Reviewer Guide

The goal of the Surname DNA Journal review process is to determine as rapidly as possible if the conception, structure and presentation of the submission indicates that it is a legitimate work of science and genetic genealogy and does not contain any obvious methodological, ethical or legal violations.

Review Process

If the Editor feels you are a good candidate to review a particular article, the Editor will send an initial email inviting you to review a submission with a direct link to the draft article.  The email subject will read:   “Surname DNA Journal review invitation on (title)

You should respond to the invitation email at your earliest convenience to confirm or decline your interest in providing a review.   Ideally we would like to know whether you will provide a review within two days of the invitation.

Once logged in to your account, you should go to the Edit Article page for this submission, where you will be able to submit your review comments and provide a decision recommendation for this article.  Ideally, your comments should be finalized within eight (8) days of accepting the article for review.

  • The ‘View Article’ or ‘Preview’ buttons found at the top of the page will allow you to view the article itself, and provide access to a PDF version of the paper.
  • On the ‘Edit Article’ page, comments can be provided in the ‘Reviews’ text box which appears at the bottom of the page.  Please note that all review comments should be provided in the “Reviews” text field, and not the ‘Internal Comments” text field. Internal Comments are made available to all users with access to the submission, including authors.
  • The editorial recommendation (Accept, Revise, Reject) can be provided in the pull-down tab in the same box.

Review Content

Reviewers are the heart of the peer-review journal process and require both a keen eye and an encouraging tone.  A good way to approach your review comments is to consider the rhetorical question, “What will genetic genealogists think about this paper and my review of it 50 years in the future?

Your task as a Reviewer is to help the journal draft be the best article on the subject it can be within the constraints of the author’s time, data, and budget.

Reviewers will be anonymous to the author so that social awkwardness is avoided and the review can provide as an unbiased review.   But even though the author will not know the identity of the reviewer, a positive, forward-looking tone should be used when writing peer reviews.  “Imagine how you would feel if you had worked for many hours on a manuscript and got these review comments?

Potential Review Approaches

  1. Attempt to catch and correct typographical and mathematical errors.
  2. Logical Schisms. Point out conclusions not based on data, logic, or analysis of the author’s data.
  3. Suggest ways to improve readability so that potential readers are more likely to understand the author’s research and conclusions.
  4. Offer additional sources and references which may help the author with his subject.
  5. Compare and contrast the author’s work to related work in the same subject area.
  6. Replication.  Take the author’s raw data and try to recreate the analysis / output.
  7. Potential copyright or plagiarism concerns.

If there are elements in the author’s work that you don’t understand or approve of, try to focus your criticism on specific data elements, conclusions, or figures and provide the author with positive encouragement and inspiration to develop more information about your concerns.

Approaches To Avoid

Philosophers have said that new, revolutionary discoveries are not even possible until they are conceived and the status quo completely rejected.  A reviewer does not have to agree with the author.  Scientific experts can and do disagree.

With that perspective, in SurnameDNA Journal Reviewers are asked to avoid the following approaches in their reviews.

  • Making factual assertions or disputes with the author.
    e.g. everyone knows the Celts spoke Chinese and came from Antarctica.
    Instead, just point out one or two references which support an alternative view for consideration and encourage the author to use citations for the assertions that you do not concur with.
  • Personal criticism.
    e.g.  …the author is mean, green, and 8 feet tall
    All human beings do good and bad things.  This journal is only concerned with responsible research on Surnames and genetic genealogy and is open to anyone.
  • De-legitimizing the testing laboratory, the Author, the subject, or the work.
    e.g.  …the author has no right to write about music because he likes Abba and does not have a PhD in Composition.
    The author is entitled to write about and be interested in whatever subjects he or she chooses.  If a manuscript is not appropriate for SurnameDNA Journal, then the Editor would not have sent it out for review.
  • Revealing Confidential Information
    e.g. …I reviewed this article and tried to tell the author it stunk
    Review correspondence and comments should be treated as private by the Author and the Reviewers.  Likewise, human subjects deserve to have their privacy respected and not violated.  This applies not just on but to all forms of communication, message boards, and content.

More Information

Contact the Editor at if you have any questions regarding the review process or content for SurnameDNA Journal.

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