Standards and Expectations of FWS

Freshwater Science (FWS) publishes articles that will promote further understanding of organisms and processes in aquatic ecosystems. In keeping with the current interests of most Society members, emphasis is on freshwater inland habitats. However, papers on aspects of estuarine and marine science that address ecological processes and properties shared with freshwater systems are encouraged. The editors welcome a wide range of topics, including: physical and chemical properties of lentic and lotic habitats; ecosystem processes; community structure and function; linkages within freshwater aquatic systems and between freshwater and terrestrial or marine systems; ecology and systematics of organisms, from bacteria to benthic-feeding vertebrates; bioassessment, conservation, and restoration; environmental management and pollution; and methods for basic or applied work. Submissions can range from full-length treatments to short papers. Short papers should tell a complete story and be supported by data. Theoretical discussions and critical appraisals of rapidly developing research fields also will be considered. Reviews, meta-analyses, perspectives, and book reviews are welcome.


  1. The objective of FWS is to provide reliable and stimulating scientific information. To achieve this goal, the editors ask referees to use their highest scientific standards when assessing manuscripts.
  2. All manuscripts are screened by the Associate Editor before seeking peer review. In consultation with the Editor, manuscripts that are extremely poorly prepared, report obviously flawed research, or are outside the scope of the journal will be rejected without peer review.
  3. In fairness to authors and to maintain the reputation of the journal, referees are asked to respond promptly. If a manuscript cannot be reviewed within the agreed period (usually 4–6 weeks of receipt), please notify the Associate Editor immediately.
  4. All manuscripts and reviews are privileged information. Please do not use an author’s ideas or data without permission; please do not share the manuscript or reviews with others without the express permission of the Editor.
  5. Reviews should be provided in two parts.

    • The first should consist of a confidential recommendation to the Associate Editor regarding suitability of the manuscript for publication in FWS and a summary of the key reasons for the recommendation.
    • The second should consist of comprehensive, frank, and constructive comments for the authors. Comments in this section of the review should not directly state the referee’s opinion regarding suitability for publication in FWS but should provide enough detail and information to the author to support the referee’s confidential recommendation to the Associate Editor. Comments for authors should guide revision, if necessary, by explicitly identifying sections in need of clarification, condensation, expansion, justification, etc. Comments for authors are anonymous unless the referee chooses to sign the review.
  6. In the event of a potential conflict of interest created by a review request, the referee should present the potential conflict to the Associate Editor or Editor for consideration and resolution.
  7. Articles published in FWS should make a substantial contribution to the broad field of benthological science either by contributing new knowledge or insights, improving understanding of the mechanisms or processes underlying patterns or phenomena, synthesizing existing knowledge, or showing how existing knowledge/understanding can be applied to improve environmental stewardship. The journal supports scholarly communications that are grounded in science rather than advocacy. Original research and hypotheses examined should be well developed and complete. Preliminary, partial, or pilot studies usually are inappropriate for FWS.

    • Articles can range from full-length treatments to short papers. Short papers should tell a complete story.
    • Theoretical discussions and critical appraisals of rapidly developing research fields are appropriate, as are reviews and meta-analyses.
    • Simple observations of natural history or distributions are welcome if their implications are stimulating or unusual. Natural history papers and purely descriptive/correlative studies that are narrow in scope or that are unlikely to be of interest to an international readership usually are not appropriate.
    • Methods papers should improve efficiency, accuracy, or precision in convenient or convincing ways. In most cases, methods papers should include the results of comparative studies that clearly demonstrate the improvement.
    • All data, whether descriptive, distributional, or experimental should be subjected to appropriate statistical analyses. Wherever possible, quantitative results should be accompanied by estimates of uncertainty, using appropriate statistical methods.
    • Statistical or mathematical papers should include a clear narrative description to supplement any equations or models.
    • Papers should be clear, concise, and well organized. Referees should comment especially on papers that present valuable data, but are poorly written or excessively long.