Journal cover Journal topic
SOIL An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic

Interactive Public Peer ReviewTM

Peer Review

  1. 1. Submission
  2. 2. Access review
  3. 3. Technical corrections
  4. 4. MS posted in SOILD forum
  5. 5. Comments
  6. 6. Final response
  7. 7. Post-discussion editor decision
  8. 8. Revision
  9. 9. Peer-review completion
  10. 10. Final revised publication

The process of peer review and publication in the interactive scientific journal SOIL differs from traditional scientific journals. It is a two-stage process involving the scientific discussion forum SOIL Discussions (SOILD), and it has been designed to utilize the full potential of the Internet to foster scientific discussion and enable rapid publication of scientific papers.

Initial access review by competent editors assures the basic scientific and technical quality of manuscripts posted in SOILD. Subsequent interactive discussion and public commenting by the referees, authors, and other members of the scientific community is expected to enhance quality control for papers published in SOIL beyond the limits of the traditional closed peer review. Also in cases where no additional comments from the scientific community are received, a full peer-review process in the traditional sense, albeit in a more transparent way, is assured before publication of a paper in SOIL.

Steps of the SOIL process of peer review, publication, and interactive public discussion

  1. Submission of original manuscript and editor assignment

    Original manuscripts are submitted electronically and assigned to the topical editor covering the relevant subject areas (for details see finding an editor).

  2. Access review

    The topical editor is asked to evaluate whether the manuscript is within the scope of the journal and whether it meets a basic scientific quality. They can suggest technical corrections (typing errors, clarification of figures, etc.) before posting in SOILD. Further requests for revision of the scientific contents are not permitted at this stage of the review process but shall be expressed in the interactive discussion.

  3. Technical corrections

    The authors have the opportunity to perform technical corrections, which may be reviewed by the topical editor to verify requested corrections and prevent further revisions, which are not permitted at this stage.

  4. Open discussion (6 weeks)

    After acceptance of the manuscript for public peer review, it appears as discussion paper (preprint) in SOILD and is citable through DOI. The discussion phase represents a unique opportunity to engage in an iterative and developmental reflective process. During this phase interactive comments can be posted by designated referees (anonymous or named) and all interested members of the scientific community (named). All participants are encouraged to stimulate further deliberation rather than simply to defend their position. This enhancement lead process is offered to maximize the impact of the article. Normally, every discussion paper receives at least two referee comments. Authors are invited to take an active role in the debate by posting author comments as a response to referee comments and short comments of the scientific community as soon as possible in order to stimulate further discussion by interested scientists. For more information see interactive public discussion.

  5. Final response and peer-review completion

    After the open discussion, the authors are expected to publish a response to all comments within four weeks, in case they have not done so during the open discussion. Based on the responses, the topical editor either invites the authors to submit a revised manuscript or the topical editor and executive editor directly reject the manuscript. If necessary the topical editor may also consult referees in the same way as during the completion of a traditional peer-review process.

  6. Publication of final revised paper in SOIL

    In the case of acceptance, the final revised paper is typeset and proofread. Then it is published on the SOIL website with a direct link to the preceding discussion paper and interactive discussion in SOILD. In addition, all referee and topical editor reports, the authors' response, as well as the different manuscript versions of the peer-review completion will be published. All publications (discussion paper, interactive comments, final revised paper) are permanently archived and remain accessible to the open public via the Internet, and final revised papers are also available as print copies.

The timing indicated above is a guideline which may have to be modified according to the availability and response times of editors, referees, and authors.

The submission of comments and replies which continue the discussion of scientific papers beyond the limits of immediate interactive discussion is encouraged. Such peer-reviewed comments undergo the same process of peer review and publication as described above: after appearance and discussion in SOILD, they may also be published in SOIL if sufficiently substantial.

If a manuscript that has been posted as a discussion paper in SOILD is not accepted for publication as a final paper in SOIL, the authors have several options to proceed as outlined under frequently asked questions, point 6. For further information on the definition and standing of discussion papers, please read the EGU Position Statement on the Status of Discussion Papers Published in EGU Interactive Open Access Journals.

Types of interactive comments 

In the interactive public discussion in SOILD, the following types of interactive comments can be submitted for immediate non-peer-reviewed appearance alongside the discussion paper:

Short comments (SCs) can be posted by any registered member of the scientific community (free online registration). Such comments are attributed, i.e. posted under the name of the commentator.

Referee comments (RCs) can only be posted by the referees involved in the peer review of the discussion paper. They can be anonymous or attributed (according to the referee's preference).

Editor comments (ECs) can only be posted by the topical editor of the discussion paper.

Author comments (ACs) can only be posted by the contact author of the discussion paper on behalf of all co-authors.

All interactive comments are fully citable, paginated, and archived as a supplement to SOILD.

Figures and supplements 

Comments can be composed by using either plain text or LaTeX formatting. Complex content without LaTeX commands can be uploaded as a *.pdf file and will be displayed as a supplement to the comment. In both cases, figures can directly be included in the comment.

The two phases of the interactive public discussion 

Phase 1: open discussion (6 weeks)

The referees are asked to post one or more referee comments, and every registered member of the scientific community may post short comments as defined above. The authors of the discussion paper have the option (but no obligation) to reply by posting their own short comments individually, or by posting author comments collectively on behalf of all co-authors. The authors of a discussion paper are automatically informed via email about the appearance of comments in the interactive public discussion of their paper. Alert services will also be available to other members of the scientific community. The interactive comments are supervised by the topical editors, who have the option of censoring comments that are not of substantial nature or of direct relevance to the issues raised in the discussion paper or which contain personal insults. Authors are advised to follow the discussion of their paper and to notify the topical editor in case of abusive comments. The SOIL editorial board reserves the right to exclude abusive commentators.

Phase 2: final response

After the open discussion, no more short comments and referee comments can be accepted. However, the contact author and the topical editor of the discussion paper have the opportunity to post final author comments and editor comments, respectively. The final response phase is generally limited to 4 weeks (can be extended to 8 weeks) and automatically terminated upon upload of at least one author comment, although further author and editor comments can be posted, if appropriate. The authors are supposed to answer the referee comments and relevant short comments cumulatively or individually in one or more author comments. Based on the response, the topical editor either directly accepts or rejects the manuscript for final publication in SOIL, or he or she asks the authors for further revisions.

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