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Ecology (research)

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  • 1. EcologyEstablished in 1920, Ecology publishes research and synthesis papers on all aspects of ecology,with particular emphasis on papers that develop new concepts in ecology, that test ecologicaltheory, or that lead to an increased appreciation for the diversity of ecological phenomena.Theoretical, analytical, experimental, empirical, historical, and descriptive approaches are allappropriate, though preference is given to research and synthesis that leads to generalizationspotentially applicable to other species, populations, communities, or ecosystems. Included withinthe journal are papers on physiological responses of individual organisms to their biotic andabiotic environments, ecological genetics and evolution, the structure and dynamics ofpopulations, interactions among individuals of the same or different species, the behavior ofindividuals and groups of organisms, the organization of biological communities, landscapeecology, and ecosystems processes. Papers reporting ecological research on all kinds oforganisms and ecosystems are welcome. New methodologies with a potential for broad use inecology are also of interest. Papers that are well grounded in ecological theory and have broadimplications for environmental policy or resource management may be well suited forpublication in Ecological Applications, but are also welcome in Ecology if they meet the generalcriteria described above.Papers must be original and not be work previously published in the primary literature. This doesnot mean that reanalysis, interpretation, or assessment of published data is in any way excludedfrom our journals. Some forms of prior gray literature publication are acceptable, and thedecision rests with the judgment of the Subject-matter editors. We will consider for reviewmanuscripts that concisely describe interesting science, and we do not discriminate againstdissertation or thesis research. However, we do not republish dissertations per se, and mostdissertation/thesis chapters require considerable editing and pruning before they are appropriatefor our journals. In nearly all cases, dissertations are readily available, and the raw data, methods,and other detail can form a basis for citation. The Subject matter editor makes the judgmentabout issues of novelty in manuscripts.Types of contributionsEcologyEcology is publishing more concise papers than has been the tradition for this journal. Concisepublications yield increased interest, allow a greater number of papers and topics to appear in thejournal, and provide greater content per page printed. The number and average length of Articlespublished in Ecology is decreasing, and the number of Reports is increasing. Many publications
  • 2. conceived in the past as Articles will hence forth be cast as Reports, with an average length of 5-6 printed pages (one printed page equals roughly 3.5 manuscript pages, inclusive of tables andfigures). Our goal is to publish Reports within one year of submission. Articles and Concepts andSynthesis papers will continue to be published in Ecology, but these will be shorter than theaverage Article of the past. Authors will designate portions of their manuscript as digitalsupplements to appear in the Ecological Archives and be directly linked to the publication in theon-line version of the journal.Length limits with respect to manuscripts refer to all pages, including cover page, text, literaturecited, tables and figures. Each figure will count as one page. Generally 3.5 pages of the double-spaced manuscript correspond to one printed page.Final decisions on article types are at the discretion of the Managing Editor. (i) Paperssubmitted/accepted as Reports, or Notes, but which require more than 8.0 printed pages in thefinal version, will be published as Articles. (ii) Papers submitted/accepted as Ecology Articles,but which occupy fewer than 6.0 pages when typeset will be published as Notes. (iii) Articles,Concepts, and Perspectives papers longer than 15.0 printed pages will be published inEcological Monographs.Reports. Reports are expected to disclose new and exciting work in a concise format. Thesepapers should present results that substantially advance a field or overturn existing ideas.Accordingly, these papers will be given a prominent place near the start of the issue. We expectthat these will be the first papers readers turn to and that most readers will study at least theabstracts of all of them. To assure that the contents are timely, and to encourage submission offast-breaking material, all submissions to the Reports section will be given a special fast-trackfor processing and publication. Our target is a rapid editorial decision and publication within fivemonths of acceptance.As added incentives for authors to cast their submissions in the concise Reports format: All Reports will be Open Access (i.e., one need not be a subscriber or have institutional access in order to view full text online). There will be no charge for color figures to authors of Reports.By making the Reports more accessible and visually appealing, we hope to increase ourreadership and cement Ecology’s reputation as the place where authors publish the mostimportant and exciting research findings in our science.In order to assure rapid publication, papers must conform to a strict page limit and format.Submissions may contain up to 20 manuscript pages (double-spaced, 12-point font, including
  • 3. everything from Title Page through the last figure). The abstract can have a maximum of 200words.Statistical Reports. The primary goal of Statistical Reports is to increase the awareness and useof modern statistical techniques in the analysis of ecological data. Thus, Statistical Reportsshould be concise papers that illustrate how well-established, unfamiliar, or new statisticaltechniques can be applied to timely and interesting ecological questions. Statistical Reportsshould extend the boundaries of statistical methods and techniques normally used by ecologists,and should be presented in a way that promotes the continued evolution of good statisticalpractice by ecologists. To encourage the broadest use by ecologists of methods and techniquespublished in Statistical Reports, all data and statistical code referred to in a Statistical Reportmust be archived in Ecological Archives. Like other Reports, review and publication ofStatistical Reports will be expedited. While we are maintaining the Statistical Reportsdesignation in order to encourage submissions of this type of paper, accepted papers will not bepublished in a separate section. Rather, Statistical Reports will simply be published in theReports section, with all the benefits noted above. Same length limits as for Reports.Notes (same length limits as Reports). Notes are short papers that present significant newobservations and methodological advances. Notes may contain results that are not sufficientlyelaborated or developed as to justify an Article, but which are still of considerable potentialsignificance.Articles. While a Report is a concise scientific statement on a single simple topic, an Article tellsa more complicated story with distinct components. The greater length of Articles relative toReports must be justified by their greater complexity. We are asking authors to submit shorter,better-organized pieces that make use of Ecological Archives for digital publication ofappendices and supplements.The target length for Articles is 20-30 manuscript pages (double-spaced, 12-point font, including everything from Title Page through the last figure). LongerArticles (those between 30 and 50 manuscript pages) should be accompanied by a detailedjustification for the length in the cover letter at the time of submission. The abstract can have amaximum of 350 words. Manuscripts longer than 50 pages may be considered for EcologicalMonographs, at the editors discretion.Concepts & Synthesis. The Concepts and Synthesis section publishes papers that conceptuallyadvance the field of ecology, including reviews that lead to a more synthetic overview of asubfield. These papers are expected to go well beyond works being reviewed and includediscussion of new directions, new syntheses, and resolutions of old questions.Small groups ofpapers will also be considered. Same length limits as for Articles. Longer papers of this typeshould be submitted to Ecological Monographs.Special Features & Forums. Special Features & Forums. Special Features are intended toaddress various aspects of a theme that is likely to be of broad interest to ecologists. Ideally, afeature should teach a large audience about an unfamiliar topic or an area in which there hasbeen considerable recent progress, or it should cause the audience to re-examine an issue that is
  • 4. not as settled as most have presumed. Proposals for Special Features should be addressed to theEditor-in-Chief. Special instructions are available for Special Features.A Forum can take a number of forms but always includes a series of commentaries solicited froma number of experts. These commentaries represent personal responses to a paper (or papers)considered to be of very broad interest and significance within the field of appliedecology. Special instructions are available for Forums.Comments and Replies (up to 5 journal pages). A Comment points out errors of fact orinterpretation in an article that previously appeared in a published issue (not merely a preprint) ofEcology, Ecological Monographs, or in an important article or book that is the basis fornumerous articles being published in ESA journals. Submissions must contain no more than 16manuscript pages. Be sure to refer to the special procedures which have been established forpreparation and review of comments and responses to comments. No abstract is necessary.Data Papers (abstract up to 350 words). Data Papers should emphasize the collection,organization, synthesis, and thorough documentation of data sets of ecological value. Only theabstract appears in Ecology; the data and metadata are available through Ecological Archives. Byproviding a peer-review process for such Data Papers, ESA hopes to provide a high-profile outletfor data compilations and recognition for ecologists who create them. Special instructions forData Papers explain how to prepare data and metadata.Perspectives. This section, prominently featured at the beginning of the issue, is intended tocontain papers that provide synthetic overview, critical commentary, or historical perspective,primarily by eminent ecologists. The MacArthur Award lectures will be published in this section.Often these will be invited papers, but proposals for submitting a Perspectives paper will beconsidered. Such proposals should be sent to the Editor-in-Chief. Note that coauthored papersare not appropriate for this section.GUIDELINES FOR REVIEWERSEcology, Ecological Applications, Ecological MonographsQuality peer reviews are essential for insuring the quality of scholarly journals. Your evaluationwill play a major role in our decision as to whether to accept a manuscript for publication. Weplace a great deal of trust in you. We trust you to be prompt, fair, respectful of the rights of theauthors, respectful of our obligations to the readership, and to evaluate the manuscript carefullyand in depth. At the same time, on behalf of the ESA membership, we are very grateful for thetime and effort you invest in the review process.Please be aware that Ecology has moved to tighter, shorter articles than has been the case in thepast. As we have made this transition, many articles have been rejected without review becausethey were too long to fit in the current look of the journal. The article you are reviewing may
  • 5. have been previously rejected because it was longer than 30 pages (including absolutelyeverything except that which is destined for the digital Ecological Archives), and has now beenshortened in the resubmission.ConfidentialityThis manuscript is a privileged communication. Please do not show it to anyone or discuss it,except to solicit assistance with a technical point. If you feel a colleague is more qualified thanyou to review the paper, do not pass the manuscript on to that person without first requestingpermission to do so. Your review and your recommendation should also be consideredconfidential.Conflicts of InterestIf you feel you might have difficulty writing an objective review, please return the paperimmediately, unreviewed. If your previous or present connection with the author(s) or an authorsinstitution might be construed as creating a conflict of interest, but no actual conflict exists,please discuss this issue in your confidential comments to the editor. If in doubt, feel free tocontact the Subject-matter Editor who requested your review.Comments for the AuthorIdentify the major contributions of the paper. What are its major strengths and weaknesses, andits suitability for publication? Please include both general and specific comments bearing onthese questions, and emphasize your most significant points.General Comments should address the following:•Importance and interest to this journals readers• Scientific soundness• Originality• Degree to which conclusions are supported• Organization and clarity• Cohesiveness of argument• Length relative to information content• Whether material should be moved to the digital appendices• Conciseness and writing style
  • 6. • Appropriateness for the targeted journal and specific section of the journalSpecific Comments:Support your general comments, positive or negative, with specific evidence. Remember that areview lacking substance will generally have less impact than a review that is well-reasoned andrich in content. You may write directly on the manuscript (or embed comments in a digital copyof the manuscript), but please summarize your remarks in "Comments for the Author(s)."Comment on any of the following matters that significantly affected your judgment of the paper:1. Presentation -- Does the paper tell a cohesive story? Is a tightly reasoned argument evidentthroughout the paper? Where does the paper wander from this argument? Do the title, abstract,key words, introduction, and conclusions accurately and consistently reflect the major point(s) ofthe paper? Is the writing concise, easy to follow, interesting?2. Length -- What portions of the paper should be expanded(?), condensed(?), combined(?), anddeleted? (Please dont advise an overall shortening by X%. Be specific!)3. Methods -- Are they appropriate(?), current(?), and described clearly enough(?) that the workcould be repeated by someone else?4. Data presentation -- When results are stated in the text of the paper, can you easily verifythem by examining tables and figures? Are any of the results counterintuitive? Are all tables andfigures necessary(?), clearly labeled(?), well planned(?), and readily interpretable?5. Statistical design and analyses -- Are they appropriate and correct? Can the reader readilydiscern which measurements or observations are independent of which other measurements orobservations? Are replicates correctly identified? Are significance statements justified? Forfurther advice, consult our Guidelines for Statistical Analysis and Data Presentation.6. Errors -- Point out any errors in technique, fact, calculation, interpretation, or style. (For stylewe follow the "CBE Style Manual, Fifth Edition," and the ASTM Standard E380- 93, "StandardPractice for Use of the International System of Units." - An abbreviated version may bedownloaded from the ASTM website.)7. Citations -- Are all (and only) pertinent references cited? Are they provided for all assertionsof fact not supported by the data in this paper?8. Overlap -- Does this paper report data or conclusions already published or in press? If so,please provide details.Fairness and objectivity
  • 7. If the research reported in this paper is flawed, criticize the science, not the scientist. Harshwords in a review will cause the reader to doubt your objectivity; as a result, your criticisms willbe rejected, even if they are correct! Comments directed to the author should convince the authorthat (1) you have read the entire paper carefully, (2) your criticisms are objective and correct, arenot merely differences of opinion, and are intended to help the author improve his or her paper,and (3) you are qualified to provide an expert opinion about the research reported in this paper. Ifyou fail to win the authors respect and appreciation, much of your effort will have been wasted.AnonymityYou may sign your review if you wish. If you choose to remain anonymous, avoid comments tothe authors that might serve as clues to your identity, and be careful about annotating themanuscript (see below). Unless you indicate otherwise (such as by signing your remarks for theauthors), we will assume you wish to remain anonymous.Annotating the manuscriptIF YOU WISH TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS and want to make comments directly on the pdfwith the Note tool, you will need to be sure you remove your identity from the propertiesBEFORE adding your comments.IF YOU WISH TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS and use track changes in Word, you must first(before putting in the comments!) remove your identity by going to the Tools/Options/UserInformation. (In Word 2007 go to Review/Track Changes/Change User Name.) You can restoreit after saving and sending the document. (This is not necessary if you tell us that you choose towaive your anonymity.)

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