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Mathematical Reviews
Guide For Reviewers

Mathematical Reviews
Reviewer Data Services Phone: (734) 996-5259
416 Fourth St. Email: mathrev@ams.org
Ann Arbor, MI 48103 URL: www.ams.org/mr-database
USA YouTube: An Introduction to Mathematical Reviews

Updated December 2013

The Mathematical Reviews Database

The Mathematical Reviews (MR) Database contains bibliographic data and reviews of published mathematical research from 1940 to the present. Bibliographic data for new publications (including journal articles, books, collections and other published material) are added to the Database on an ongoing basis.  Most of these items are sent out for peer review, or are reviewed by summary.

Information in the MR Database is published electronically in MathSciNet. For more information see the Editorial Statement.

The content of a review

What is a review? A review should primarily help the reader decide whether or not to read the original item. The review may range in length from a few lines to about 600 words. In most cases the review should state the main results, together with sufficient information to make them comprehensible to someone already familiar with the field. The main ideas of the proof should be sketched when feasible. If the results are technical, requiring extensive notation or elaborate formulas, it is preferable to describe them with a few well-chosen and relatively nontechnical sentences. A review should also contain comments that provide some background for the item, evaluate it and connect it to related items or approaches. Well written reviews are most desirable since the lasting value of Mathematical Reviews/MathSciNet as a research tool lies in its independent third-party reviews.

If you find that you are unable to write a review for a particular item for whatever reason (e.g., inappropriate field, time constraints, conflict of interest, etc.), please return it as soon as possible so that it may be reassigned.  When you return an item, it will greatly help us to avoid errors in future assignments if you provide a brief reason why you returned the item. Instruction on transfers is provided below under Reviewing Schedules.  Also, if you are receiving a large number of items outside your interest you might wish to reconsider you reviewing preferences.  How to do this is also described below under Miscellaneous.

Two other treatments of items are possible, but should be used sparingly. You may recommend that the item be listed without a published review, or you may recommend that the author's summary be used as the review. If you decide to recommend one of these options, simply put your request in the Review text box (e.g., "Publish without a review", or "Use the summary as my review"). However, in most cases, the mathematics community would prefer an insightful review to either of these two treatments.

References. Reviewers are encouraged to include references to closely related work. Because we try to verify each reference, you should give as much information as possible, including full author name, title of the cited item, year of publication, journal name (or book or video publisher), volume number and paging. Please include the MR Number if possible. References in the correct format, including the MR Number, can often be found using MRef. References to items in the MR Database will become active links in your review in MathSciNet. However, no special formatting is required when you submit your review, as each reference is checked for accuracy and reformatted during the editing process.

Evaluative reviews. Your review may include a positive or negative evaluation of the item. Critical remarks should be objective, precise, documented and expressed in good taste. Vague criticism offends authors and fails to enlighten the reader. If you conclude that the item duplicates earlier work, you must cite specific references. If you believe there is in error in the item, please describe it precisely in your review and provide evidence validating your claim (e.g., a counterexample, an exact reference which supports your assertion, or an indication where the error arises in the paper). You should bear in mind that the MR Database does not include author responses to critical reviews.

Book reviews. Important new books deserve careful reviews. We understand that such a review takes time to prepare. However, a good review does not need to be very long; fewer than 600 words are often sufficient. You should try to limit your review to a maximum of 1500 words. A detailed review is sometimes appropriate even if the book contains few new results; for example, if it is an expository survey of a field in which there is considerable interest, many readers will use your review to determine whether to consult the book. The same is true of expository articles.

Reviewing schedules

Time for reviewing. Your promptness in returning reviews can significantly improve the timeliness of the MR Database. It is expected that you will spend no more than six weeks completing the review of an item. We understand that this may not be sufficient time, depending on the length and complexity of the item and your other commitments. It is understood that reviewers holding multiple items will require additional time to complete the reviews. If you are receiving too many items, or too many at one time, please let us know.

Reminder notices. If you have held an item for about two months, a first reminder will be sent to you. If you receive a reminder notice and you decide that you cannot finish the reviews of some of the items that you have, please let us know immediately. MR will transfer the items to another reviewer. Books must be returned to MR.

Transfer of items. We may send you an item in an inappropriate field or language.  We may send you more items than you can conveniently handle at one time, because of other demands on your time. You may feel that you cannot be objective reviewing the work of someone in close "proximity" to yourself, such as a close colleague or a spouse. (Asking an author or co-author of an item to write a review of that item is always an error on our part.) In cases like these, please inform MR as soon as possible for transfer to another reviewer. No explanation is necessary; however, the editors always find it useful if you can provide a short explanation and we appreciate your suggestions of alternative reviewers.  If the item is a book, please return the book.

Transfer to a colleague. If you feel that a particular item could be better handled by one of your colleagues, you may transfer it to that person even if he or she is not a regular reviewer for Mathematical Reviews. If you do so, please let us know at once, giving the complete name and address of your colleague so that we may record the transfer in our files.

Becoming inactive. At your request, we can make you "inactive" as a reviewer and stop sending you items for review until a fixed date, or until you tell us that you are ready to review again. Such a request should be sent to our Reviewer Data Services Department (mathrev@ams.org).

Review format

Reviews are submitted using MR Reviewer Home. Once you sign in you will be connected to all your reviewer data.

Format for electronically submitted reviews. LaTeX is the typesetting language used in the MR Database. However, if your review does not contain mathematical symbols, knowledge of LaTeX is not required to submit your review electronically. Many reviewers find that knowing simple LaTeX such as $x$ and $x^2$ is sufficient. Click here for MR Reviewer Home. Once you Sign In to MR Reviewer Home, you will be connected with your reviewer profile, including all the review items for which you have not yet submitted a review.

Accuracy. Ambiguities in the manuscript or notational complexities can lead to the introduction of errors during the editorial process. We strive to keep such errors to a minimum, but we need your help.  Please submit your reviews in final form. Always proofread your review before submitting it.  This is especially important if someone else has keyboarded the final copy of your review. MR Reviewer Home offers you a PDF preview that you can proofread for accuracy, including the accuracy of your LaTeX encoding.

Languages. Reviews must be written in English.When reviewing an item written in a language other than English, if you propose that we use an unedited summary as the review there is no need to translate it.

Subject classification of reviews. The data submission page on MR Reviewer Home asks for your suggestions for the 5-character classifications of the item being reviewed, according to the Mathematics Subject Classification (MSC). We value your suggestions, especially in completing partial classifications and correcting errors, because you will have read the item more carefully and possess more expertise than the editors.

Miscellaneous

Change of name or address. Please inform our Reviewer Data Services Department (mathrev@ams.org) at once of any change in your address (paper or email) or name. This will prevent the loss of review material and will save time and money.

Reviewing preferences. When you first became a reviewer, you indicated to us your reviewing interests and language skills. If we are sending you inappropriate items, or if your interests change, please let us know your current reviewing interests. This can be done using MR Reviewer Home, by clicking "Change My Reviewer Info" after signing in.

When to keep the original item. Items sent to you for review may be retained (for your personal use only) once you have reviewed them.

Recommending new reviewers. New reviewers are frequently enlisted on the recommendation of a current reviewer. Your suggestions are very welcome. A potential reviewer should ordinarily have already published reviewable work.

Reviews in other publications. You may find yourself asked to write a review of the same item for another publication. In general, the community is best served by reviews written independently. If you have already been asked by another publication to review an item, please let us know and we will transfer it to another reviewer.

Write to us. We invite reviewers to write to our Reviewer Data Services Department (mathrev@ams.org) with their questions, complaints, or special requests. We are keenly aware that MR relies greatly on its reviewers and we welcome their correspondence—all of which will be read, carefully considered and, when appropriate, answered. (Note that MR normally does not accept unsolicited requests to review specific items.)



Subscriptions. Any requests for subscriptions to MR Database products or problems with current subscriptions should be addressed to:
 
American Mathematical Society Telephone: (800) 321-4267
Customer Services Telephone (worldwide): (401) 455-4000
P.O. Box 6248 FAX: (401) 455-4046
Providence, RI 02940-6248 Email: cust-serv@ams.org
USA Web site: www.ams.org/customers