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Discussion period is an option that the system has for reviewers to exchange messages. The idea is that after the reviewers have finished the reviews they can discuss the system by exchanging (anonymous) messages and then trying to reach a consensus. This can be enabled through the dates:

Chair-> Reviews-> Configure-> Discussion Period starts / ends

For reviewers to discuss it is interesting that they see each other's reviews, which can be enabled in:

Chair-> Reviews-> Configure-> TPC member / editor can view reviews: assigner / own / all

assigner: only the chair and the assigner have access to the content of the revisions;
own: reviewers can only view their own revisions;
all: reviewers have access to all reviews of only the articles they are reviewing. They can not see the reviews of the other articles unless the Allow TPC member to list all papers option is true.

And you can also prevent reviewers from seeing each other's identities:

Chair-> Reviews-> Configure-> TPC member / editor sees reviewer identity

"Rebuttal" is a text that the authors write to argue against the reviewers. Discussion period is an option the system has for reviewers to exchange messages. These options are optional and the idea is that after the reviewers finish the reviews the authors can look at the reviews and write a text (rebuttal) trying to defend their article against the revisions. After the author writes the rebuttal the reviewers can look, discuss by system exchanging messages that may be anonymous and then try to having consensus (that is the discussion period). This is the procedure followed by some chairs but it is also possible, for example, to use the discussion period for reviewers to discuss revisions between them without a "rebuttal".

The authors of the discussion messages are the reviewers, but the messages are not identified. It is possible to show the identity of the other reviewers, but not of who was exactly the author of the messages. The person can always sign the message, but if she does not want it, it can be anonymous. Of course, in the case of an article that has only 2 reviewers, they will know who wrote it, but for 3 or more reviewers they will never know which of the others wrote the message, even if they know the identity of others.

In summary what happens is:

1.the chairs open the revisions between the reviewers (anonymous or not)
2.chairs open the discussion
3.Reviewers discuss whether they find it necessary (through messages) and the chairs can follow the messages
4.Reviewers may change their reviews during this time if they reach consensus through discussions.

At the time the discussion period is open the reviewers are not notified automatically, the event chair must advise the reviewers that it is possible to discuss the reviews. This can be done in two different ways:

1.by sending an email through the Chair-> People-> Send email interface to all reviewers of all articles indicating that it is possible to discuss peer reviews if they find it necessary
2.sending an initial discussion message on articles that have conflicting reviews. Articles with conflicting reviews can be identified through the Span information available at Chair-> Papers-> List papers.

To enable the discussion period:

Chair-> Reviews-> Configure-> Discussion Period starts / ends

To enable rebuttal:

Chair-> Reviews-> Configure-> Rebutall period starts / ends

Chair-> Reviews-> Configure-> Max. length of rebuttals (characters), 0 if none

IMPORTANT, if the maximum rebuttal size is zero the rebuttal option is disabled by JEMS. Zero does not mean unlimited size.

To release the identity of the other reviewers:

Chair-> Reviews-> Configure-> TPC member / editor sees reviewer identity: all

This allows reviewers to know who the other reviewers are, if that is the case. If the chairs decide not to allow reviewers to see the identities of others the discussion messages are sent with the email address of the JEMS server and the identities of the reviewers remain anonymous.