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Guidelines for Members of Book Series Editorial Committees

To guide the decision-making process

The book series of the American Mathematical Society are managed by AMS staff. The content of each series is overseen by an editorial Committee appointed by the Society. The Society values the editorial independence of its publications and its editors. Nonetheless, the Society has endorsed these guidelines for editors as part of its effort to ensure that all authors are treated with respect and that each of the Society's book series maintains a high reputation.

A. General

Primary responsibility for the evaluation of projects within an AMS book series resides with its Editorial Committee. In carrying out this responsibility, the committee should recommend for publication only those proposals that may result in a book that is appropriate for the AMS Book Program and makes a valuable contribution to the existing literature.

B. Criteria for Recommending Publication

Although specific criteria for recommending publication of a book in a particular AMS book series may differ by series, the following general criteria should be universally applied:

1. Books should represent a valuable addition to existing research, monographs, textbooks, or general literature on mathematics and its applications;

2. Books should be appropriate for the series in terms of content, style, and size;

3. Books should be of interest to an appreciable number of readers;

4. Books should be well written and should contain a series-appropriate level of detail and clarity.

C. Functions Performed by Editorial Committees

1. Book projects are normally brought to the committee by a member of the AMS staff. Editorial Committee members should respond to each project within a short period of time, usually within one week.  

2. Submissions that the committee can judge without detailed review as unsuitable for AMS publication should be declined in a timely fashion, if possible within a month of submission of the manuscript. 

3. Submissions that are judged suitable for publication should be reviewed, either by external reviewers (in the majority of cases) or by members of the Editorial Committee. Editorial Committee members suggest potential reviewers, and then the committee chooses the reviewers from among the suggestions made by committee members and by the AMS staff. 

4. Unless other arrangements are agreed upon for a specific manuscript, AMS staff is charged with communications with the authors and with the reviewers, as well as with maintaining records of submission dates and other transactions. 

5. Editorial Committee members will receive copies of the reviewers’ reports. The members should deliberate upon the submitted project, using the reviewers’ reports, the manuscript, and any other supporting material as a basis for consideration. This discussion should be concluded within 1-2 weeks. 

6. Upon conclusion of its discussion, the committee will reach a decision on the manuscript. Each committee may adopt its own procedure for making a decision, but in all cases at least half of the committee must be in agreement. Possible decisions include:

a. Accept;

b. Accept, subject to suggested revisions of the text;

c. Reject, but invite resubmission of a thoroughly revised manuscript;

d. Reject, but recommend for consideration by the Editorial Committee of another AMS book series;

e. Reject;

f. Continue consideration, possibly soliciting additional reviews. 

7. Communication about and discussions of projects under consideration by the Editorial Committee should normally be conducted by the full membership of the committee, primarily through the email alias for the series. In special circumstances, such as a conflict of interest by a committee member, alternative means of communication will be used. 

D. Conclusion

The goal of these guidelines is to ensure that the editorial process for AMS book series is carried out thoroughly and efficiently, and that editors maintain regular contact with the AMS staff throughout the process. It is expected that in the majority of cases a decision by the Editorial Committee will be reached and communicated to the author within 2-3 months of the original submission of the proposal.

Appendix

Editors for book series of the American Mathematical Society are expected to follow the Society’s ethical guidelines [www.ams.org/secretary/ethics.html], treating all potential authors with reasonable professional courtesy, responding promptly to submissions and making decisions based on the merit of the manuscript as well as its suitability to the book series. Neither an Editorial Committee nor the AMS is obliged, however, to provide a rationale for rejecting a manuscript, nor is an Editorial  Committee or the AMS obliged to provide an author with a detailed list of errors and corrections. When information is available which may assist an author in improving a manuscript, whether it is accepted or not, the AMS should communicate that information to the author whenever possible.

These Guidelines, including the Appendix, were adopted by the AMS Council in January 2010.