Instructions for Editors

Guidelines for Editors:

Careful editing is an important part of the species account publication process. Course instructors act as editors early in the account writing and research process. ADW staff editors determine whether an account is suitable for publication on ADW and make final edits and additions to content and text.

In order to edit an account you must be familiar with the ADW online taxon account template. Please review the template, including all keyword checkboxes and the directions given at the heading of each section. These directions are intended to clarify what kinds of content go in each section. Keywords also indicate what kinds of content should be included in a text box. Please also review the Instructions for Contributors, as this document outlines in more detail how taxon information is to be organized and formatted within the template.

Conditions for publication:

Taxon accounts are rejected for publication on ADW for the following reasons: lack of information or poor accuracy of information, poor quality of references, or plagiarism.

There should be some text/information in each section of the template. In some cases this information may be unavailable, such as information on animals that have not been extensively researched. If this is the case then it is the student's challenge to: 1) be certain that the information is truly lacking, 2) try to find something informative to say based on scientific knowledge of close relatives or attributes of the larger taxon to which the species belongs or, 3) write a short statement indicating that the information is not available. This can be as simple as saying: "There is little available information on reproduction in Malabar spiny dormice." Students also sometimes make the mistake of using information for the larger taxon, such as the family to which the species belongs, in place of specific information. This is particularly true of animals that are not well known. It is acceptable, if no information is available, to make a qualified statement such as: "Specific foraging behaviors of these animals have not been studied. However, foraging behaviors in their close relatives consist of . . .," but it is misleading to suggest that the features of close relatives are identical to the species in question. Please watch out for these kinds of mistakes. Many instructors have expertise in the group that their students are writing about and will be familiar with the amount of data available for particular taxa.

Keywords are NOT intended to replace text, they are primarily search tools. Therefore, if an animal is nocturnal (see Behavior section) it is not sufficient to check the nocturnal checkbox, this information must also appear in the text box. Conversely, all relevant keywords should be checked, regardless of whether the information is covered in the text.

Some sections, such as Ecosystem Roles are frequently neglected because students don't find attributes of animals labeled "ecosystem roles" in the literature. However, after having researched an animal, students should be able to come up with ways in which the animal interacts with the larger ecosystem to which it belongs. This involves synthesis of the information they have gathered and some extrapolation of what ecosystem roles might be. At the very least, animals act as predators and/or prey for other animals in the system.

Information used in accounts should be from reputable sources. We encourage students to search the primary literature for information on their animal species. Relying solely on web resources, unless they are high quality and frequently updated, is discouraged. Please check that the sources used to write an account are appropriate, that there are no relevant references that are obviously missing, and that there is a broad base of references. All information should not come from only one or several general sources.

Unfortunately, it's not uncommon that we encounter plagiarism in student accounts. It's possible that students don't understand how to use and cite resources properly, and the availability of text online makes it too easy to cut and paste information into ADW templates. Please direct them to our Instructions for Contributors for directions. We will now be actively looking for evidence of plagiarism in submitted accounts. Please see our Policy on Plagarism, students will be asked to read and sign this statement before submitting an account. As an editor, please be alert to changes in writing style and vocabulary throughout the account. It is also useful to go to the more prominent online sources and briefly compare their information to student text.

A few general style comments:

Scientific names should be italicized, students can find instructions on how to italicize text in the Instructions for Contributors.

We understand that ways of writing about animals, and animal groups, differ widely. In order to promote consistency within the site we use the following guidelines in writing about animals:

  • When you refer to a species by its scientific name, never put "the" in front of the name. For example, "The Canis lupus has eight pups per litter" (for example) should be written "*Canis lupus* has eight pups per litter." Also, it is not appropriate to use possessive forms of scientific names. For example, "*Blarina brevicauda's* teeth are tritubercular" should be written " The teeth of Blarina brevicauda are tritubercular."
  • Scientific names can be regarded as either singular or plural, so it would be equally correct to say "*Canis* lupus [has or have] eight pups per litter." Since taxonomic entities are considered evolutionary individuals, we generally prefer that scientific names be regarded as singular, such as "*Myotis keenii* is found in Pacific coastal forests. " However, if you disagree please just be sure to be consistent throughout the account -- either always use singular, or always use plural.
  • Common names should be pluralized, for example: "Laughing Gulls are omnivorous." To refer to "the Laughing Gull" implies that you are describing the qualities of a single animal, not the many animals that compose that species.
  • Always capitalize the generic (first) name; never capitalize the specific (second) name. For example:* Larus atricilla*, not Larus Atricilla.
  • Once you've referred to a species by its full scientific name, you can thenceforth abbreviate the genus, but don't begin a sentence with an abbreviation. For example, "Litter size in C. lupus is usually eight," but not "*C. lupus* has eight pups..."
  • Common names should not be capitalized except for proper names. For example: Stellar's sea lion, not Stellar's Sea Lion, and Caspian seal, not Caspian Seal.
  • When reporting measurements, such as "175 mm", always leave a space between the value (175) and the unit (mm). When indicating ranges of measurements it is preferable to use "to" rather than "-", as in "160 to 165 mm" instead of "160-165 mm".

Miscellaneous issues:

Check for factual errors!

Make sure that all measurements are metric.

Avoid abbreviations in descriptions, especially in the geographic range section. The ADW audience is global and abbreviations such as MI, CA, and etc. won't be informative.

Also, check that the student is describing the species throughout their range and is not focusing narrowly on only those populations found in the United States or North America.

Watch for "it's" in place of "its", a common problem in inexperienced writers.

Check any url's in the references to be certain that those links are still valid.

One final miscellaneous point: Adobe Acrobat does not recognize the kind of structured text that we use to italicize scientific names. If you are editing on a printed version of the account, please recognize that the scientific name surrounded by << . . .>> means that it will appear italicized online.

Thank you for helping to improve ADW site and content quality!