The process of peer review and publication in the interactive scientific journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD) differs from traditional scientific journals. It is a two-stage process involving the scientific discussion forum Earth System Science Data Discussions (ESSDD), 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 papers published in ESSDD. 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 ESSD 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 ESSD.
Original manuscripts are submitted electronically and assigned to the topical editor covering the relevant subject areas (for details see finding an editor).
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. He can suggest technical corrections (typing errors, clarification of figures, etc.) before publication in ESSDD. 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 following publication in ESSDD.
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.
After final acceptance, the manuscript is published as a discussion paper on the ESSDD website. Public accessibility, archiving, and citability are guaranteed from this moment on (usually about 2–8 weeks after submission).
Upon online publication the paper is open for public review and discussion, during which interactive comments can be published by designated referees (anonymous or named) and all interested members of the scientific community (named). Normally, every discussion paper receives at least two referee comments. Authors are asked to take part in the discussion by posting author comments as response to referee comments and short comments of the scientific community. For more information see interactive public discussion.
After the open discussion the authors are expected to publish a response to all comments (within 4 weeks, can be extended upon request). The topical editor can also publish additional comments or recommendations. Normally, however, formal editorial recommendations and decisions shall be made only after the authors have had an opportunity to respond to all comments, or if they request editorial advice before responding.
Submission of a revised manuscript is expected only if the authors have satisfactorily addressed all comments, and if the revised manuscript meets the high quality standards of ESSD (review criteria). In case of doubt, the authors shall consult the topical editor on whether she/he recommends preparation and submission of a revised manuscript or not. Normally the revised manuscript should be submitted no later than 4 to 8 weeks after the end of the open discussion. If more time is required for manuscript revision, the authors can request an extension.
In view of the access peer review and interactive public discussion, the topical editor either directly accepts/rejects the revised manuscript for publication in ESSD or consults referees in the same way as during the completion of a traditional peer-review process. If necessary, additional revisions may be requested during peer-review completion until a final decision about acceptance/rejection for ESSD is reached.
In the case of acceptance, the final revised paper is typeset and proofread. Then it is published on the ESSD website with a direct link to the preceding original paper and interactive discussion in ESSDD. All publications (original 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 a 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 publication and discussion in ESSDD, they may also be published in ESSD if sufficiently substantial.
If a manuscript that has been published as a discussion paper in ESSDD is not accepted for publication as a final paper in ESSD, the authors have several options to proceed as outlined under frequently asked questions, point 7.
In the interactive public discussion following the publication of a paper in Earth System Science Data Discussions (ESSDD), the following types of interactive comments can be submitted for immediate non-peer-reviewed publication 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. published 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 ESSDD.
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 referees are asked to publish one or more referee comments, and every registered member of the scientific community may publish short comments as defined above. The authors of the discussion paper have the option (but no obligation) to reply by publishing 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 publication of comments in the interactive public discussion of their paper. Publication alert services will also be available to other members of the scientific community. The publication of interactive comments is 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 ESSD editorial board reserves the right to exclude abusive commentators.
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 publish 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. Before submitting a revised version of their manuscript for publication in ESSD (second stage of publication), the authors should have answered the referee comments and relevant short comments cumulatively or individually in one or more author comments. The author comments should be structured in a clear and easy-to-follow sequence: (1) comments from referees/public, (2) author's response, and (3) author's changes in manuscript. Regarding author's changes, a marked-up manuscript version (track changes in Word, latexdiff in LaTeX) converted into a *.pdf must be submitted, uploaded as a supplement to the author comment.