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Guidelines for Referees

Thank you for agreeing to serve as a referee for the Annals of Statistics.

The job of a referee

Please carefully and promptly provide advice to the Associate Editor as to whether or not the paper should be published. The key criteria against which you should judge the paper are:

  1. Interest and importance and novelty as a scientific contribution. Papers should be novel and original in their field and should make an interesting contribution; there is inevitably an element of subjectivity in judging the interest of a paper, and we are confident that our referees have the ability to do this. Part of the case for the importance of a paper is its relation to the existing literature. Technical sophistication alone is not sufficient grounds for publication in the Annals of Statistics.
  2. Quality of writing and presentation. Papers should be well written and their material and achievements clearly presented. They should make proper reference to the existing literature and should have an accurate and appropriate bibliography. The introduction and abstract should give a good entry point into the paper. In judging quality of writing and presentation, please do not be concerned about minor linguistic errors of the kind likely to be incurred by authors whose first language is not English. We do not want to discriminate against such authors, and, in any case, all papers that are ultimately accepted are then copy-edited to correct linguistic errors.
  3. Technical correctness. Please do your best to check that the arguments of the paper are technically correct but remember that, ultimately, the responsibility for this rests with the authors.

What you are not expected to do

The categories of "Accept subject to major revision" and "Tentative reject" have been eliminated in order to speed up the review process. For this reason, you are not expected to rewrite the paper or to suggest major revisions or avenues for further research. Your role is simply to recommend whether or not the paper should be published. Inevitably this may mean that the Annals of Statistics may publish some papers that are less polished than may have been the case in the past, or contain some "loose ends", but by speeding the process we hope that we will more than compensate by publishing new and interesting work in a timely fashion.

Because this role differs somewhat from the traditional role of a referee for the Annals of Statistics, we hope that you will be able to provide a prompt assessment of the paper. Submitting a report within one month of receiving the paper will be especially appreciated by the editorial board and the authors. In any case, if you now find that you will not be able to submit a report within two months, please notify the Associate Editor immediately. In this latter case, any comments you can make, particularly regarding other possible referees, will be appreciated.

The refereeing system is anonymous, so please do not disclose your own identity as a referee or the identity of the Associate Editor. Manuscripts should be regarded as privileged and confidential.

Presenting your report

Your views and findings should be presented in two parts, an anonymous report suitable for sending to the author, and a recommendation and confidential comments for the Editors, which will be seen only by the Associate Editor and the Editors. The report for the authors should contain a reasonable rationale for your view of the paper as judged against the criteria above. It should be written constructively and politely but should not state your recommendation explicitly. The recommendation to the Editors must be one of the following:

  1. Accept (possibly subject to minor corrections). In this case authors may be asked to make some corrections or very minor revisions (set out in your comments for the author) prior to sending their final manuscript to the publisher. These should be of a nature that does not need to be checked again by an Editor or referee before the final version is accepted.
  2. Accept subject to minor revision. You should make this recommendation if you can see that the paper needs some revision before publication, but that you are confident that if the revisions are carried out correctly then the paper will be acceptable. The revisions may need to address presentational shortcomings, to make additional reference to the literature, to correct minor errors, to conduct very straightforward additional work, and so on, but overall they should not entail more than a week's work for the author. The revised version will need to be checked by the Associate Editor before the Editor's final decision is made. Please ensure that your comments for the author make clear what revisions are needed. If the paper falls short of acceptability because of the need for more major revision, it should be rejected.
  3. Reject. Please ensure that, taken together, your report for the author and any confidential comments for the Editor provide an explicit rationale for your recommendation.

Most published papers will not exceed 30 pages. Please provide in addition a recommendation whether part of the paper should be placed in the Supplementary Material archive of the Annals of Statistics.

Electronic submission of reports

Please submit your reports electronically through the EJMS system. The report for the authors should be uploaded to the system, preferably as a pdf file. The system will require you to select a recommendation for the Editors and will also allow you, if you wish, to include further confidential comments. You may need to register at the EJMS web site http://www.e-publications.org/ims/submission/.

For confidentiality issues please see Confidentiality and Electronic Documents.


The success of the Annals of Statistics depends on the willingness of referees to take the time to ensure the quality and importance of the papers published. We are extremely grateful for your assistance.


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