What to Expect During the Revision Process

Thank you for volunteering to work on a Birds of the World (BOW) species account! We aim to make BOW the singular source for the collected biology of all birds of the world. This dynamic platform is made possible by merging two of the Cornell Lab’s flagship publications, Birds of North America (BNA) and Neotropical Birds (NB), with content from the renowned Handbook of the Birds of the World and Bird Families of the World, originally published by Lynx Edicions. Birds of the World will be supported with real-time data from eBird and multimedia from the renowned Macaulay Library (which now houses material originally archived at Internet Bird Collection.

Our ultimate goal is to generate authoritative and complete species accounts for each of the roughly 10,700 species of birds in the world. This document will review the basics of preparing a revised species account, with guidance on content, style, and format. All account revisions are expected to follow these guidelines closely for consistency, clarity, and efficiency.

Types of revisions

A full revision will involve assessment of the entire account with updates across as many sections as appropriate commensurate with the publications on the species’ biology

    Authors should aim to do an exhaustive literature search and populate text and references into as many of the pages, sections, and subsections as possible.

A partial revision does not involve an update of the entire account. Examples of partial revisions include revisions to update systematics/taxonomy, additional information from one or a few publications, a large-scale update of media (e.g., range maps, images, media captions, sounds, video), and/or revision of one or more sections by a specialist, or BOW editor.

  • Authors should focus on parsing out the existing HBW text, writing an Introduction (if missing), and adding a selection of references and supporting text that encompasses the most salient aspects of that species’ biology. Authors may choose to do multiple partial revisions, and thus, build towards a full revision through several intermediate partial revisions. When such an approach is taken, the first partial revision should give priority to the most outdated content, and/or the author’s area of special expertise.

Typos, minor corrections or clarifications, and limited replacement/addition of media (e.g., several images or a small image gallery), do not constitute a partial revision.

Revision workflow

To begin a revision, you will need to inform the BOW managing editor of the names (first, last, middle initial(s)), emails, and usernames of all parties involved with the revision (hereafter “authors”). If you will be revising with coauthors, you should discuss author order and contribution amongst yourselves. For more details on authorship, see Policies and Procedures Regarding Authorship of BOW Species Accounts.

Once you have organized the authors who will be involved with your revision, BOW editors will grant you “author access” to a draft account for your species that you will be able to revise on the BOW website without your changes becoming publicly viewable. Where applicable, this draft will contain text imported from the source materials listed above (BNA, NB, and HBW). You and/or your team should combine, edit, or remove this text, as you add your own new text and references to the account

When you have completed your revision, you will change the status of all of your account’s sections from “Draft” to “Editor Review.” BOW editors will then review the account and may request clarification, formatting, or additional content. BOW editors will also add media (images, sounds, figures) and captions, and fully edit and link the account as necessary. Once that is done, you will have one week of Author Review to make any final changes to the account before it is considered to be ready to publish. Please endeavor to provide any final feedback you might have within this time period; once it has elapsed, the account may be published whether or not BOW editors have final confirmation from you.

Revision timeline

Revisions go through four stages before they are published:

  • Draft: authors revise and add content. Please correspond with the managing editor for any questions, updates, or concerns
  • Editor Review: BOW editors review the completed draft and add media. You will receive a review summary from a scientific editor with comments and changes.
  • Author Review: authors respond to BOW editor’s comments and review the completed account with all media.
  • Final: BOW editors look over the author’s final changes and then publish the account.

Typically, BOW urges authors to complete the draft stage of their revision in 1 month (for partial revisions), or 3 months (for full revisions); however, the revision timeline will also reflect the constraints faced by the authors and BOW editors and the nature of the revision. In some cases, completing a full revision for a well-studied species may take 6 months or more.

If a revision will exceed the suggested timeline, authors should communicate with BOW editors early and often. BOW endeavors to provide flexibility when it comes to the timing of revisions; however, in some cases (e.g., time-sensitive taxonomy updates, or if the progress on a revision is overly slow and/or BOW staff are not able to communicate with the author(s)) the revision may be completed by BOW staff or others appointed by BOW editors.

Authorship and contributions to a revision

BOW authors do not receive financial compensation for their work, although they do receive gratis access to BOW.

Policies and procedures regarding authorship of revisions to BOW species accounts are described in detail in Policies and Procedures Regarding Authorship of BOW Species Accounts. It is assumed that authors have read and abide by these policies and have signed the BOW contributor agreement before beginning their revision.

Since each BOW account is derived from one or more source publications, the original authors associated with each source account will be retained in the BOW citation inasmuch as the content they authored is still included in that version of the BOW account and justifies coauthorship (see Policies and Procedures Regarding Authorship of BOW Species Accounts for details).

When authors agree to take on a BOW revision, the team should agree in advance: 1) which author will take lead on coordinating the revision effort, 2) what each author will contribute to the revision, and 3) come to an agreement regarding order of authorship. Normally, the sequence of authors should reflect the relative (cumulative) contribution of each author to the revision, although a different sequence can be suggested by the authors if they agree among themselves. In the event of a disagreement on the order of authorship, the ultimate decision will rest with the BOW editors.

In most cases, names of the authors of the current revision will be listed first in the citation, followed by names of all authors associated with the source material who were not involved in the current revision (in the same sequence as in that previous revision), and so on back to the original print version author(s).

If an account combines material from more than one original source, the authors associated with the BNA account will be listed first, followed by authors associated with the NB account, followed by authors associated with the HBW account.

BOW staff and contributors can handle several elements of an account, which authors will have the opportunity to review. These are:

  • Distribution Map
  • Photo Gallery and captions
  • Video Gallery and captions (when applicable)
  • Inclusion of Breeding Bird Survey result figures (when applicable)
  • Appearance (Detailed Description, Plumages, Molts, Bare Parts)
  • Systematics

Generally, the work of these contributors is acknowledged, either in the form of a statement in the Acknowledgments section, or authorship for the page level (see Policies and Procedures Regarding Authorship of BOW Species Accounts for further details), but does not merit account-level authorship. If the authors feel that a contributor’s work merits account-level authorship, they may suggest it to BOW editors.

It is expected that authors will review all contributions to the account prior to the account’s publication. If authors DO NOT want to use the work of BOW contributors, we ask that they communicate with BOW editors at the start of the revision process.