), Chapter 1300. These short-term, temporary records must be retained by the Bureau for 3 years after publishing or until they are no longer needed for reference, whichever is later; then they may be destroyed. GRDS, Chapter 1300 allows employees to maintain these short-term, temporary records in one of two ways: as paper copies retained at the Science Center originating office (for sensitive or confidential documentation) or digitally in the Information Product Data System.
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B.4. What are the OMB requirements for peer review of influential products?

The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review requires public posting of documentation about the planning and conducting of peer review for those information products that Federal agencies have designated as influential scientific information or highly influential scientific assessments (terms defined by the OMB). The Bureau complies with this OMB requirement with the documentation that is posted on the public USGS Peer Review Agenda web site.

  • The term "influential scientific information" means scientific information the agency reasonably can determine will have or does have a clear and substantial impact on important public policies or private sector decisions.
  • A scientific assessment is considered "highly influential" if the agency determines that the dissemination could have a potential impact of more than $500 million in any one year on either the public or private sector or that the dissemination is novel, controversial, or precedent-setting, or has significant interagency interest.

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B.5. What are the categories of “Open Access” journals and what are the FSP peer review requirements for these products?

There are two categories of open-access journals; distinction is based on the peer review process used. In Category 1, the journal peer review process is characterized by anonymous peer reviews and draft manuscripts that are not available to the public. For this category, use the USGS approval process for peer-reviewed journal articles. In Category 2, the journal peer review process is characterized by having peer reviews of draft manuscripts open to the public. For this category, two USGS-initiated peer reviews and Bureau approval are required before sending the manuscript to the journal. Note that if substantive changes are made after approval it is the author’s responsibility to obtain additional review by the approving official (SM 502.4).
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B.6. What are the editing requirements for USGS science information products?

Editing of USGS publication series scientific information products is required as detailed in SM 1100.2 and must be coordinated or performed by USGS SPN staff located in the various Publishing Service Centers (PSCs). Editors in the SPN are available to provide editorial review for other science information products as well, including outside publications and web pages, for which editing is recommended but optional. For more information, contact your local PSC Chief.
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B.7. How does the USGS comply with the OMB requirements for scientific information quality and peer review?

The USGS Information Quality Guidelines website and the USGS Peer Review Agenda website, help authors comply with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements regarding scientific information quality and peer review of influential products.
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B.8. Are there any provisions for expedited peer review and Bureau approval?

If it is anticipated that a scientific information product will need to be handled in an expedited manner, the author and (or) Science Center Manager should inform the BAO as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made for expedited approval. Expedited peer reviews should be arranged within the Science Center when the peer reviewers are selected.
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B.9. If there is a difference of opinion between an author and her/his chain of command in regard to adequacy of response to peer review or in regard to scientific/technical interpretation, what are the options/avenues available to the author?

If there is a dispute between the author and her/his supervisor, Center Director, or others in her/his chain of command regarding the adequacy of peer review or scientific/technical interpretation, the author may contact the Director or Deputy Director of the OSQI for assistance with the resolution of the differences. The integrity of the USGS science is closely tied to the integrity of the scientific process. The OSQI is charged to monitor and enhance the integrity, quality, and health of USGS science. The OSQI will work with the author and others involved to find a suitable way to resolve the dispute. The author may also contact the FSP Advisory Committee (FSPAC; gs_fspac@usgs.gov) for advice. Emails sent to this address will reach all members of the FSPAC.
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