Product Reviews Guidelines
O Scale Trains Magazine Policy on Product News and Reviews
First, to understand our review policy, take a minute to understand our business model, for it may differ from other publications you may advertise in or otherwise may have dealt with. Our product is knowledge and unbiased objectivity, salted with a little thoughtful commentary. Our targeted market is the O Scaler, or potential O Scaler, who aspires to advance their modeling skills. To that end, realize that OST is not intended to be an industry organ of any sort. We are a craft publication, not a news magazine. Our values include objectivity, accuracy, and integrity.
That said, we review products based on our judgement that the product is of interest to our targeted market. Because OST follows this business model, review space is allocated by the editorial staff. Review space (and any editorial content, for that matter) is not allocated or influenced in any way on the basis of advertising sales or potential advertising sales. We have reviewed in the past, and will continue to review, product from advertisers, non-advertisers, from outside the marketplace (such as architectural modeling products), and even from our own competitors.
Receipt of Review Material
Review material is received at OST from a number of sources. Manufacturers, publishers, and importers supply much of our material. Subscribers, as end users of product, also supply review material. We also purchase material from the retail sector for review. We strive to treat each product on its merits and applicability to our targeted market in an unbiased manner, no matter the source.
Selection of Review Material
The choice of what products are reviewed is based on the editorial staff’s best estimate as to the potential interest our targeted market might have in that product.
Reviews are conducted and published with an eye on the value criteria of our targeted market. These value criteria include, but are not limited to, prototype fidelity, compatibility, observed performance, fit, and finish.
Conduct of Evaluation
Bearing in mind that we are a modeler’s craft magazine, evaluation of product is not done in a pre-determined test environment in the manner of, for example, Consumer’s Union. Evaluation is done in the same or a similar environment as the product would be used by our targeted market. That is, after all, where you want your product, giving satisfactory performance in basements everywhere.
We do not advise as to the purchase of any product featured in the magazine. Reviews present, to the best of our ability, an objective observation of what is there and what is not there, within the context of the value criteria above. The contact information and MSRP is printed at the top. With this information, it is in the purview of the reader to determine personal value.
Reviewers are closely supervised and guided by the Editor. Following our model, there have actually been more reviewers rejected for potential bias than those who can write reviews within the confines of objectivity.
No member of the advertising staff of OST or WRP writes reviews for OST. We perceive this as a conflict of interest.
We do not do head-to-head comparisons between similar products from different manufacturers/suppliers as product reviews. We will do direct comparisons between similar products in articles discussing different aspects of the hobby (digital control systems as a recent example).
Please understand that there will always be a subjective element in the review process. We will do our very best to be as objective as possible, however. It is, after all, our stock in trade.
What You Can Expect
We welcome the opportunity to review any product you would like to see “showcased” to our target market, whether you are an advertiser or not. We do reserve the right to determine whether such a product would be of interest to our market.
We edit a review before publication, but only:
1) For clarity, punctuation, style
2) For matters of reviewer error
3) For the protection of intellectual property
4) If a review item is replaced in kind because the original item supplied would be subject to return under your warranty provisions
5) If an issue has been addressed or substantially changed in production
6) To add information that both the source and OST agrees is of interest to our market
First Party Reviews:
An item supplied to the magazine by a manufacturer, importer, distributor, etc. is a “first party” review. The supplier must make clear whether the material is to be returned or not. If the material is to be returned, all costs are borne by the supplier. If not to be returned under arrangements made by the supplier, the item reviewed becomes the property of OST and may, by mutual agreement between OST and the reviewer, be given to the reviewer in lieu of monetary payment at WRP editorial rate. This is especially important in the case of kits or ready-to-finish material, allowing that kit to be built by the reviewer or item to be finished by the reviewer.
In the case of a first party review, the supplier can ask to see the review before publication. It is incumbent on the supplier to make that request. That supplier can either reply to that review (to be printed with and directly following that review), ask it not be published, or agree without comment. The review itself will not be changed once edited by the OST editorial staff. If pulled from publication, no special arrangements will be implied by the pulling of that review for the return of or payment for the material reviewed.
Second Party Reviews:
An item purchased from the trade by OST for review is considered a second party review. The supplier of that item to the trade does not have the right-of-preview of a first party review. The item reviewed is the property of OST and may, by mutual agreement between OST and the reviewer, be given to the reviewer in lieu of monetary payment at WRP editorial rate.
Third Party Reviews:
An item purchased by a consumer and reviewed by that consumer is considered a third party review. Again the supplier of the material to the trade does not have right-of-preview. The material, of course, is the property of the reviewer and that reviewer is paid at WRP editorial rate.
Should you take issue with a published review (no matter what “party”), we welcome your rebuttal. If that issue is something that would be a matter of our or the reviewer’s error, it will be treated as errata. For all else, it will be treated as a “Letter to the Editor”, subject to the editorial considerations and potential reader feedback under which all such material is published.
Finally, you can expect product reviews to be as unbiased and objective as we can make them. You can expect them to be written without superlative, addressing the value criteria important to our target market. You can expect them to be written without bias in favor of advertisers, without bias in favor of your competitor, and without bias in favor of your product line over a competitor. We are happy to work with you on matters of timing, “product roll-out”, and the like. Please understand, though, that we cannot be perceived by our market, be it our readers and subscribers, our other advertisers, or the industry at large, as having compromised our integrity on this issue.
Product announcements and news items submitted by manufacturers will be run without editorial comment. They may be edited to remove superlative and for consideration of space. Please see the Articles Submissions section for text and photo requirements.
Submit your product for review, product news announcements, or completed reviews to:
Article and Review Submission:
O Scale Trains Magazine
250 Arendtsville Road
Biglerville, PA 17307
Phone: (301) 335-7301
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.