Manuscript Transmittal Procedures
Interim Review and Approval of Scientific Information Products
Purpose: To describe requirements for review and approval of "selected scientific information products" developed by USGS scientists at CRUs prior to public release, as well as procedures for obtaining approvals, and records management. This policy applies to all USGS CRU staff, wherever stationed.
Scientific information products covered by this interim policy:
(1) journal publications, including books and book chapters; and
(2) final technical reports
Bureau-level approval by the USGS Regional Approving Official (as currently delegated) is required of these products if they contain "new interpretive" scientific information, defined as material not previously published/disseminated and containing conclusions; summary statements for data or findings; tests of statistical hypotheses; discussion of significance or implications of the findings; synthesis of previous work by the authors or others; inferences; or statements arising from other forms of analysis.
(3) abstracts of posters and scientific presentations
Bureau-level approval is delegated to Unit Supervisors for abstracts and all products containing no new interpretive material (e.g., book reviews). Presentation materials themselves (slides, handouts) are not subject to this policy, and review and approval is at the discretion of the Unit Leader and Unit Supervisor.
Applicability: This policy applies if the information product is authored or coauthored by a USGS employee, irrespective of the funding source. When a USGS-funded project is administered through the Unit, but no USGS-CRU employee has authorship on the product, the USGS project cost center representative (not the Unit Leader) will have the lead in meeting Bureau peer review requirements.
Dissertations and theses - Dissertations and theses having sole authorship by university-affiliated graduate students are not subject to this interim policy. Dissertations and theses become subject to this interim policy when they are used as final reports to funding agencies for USGS (CRU) staff to meet contract requirements. Typically, in these cases, final reports even if based largely on graduate student research will show USGS staff coauthorship, and therefore meet the applicability standards identified above. Similarly, chapters from dissertations or theses will become subject to this policy when they are developed to be submitted for journal publication.
Responsibilities: CRU authors will be responsible for obtaining peer reviews and initiating the policy approval process for each information product. Policy reviews will be sequentially conducted by the Unit Leader, Unit Supervisor, and final Regional Approving Official as appropriate. Unit Leaders should review the documents for completeness, suitability of peer review, and policy implications. Unit Leaders should resolve any identified concerns with the author before materials are routed to the Unit Supervisor. The Supervisor certifies compliance with peer-review and policy requirements and routes the product for final USGS Regional Approving Official action when appropriate. Unit Supervisors will notify authors of final Bureau approval of products.
What to do: For a given information product, the package of materials should include: (1) the draft information product that has been revised per comments from two peer reviewers; (2) separate copies of peer reviewer comments either on the Manuscript track changes or on the PEER REVIEW FORM; abstracts will use the same form, but follow a simplified peer review analysis; (3) authors' reconciliation summary of the peer reviewer comments either on the Manuscript in track changes or on the PEER REVIEW FORM; and (4) for journal publications and final technical reports, the existing CRU MANUSCRIPT TRANSMITTAL FORM (attachment 2) documenting the authors', Unit Leader, and Unit Supervisor's certification of review and approval. All documentation and transmittal of materials should be handled through electronic mail.
Peer reviewers - Peer reviewers should be qualified based on their experience and expertise, without conflict of interest, and not associated with the work being performed (USGS Manual Chapter 502.3). Non-technical, administrative reviews provided by Cooperator representatives do not represent peer reviews.
Documentation and records management: Unit Leaders and Unit Supervisors are responsible for maintaining records sufficient to document the review process and outcomes. Unit Leaders should maintain a full set of records pertaining to each information product, including approval forms, peer review comments and author's reconciliation summary, revised manuscript, and copies of email or other correspondence related to policy approval of the product. The Unit files should include copies of the final published product and documentation of peer review comments and revisions that may have been part of the publisher's process leading to the final product. Unit Supervisors will maintain files that include copies of tracking forms and other materials judged pertinent to each case. Files at each Unit and by Supervisors should be maintained for a period of at least 5 years after dissemination of the information product (see: http://internal.usgs.gov/gio/irm/fmref2.html and http://www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/schedule/).
Non-advocacy and Disclaimers - Information products should not recommend or appear to advocate or prescribe a particular course of action and not include any disclaimers related to USGS standards of scientific quality and objectivity. Manuscripts describing the use of commercial products or trade marks need to have a disclaimer such as: "Mention of trade marks or commercial products does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government."
Bylines and Cooperator Acknowledgements - Bylines for authors employed by USGS should clearly indicate such employment status as: "U.S. Geological Survey" followed by the specific unit affiliation. All Cooperators of the particular Unit should be identified where the publication format allows, either in an Acknowledgments section or as a footnote.
Multiple USGS Authors - Where two or more USGS employees serve as co-authors on the same information product, one of the authors should take the lead with processing for Bureau approval. Copies of documentation of final approval should be maintained in official files of each USGS author.
APPENDIX - Relevant definitions
Fundamental Science Practices (FSPs) - a set of USGS policies issued in 2006 delineating agency requirements for the planning, conduct, review, documentation, and dissemination of scientific information and products (USGS Survey Manual Chapters 502.1, 502.2, 502.3, 502.4, 205.18, 1100.4 and other documents referenced therein). These policies address administrative procedures, approval authority, and documentation requirements for peer review, policy review, and editorial review of USGS information products. Refer to http://internal.cr.usgs.gov/fsp for pertinent USGS Manual Chapters, additional information, and responses to frequently asked questions.
Peer Review - ensures the scientific quality of USGS information. It is the scrutiny of work or ideas by peers who are qualified, without conflict of interest, and not associated with the work being performed. The peer review process includes obtaining review comments and recommendations from peers and incorporating their input into a revised information product.
Policy Review - ensures that requirements of FSP are met, identifies policy-sensitive issues including those that may have implications related to current policy, and assures compliance with non-advocacy policies. Policy reviews are provided by relevant USGS line managers. If an information product addresses a particularly sensitive issue, appropriate USGS and DOI officials will be consulted. Coordination and review by the Office of Communications may be sought in instances of policy-sensitive products or those that may warrant a communication strategy to manage their release. Such consultations, coordination, and review will be conducted by USGS line managers responsible for implementing FSP requirements.
Editorial Review - ensures that USGS standards for accuracy and clarity of expression are met. Editorial review is required only for information products that will be published in one of the internal publication series of USGS; it is optional for products published outside USGS. CRU authors should contact their Unit Leader and/or Unit Supervisor to arrange for editorial review of information products and full bureau approval prior to submittal for publicationin internal USGS publications.
FSP: Fundamental Science Practices
New process for documenting and "appointing" peer reviewers
Biology BAOs require that manuscript peer reviewers be "appointed" by next-in-line supervisors beforereviews are started. The term "appointed" is a technical term taken verbatim from the FSPs and is not open to debate. To achieve this "appointment", supervisors will document (to the best of their knowledge) the veracity and technical quality of proposed reviewers by reviewing a Peer Reviewer Qualification Form filled out by the primary (lead) CRU author. By filling out the Peer Reviewer Qualification Form, the lead CRU author is technically "nominating" qualified peer reviewers for the product. The form requires the author nominating the peer reviewers to address several key questions asked by BAOs in their review of peer reviewer qualifications and affiliations. The Peer Reviewer Qualification Form will be provided to each Unit. The completed form documenting the next-in-line supervisory approval (i.e., appointment) of reviewers, againbefore the review is started, becomes a part of the FSP product's permanent record.
The recommended process is as follows: authors nominate potential reviewers by filling out the form and submitting it to the next-in-line supervisor who will review the form data and determine if nominated reviewers are appropriate. Reviewer approval (appointed as a reviewer) or rejection will be indicated on the form and returned to the author as a record of supervisor selection of reviewers. The responsibility for distributing the product to reviewers and collecting and reconciling comments from reviewers remains solely that of the authors. Thus, Assistant Unit Leaders will complete the Peer Reviewer Qualification Form for all Assistant Unit Leader's products and submit it to their Unit Leader for review and approval. Unit Leaders authoring manuscripts/products will complete the Peer Reviewer Qualification Form and submit it to their Unit Supervisor for review and approval. Field Supervisors will work with Unit Leaders to determine the best process for reviewing peer reviewers to ensure consistency. No products will be forwarded to a BAOs unless they are accompanied by an approved Peer Reviewer Qualification. Field Supervisors will provide an electronic copy of the Peer Review Qualification Form to each Unit; the form will also be added to the online CRU Administrative Manual.