Report review refers to the process wherein the proposed report is examined in detail for both its technical content and its composition by the author, the author's supervisors, and the technical review committee or a single reviewer. A published report not only represents an author's contribution to the scientific community but also reflects the fact that the contribution has the full support of NASA. Effective review of a proposed report is consequently of considerable importance both to the author and to NASA. All participants have a responsibility to do a thorough, effective, and expedient job. For some basic guidelines on publishing NASA reports, see the NASA Publications Guide (ref. 13) and Technical Publication Policy (ref. 14). For some basic guidelines on reviewing reports, see Technical Review Committee Guidelines
A Glenn report generally passes through four reviewing steps before it is submitted to the Logistics and Technical Information (can be accessed at http://ltid.grc.nasa.gov from computers in the grc.nasa.gov domain only) Division's Publishing Services for processing and publication. (See the Research Publications Processing Guide (ref. 11) and FAQ—Publishing Your Technical Report at NASA Glenn Research Center for more detailed information on processing. The major steps in reviewing Glenn reports are
The nature of the report or your division's review policy may cause minor variances.
Prompt handling at each step is essential to minimize the total time involved. A good job of preparation and review by the author followed by a thorough check by the branch chief can save considerable time and effort in the subsequent steps. In particular, a detailed review of the technical accuracy and emphasis can save time in the originating division's reviews, and care in preparing and checking the figures and tables can save time in Publishing Services' preparation of the final report figures and tables.
Evaluation and review of a report must begin with the author. If you develop the ability to criticize your own material effectively, the need for later review and evaluation will be minimized. There obviously would be little need for technical review committees if reports were thoroughly examined by the authors. Many times failure to review a report effectively can be attributed to the tendency of many authors (and supervisors) to allow poor rough drafts to pass through regular channels on the assumption that so many people review the report that the author will be able to defer rewriting to a later time. Remember that subsequent review will be less severe and time consuming if you carefully examine the original rough draft before submitting it to your immediate supervisor.
As an aid in evaluating your reports ask yourself these questions when reviewing your draft:
In essence, these questions are the same ones that your supervisor and a review committee will be asking.
Work to be published in a NASA Special Publication or Reference Publication must be reviewed by a committee. All other publications are reviewed by a committee or a single reviewer at the discretion of the division chief. (See the Technical Review Checklist.)
The technical review committee (TRC) usually consists of three or more persons selected by either the branch chief or the division chief. One person serves as chair, another as checker, and the others as advisors. The committee is usually given about 2 weeks in which to examine the report, and then a meeting is held between the committee and the author (or authors).
The objectives of the TRC are to check the technical accuracy and clarity of a report and to ensure that it is worthy of publication and meets the standards required of NASA reports. The committee members share responsibility with the author for the technical soundness, logic of arrangement, and clarity of expression in the report. Each member of the committee should spend enough time on the report to effect a complete and judicious appraisal.
As a reviewer if you feel that your other duties may conflict with the review, by all means make this known to your supervisor. It is not fair to NASA or to the author of the report for you to neglect your responsibilities as a reviewer. Your duties in the normal course of your work are certainly important, but they are no more so than your job as the reviewer of a report to be released to the general public.
As the author do not feel that you attend the review meeting to defend the report. Consider yourself not as the author of the report but as a member of the committee making a more critical examination of the report than the other members.
Occasionally the author and the committee members disagree on certain points. If disagreements are sufficiently serious, either the author or the committee members may submit memorandums backing their opinions to the division chief for a decision. This situation does not arise often, and both authors and committee members are urged to enter meetings with open minds ready to consider the report in an unbiased manner.
All committee members should examine the figures and tables and each reference to the data in the text to determine that every statement is justified by the data presented. They should watch for conflicting statements and needless repetition. The member of the committee designated as checker should examine the raw data, the instructions and formulas used by the computers in converting the data, and the points on the curves to ascertain that the methods of computing and plotting are correct. In general, the committee's time should be spent in ensuring that the report is technically sound, leaving grammatical points to Editorial. But grammatical changes should be made when the technical clarity is in doubt.
The duty of the chair is to direct the review of the report so that the objectives of the committee are achieved harmoniously and efficiently. The chair should confine discussion to matters pertaining directly to the report. All suggestions should be clarified for the author, but modifying the report should be left to the author. When a report must be substantively altered, the chair may call a subsequent meeting.
Reviewers should become familiar with the requirements of each section of a report and watch for deviations as they review them. The title of a report should be brief but comprehensive. It should give readers an idea of the objective of the report stated in the Introduction. The title and the objective must, in turn, be related to the conclusions. Examine the conclusions carefully to be sure that the objective has been reached.
Another important point in reviewing a report is considering the reliability of the reference material. To do a conscientious job of report reviewing, one reviewer (e.g., the checker) should make sure that the material cited from a reference actually is in the reference. Many writers have the habit of recalling that a certain fact appeared in a particular reference, and if the reference is not handy to check the particular point, they will include it in the reference list without being certain that the reference is proper.
The reviewers should decide carefully whether the conclusions drawn by the author are logical and supported by the data. Conclusions from NASA reports are often quoted verbatim in other publications. Therefore their exact meaning and intent should be clear.
As mentioned before, the committee must evaluate the contribution of the report to a specific area of knowledge. This responsibility should be taken seriously by committee members and the author. They must be prepared to tell the division chief whether or not the report should be published.
The responsibilities of a single reviewer are the same as those of a TRC. The reviewer alone is responsible for evaluating the technical soundness and accuracy of the report and its value as a contribution. In assuming this significant burden the reviewer should feel as much responsibility as for his or her own technical reports.Questions on policies and procedures should be directed to Natalie Henrich, (216) 433-5301.
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Chapter 6—Concluding and Supporting Sections
Scientific and Technical Information
From computers in the grc.nasa.gov domain, go to http://ltid.grc.nasa.gov to find out more about the Logistics and Technical Information Division. (Note that this is not meant to be an active link.)
Responsible NASA Official: Natalie L. Henrich,
Glenn Technical Publications Manager
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Last updated: 4/22/2011
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