The process of peer-review and publication in the interactive scientific journal Ocean Science (OS) differs from traditional scientific journals. It is a two-stage process involving the scientific discussion forum Ocean Science Discussions (OSD), and it has been designed to use 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 for papers published in OSD. 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 OS 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, but in a more transparent way, is assured before publication of a paper in OS.
The individual steps of the OS process of peer-review, publication and interactive discussion are described below, and complementary illustrations are given in the following Flow Chart .
Interactive Public Discussion
In the Interactive Public Discussion following the publication of a paper in Ocean Science Discussions (OSD), the following types of interactive comments can be submitted for immediate non-peer-reviewed publication alongside the discussion paper:
Short Comments (SC) 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 (RC) 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 (EC) can only be posted by the Topic Editor of the discussion paper.
Author Comments (AC) 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 OSD.
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 any case, figures can directly be included in the comment.
The Interactive Public Discussion comprises two Phases
Phase 1: Open Discussion (8 weeks)
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 by e-mail 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 Topic Editors, who have the option of censoring comments that are not of a substantial nature and 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 Topic Editor in case of abusive commenting. The OS editorial board reserves the right to exclude abusive commentators.
Phase 2: Final Response
After the open discussion no more Short Comments and Referee Comments are accepted, but the contact author and the Topic 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 (expandable 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 OS (second stage of publication), the authors are supposed to 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, (3) author's changes in manuscript. Regarding author's changes, it is recommended to provide a marked-up manuscript version (track changes in Word, latexdiff in LaTeX) converted into *.pdf and to upload this changes document as supplement to the Author Comment.