Model description and papers


I am trying to publish a second experiment using a model that was previously published and has the ODD available online here at CoMSES. In the methods section I did a short summary of the model schedule and roughly what it does, without going into detail on every parameter and calculation, because 1) the model was previously published with a detailed description, 2) there is an open access document with the ODD available in CoMSES, 3) the code is freely available and the reader can see for him/herself.

One of the reviewers says he/she doesn’t have to read external stuff, and didn’t understand a thing about what parameters are and what the model does in detail. Sooo… now should I just include all the details again in the methods (risking having to copy-paste exact phrases from the original paper and ODD), or do I just ask “what is the purpose of a model description if everytime I publish something with the model I have to describe it again?”

Thanks for any tips/previous experience with this.


Interesting conundrum - as the computational models that generate some interesting result become larger and more complex (the CESM comes to mind) this will probably become more common. As a computer scientist / data modeler I fully appreciate not repeating yourself but at the same time it is helpful as a reviewer to not have to locate and understand external dependencies…

I assume you provided links to the existing ODD and parameter descriptions?

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Hi Allen! Thanks for answering. Yes, I provided the link to the COMSES model in the first paragraph of the methods… I probably have no choice but to include more detail on each parameter, but I can’t include all details! That is why there is a standalone ODD and the original publication (which also has the ODD attached and videos). I just feel the reviewer was lazy and then blames it on me for not understanding details… The alternative is to just include the full ODD as supplementary material on each paper that uses the same model…

Don’t you just hate having the explain the same thing over and over and over again, each time you publish on a topic? I can appreciate this. So here are a couple ideas.

  1. Take your ODD and make it supplemental information to your paper.

  2. Respond: ‘The detailed description of this model is published at [citation and link], and I provide a reference to that information in the manuscript. I can certainly include it again in the text of the current manuscript if the editor prefers. It would add approximately [XXX] pages to my text. I request advice from the editor on this issue.’


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You want to have sufficient detail for the reader to understand the basics of the paper, like meaning of the parameters you discuss in the paper. Some of my ODD’s are 30 to 40 pages long and much more detailed than what I discuss in the paper. So even when you have published the ODD before, you want to reader to understand sufficient details of the model to understand the results. What is sufficient is somewhat subjective.


Hi! Thank you all for the answers.

Great tips here. I will probably do a bit of both. Add more detail on the MS and the ODD goes as supplementary material. That should settle it, I hope.

The thing is the other reviewers understood the model, probably because they checked the link. And, as Marco said, the amount of info that is enough isn’t the same for everyone…

Thank you.