News Story

Editorial Review Guidelines



26 June, 2015

Sarah Spaulding


One reviewer from the diatomist community will critique each taxon page before it becomes visible to the public. Reviewers will provide constructive reviews, given in the spirit to help the contributor include taxonomic information to make a complete and accurate taxon page. These guidelines are available to both contributors and reviewers so that the expectation for taxon pages is clear. Elements of the review include:

  • NOMENCLATURE. The complete and correct full scientific name should appear. SYNONYMS should include common objective synonyms. The REPORTED AS section is established for showing references in which the name is incorrectly used, but that analysts may be familiar with. For example, see the page for Thalassiosira lacustris and the REPORTED AS names.

  • OBSERVATIONS. The written observations should be based on US specimens. Confirm that the crucial dimensions are accurate. Determine if the important morphological features are clearly described. Are the key features that define the taxon included? Confirm that valve shape, crucial dimensions, features of the striae, features of the raphe, and chloroplast features are present.

Include notes on the specimens illustrated and how they compare to the range of variation of the taxon in North America.

Include important nomenclatural history, for example, if the taxon has been treated differently in Europe. See Aulacoseira ambigua and A. granulata for excellent examples of the observation section.

Include additional notes on taxa, or names, confused with this taxon.

  • IMAGES. Is the taxon in the images correctly identified? Has the author used a species concept consist with the project? Are the images of good quality and cover the species morphological range?

  • IMAGE METADATA. Check that the metadata for images is complete. The information for each image should include site name, site ID, lat, long, and notes. One of the requirements is that the images are from slides in public herbaria. Note that reviewers accessing the site with the “secret URL”, that is, not logging in, will not be able to view the image metadata.

  • GUIDE. The “guide” is the composite image and numbered points that appear to the right. This section is one of the most important parts of the page. It is the place where the expert informs users on how to distinguish this species from similar species. The GUIDE includes the image “diatom bird guide image”, numbered guide points and guide text. The numbered text, ideally, should be in order of the key diagnostic features of the taxon. Note that the diagnostic features are not a repeat of the observations section, but the features that are crucial in separating from closely related taxa. The points are of a distinct grammatical form - begin with capital letter, no verbs, with short diagnostic elements. Each numbered “GUIDE POINT” is a single structure (i.e. raphe straight, not raphe straight and striae radiate) so that it can be marked with a number and arrow in the composite image. The GUIDE TEXT that follows gives clarification of the short points in complete sentences, with any needed clarification or description of features that are difficult to state in a brief phrase. Do the numbered guide points correspond to the features that define the taxon and separate it from others? As with the COMPARE section, below, the GUIDE is a section that needs to be updated as taxon pages refer to on another.

  • COMPARE. The “compare” text gives a brief, clear, and concise explanation of how to dististinguish this taxon from to similar taxa. Evaluate if the list of closely related taxa is complete, or can any be omitted? Note that as the number of taxa increase, this is a section that needs to be updated across taxa that “refer” to one another.

  • ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION. This section is based on the original type description and illustration. In some cases, the original description may be ambiguous (Ehrenberg, Kützing) and further work would be necessary to establish the type. We will not let such cases prevent opening of the page. In other cases, the original description may not be a “convincing match”. The OBSERVATIONS text should note that potential discrepancy, but these cases should be considered for opening of the page.

  • AUTECOLOGY. Does this section include a brief summary paragraph describing the taxon’s distribution, typical habitat, basic water quality parameters, life habits, common species that it is associated with? Is an image showing live cells or a representative habitat included?

  • EDITORIAL STYLE. Sentences should begin with the genus name spelled completely, not as an abbreviation.

  • CITATIONS. Are relevant citations included? Is the author and date accurate?

  • LINKS. Do the links to INA, GENBANK and CAS correct (do they work and go to the right place)? (Note that CAS has changed their URLs many times and we are scrambling to keep the links current).

NOTES ON TERMINOLOGY – Terms applied to a particular genus are established by the contributor working on that genus and from the literature. We are working toward including the definition of terms and their alternates in the glossary – it is a work in progress. It would be nice to have an established terminology, but in reality, it is in flux. Some examples of terms and their use that have been discussed since the start of the project are listed below. Members of the Editorial Review Board are encouraged to edit text on pages to reflect the use below. We welcome feedback on usage and suggestions for improvement.

Symmetric and asymmetric, rather than symmetrical and asymmetrical

Ends, rather than endings (i.e. proximal raphe ends)

Voigt discontinuity, rather than Voigt fault

Areolae, rather than puncta

Fibulae, rather than keel puncta

Lineolate striae, rather than lineate striae

Punctate striae

Fascia, rather than stauros

Helictoglossae, rather than terminal nodules

Primary side, but not primary ribs

Terminal raphe fissures

Hood, rather than cavum

Rimmed depression, rather than hufeisen

Rimoportula, rather than labiate process

Fultoportula, rather than strutted process

Produced, rather than drawn out