A Comment is written in response to a paper published in an AMS journal and should be submitted within 2 years of the publication date of the original paper (this limit can be waived by the Chief Editor/Chair of Editorial Board in extenuating circumstances). The author of the original paper has the opportunity to write a Reply. These exchanges are published together and directly linked to the paper to which they are written in response. Comments must cite the paper they are commenting on.
In many cases, Comments are handled by the Chief Editor/Chair of Editorial Board or the handling Editor of the original paper. The Chief Editor/Chair of Editorial Board may also choose to assign the Comment to a different handling Editor.
The handling Editors for Comment and Replies in AMS journals and BAMS are expected to uphold the quality standards of publication as well as to minimize the risk of confusion or ad hominem criticisms that can result from multiple rounds of back and forth between the Comment and Reply authors.
An overview of the process is as follows:
- The handling Editor first determines whether the Comment is appropriate. “Appropriateness” is deliberately left up to the handling Editor to define, but includes ensuring the Comment is significant and that it doesn’t include ad hominem criticism. The handling Editor can invite reviewer(s) to help make this initial determination. If the Comment undergoes peer review, the reviewer(s) should provide feedback on:
- the value of the Comment as an addition to published literature on the subject;
- the value of the Comment as a corrective to or extension of the original paper;
- the scope of the Comment (it should be focused on relevant commentary on the original paper, not as an avenue for new research or unnecessary digression);
- the appropriateness of the tone (such as frankness, civility, or reasonableness) of the Comment for scientific discourse; and
- the existence of flaws or misrepresentations in the Comment, including those of logic, attribution, or evidence.
- If the handling Editor determines that the Comment is not appropriate, they can reject it on those grounds without further review.
- If the handling Editor determines that the Comment is appropriate, the corresponding author of the original paper is sent the Comment and invited to submit a Reply. This author is given 60 days to prepare a Reply or to decide not to Reply. If they decide not to Reply, the Comment can be sent to reviewers and then published or rejected without a Reply.
- If the corresponding author of the original paper submits a Reply, it is then sent to the Comment author, who can withdraw the Comment (in which case neither the Comment nor the Reply would be published), revise the Comment within 30 days, or leave the Comment unchanged.
- If the Comment is revised, it is sent to the Reply author, who then has the opportunity to revise the Reply within 30 days. Many handling editors stipulate that the exchange will end at this point to avoid endless back and forth.
- At any point in the process:
- the handling Editor can decide to invite reviewers to review both the Comment and Reply;
- authors may withdraw their Comment or Reply (a withdrawn Reply does not prevent the publication of the Comment); and
- the handling Editor may reject either the Comment or Reply (rejection of the Reply does not prevent publication of the Comment).
- After the process is complete, the handling Editor decides whether the Comment and Reply exchange is worthy of publication.