Instructions for Authors
About The Chat
These instructions for authors provide information that you should know when submitting a manuscript for publication. The Chat is an ornithological journal, and its format and editorial procedures are those of a scientific publication. However, much of The Chat is written by amateurs—by interested birders, trained scientists and amateurs alike. So don't let our procedures sound intimidating; we want your contributions! If you have questions or need assistance with any part of the process, don't hesitate to ask.
Manuscripts submitted for publication generally fall into one of three categories: Articles, Reports, and General Field Notes. Articles tend to be longer than General Field Notes and generally report the results of a year or more of study. Articles may also include major summaries of existing records, such as a distribution summary of a species or an accounting of birds in a particular location. Reports are generally recurring items such as reports of annual bird counts and annual reports of the Bird Records Committees of the two states. General Field Notes are shorter, usually involving a single or limited number of observations. Documentation of a rare sighting, unusual behavior, or significant nesting record; or a brief summary of several observations are typical topics of General Field Notes. The highest priority manuscripts for General Field Notes concern details of first through fourth accepted records of a given species in the state, first photographically documented records for the state, or first nesting records for the state.
All manuscripts should be sent to the Editor, currently Don Seriff. If the Editor determines that the manuscript falls into the General Field Note category, he will forward it to the appropriate General Field Notes editor for editing. Articles and Reports are edited by the Editor.
Preferably, submit your manuscript via e-mail attachment. A mailed CD-ROM or diskette or even hard copy can also be accepted, but electronic format is much preferred.
The Chat for the most part follows the guidelines of Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 6th ed., Cambridge University Press, 1994. A list of some specific points of style, including some exceptions to CBE recommendations, is available in a separate document, Style Guidelines for The Chat.
A special case: The Carolina Bird Club requests that sightings of rare birds be submitted to the appropriate state's Bird Records Committee for review. However we also request that details of rare sightings be written up for publication in The Chat. Acceptance by the Bird Records Committee establishes that your report has been reviewed by experts, and adds the species to the official state list, if it is new; while publication in The Chat provides a permanent public record of your observation. So if you've seen a rare bird, which do you write first, the rare bird report for the Bird Records Committee, or the General Field Note for The Chat? The situation could be argued either way, and has led to some unfortunate misunderstandings, so it has been necessary to write up a rather formal policy on it. In brief, the policy is that first, second, or third sightings of a species in either state must be submitted to the appropriate Bird Records Committee prior to publication in The Chat.
Review Process for Articles and General Field Notes
The appropriate editor will determine whether the topic and treatment are potentially appropriate for The Chat and, if so, review the manuscript or have it peer reviewed by one or more outside reviewers. All papers published as Articles (but not Reports) are sent for outside review. Whether a General Field Note is reviewed by someone other than the General Field Notes Editor is within the discretion of that editor.
Reviewers will keep the manuscript confidential and will make specific comments on the paper's suitability for publication; i.e. its scientific soundness, interest to readers of The Chat, and style of presentation. You should expect some changes to be suggested (or required) by the reviewers. Once the review process is complete, written comments or a marked copy of the manuscript will be sent to you by the editor showing the proposed changes. Outside reviewers may remain anonymous.
Briefs for the Files
Briefs for the Files are a summary of noteworthy bird observations, compiled and reviewed by Ricky Davis. All Carolina birders are invited to submit sightings to Ricky, according to the criteria published at the beginning of the Briefs for the Files section. Ricky is always glad to help you decide whether to go beyond submitting a sighting for Briefs for the Files and write it up as a General Field Note.
The Chat will also publish reviews of books or other media of particular interest to birders in the Carolinas. When publishers provide review copies to the editor, reviews will be invited. Contributed reviews are invited too; check with the editor if there is a book that you would like to review.
Don Seriff, Editor