Duties of Reviewers
The importance of peer reviewing. Peer review is an essential part of formal scholarly communication and lies at the heart of the scientific method. Peer review assists the editor in making editorial decisions and through the editorial communications with the author may also assist the author in improving the paper. Peer reviewers need to recognize the importance of their role and commit to contributing high quality work to the process of publishing scholarly research.
Promptness. Any selected reviewer who feels unqualified to review the research reported in a paper, or knows that its prompt review will be impossible should notify the editor and excuse themselves from the review process. If a selected reviewer agrees to review a paper, they should then adhere to timelines set by the editor.
Confidentiality. Any papers received for review must be treated as confidential documents. They must not be shown to or discussed with others except as authorized by the editor.
Standards of objectivity. Reviews should be conducted objectively. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Reviewers should express their opinions clearly with supporting arguments.
Study ethics. Reviewers are encouraged to comment on ethical questions and possible research misconduct raised by submissions (e.g. unethical research design or protection of research subjects).
Acknowledgement of sources. Reviewers are encouraged to be alert to redundant publication and plagiarism. Reviewers should identify relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors. Any statement that an observation, derivation, or argument had been previously reported should be accompanied by the relevant citation. A reviewer should also call to the editor's attention any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge.
Disclosure and conflicts of interest. Unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted manuscript must not be used in a reviewer's own research without the express written consent of the author. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage. Reviewers should not consider manuscripts in which they have conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers.
Peer Review Process
The invitation. Before you accept or decline, consider the following questions:
Does the article match your area of expertise? Only accept if you feel you can provide a high quality review.
Do you have a potential conflict of interest? Disclose this to the editor when you respond.
Do you have time? Reviewing can be a lot of work—before you commit, make sure you can meet the deadline.
Finally: Explore the peer review process explained below.
Respond to the invitation as soon as you can—delay in your decision slows down the review process, whether you agree to review or not. If you decline the invitation, provide suggestions for alternative reviewers.
Before you start. If you accept, you must treat the materials you receive as confidential documents. This means you cannot share them with anyone without prior authorization from the editor. Since peer review is confidential, you also must not share information about the review with anyone without permission from the editors and authors.
First read the article and then take a break from it, giving yourself time to think. Consider the article from your own perspective. When you sit down to write the review, make sure you know what the journal is looking for, and have a copy of any specific reviewing criteria you need to consider.
Your review report. For detailed guidance on writing a review, see below. Your review will help the editor decide whether or not to publish the article. Giving your overall opinion and general observations of the article is essential. Your comments should be courteous and constructive, and should not include any personal remarks or personal details, including your name.
Providing insight into any deficiencies is important. You should explain and support your judgment so that both editors and authors are able to fully understand the reasoning behind your comments. You should indicate whether your comments are your own opinion or are reflected by the data.
Summarize the article in a short paragraph. This shows the editor that you have read and understood the research.
Give your main impressions of the article, including whether it is novel and interesting, whether it has a sufficient impact and adds to the knowledge base.
Point out any journal-specific points—does it adhere to the journal’s standards?
If you suspect plagiarism, fraud, or have other ethical concerns, raise your suspicions with the editor, providing as much detail as possible. See the TR “Publication Ethics and Publication Malpractice” statement.
Give specific comments and suggestions, including concerning layout and format, title, abstract, introduction, method, results, conclusion/discussion, language and references.
Your recommendation. When you make a recommendation, it is worth considering the categories the editor most likely uses for classifying the article:
Reject (explain reason in report);
Accept without revision;
Revise—either major or minor revisions (explain the revision that is required, and indicate to the editor whether or not you would be happy to review the revised article).
The final decision. The Editorial Board ultimately decides whether to accept or reject the article. The Editorial Board will weigh all views and may ask the author for a revised paper before making a decision.
Questions guiding reviewer in assessment of the paper
Please provide examples and evidence for responses, do not simply answer yes or no.
Topic and content
Is the topic relevant for the journal?
Is the content important to the field?
Is the work original? (If not, please give references)
Does the title reflect the contents of the article?
To what extent does the abstract reflect aspects of the study: background, objectives, methods, results, and conclusions?
Introduction / Background
Is the study rationale adequately described?
Are the study objectives clearly stated and defined?
To what extent is the study design appropriate and adequate for the objectives?
Is the sample size appropriate and adequately justified?
Is the sampling technique appropriate and adequately described?
How well are the methods and instruments of data collection described?
How well are techniques to minimize bias/errors documented?
If there are issues related to ethics, are they adequately described? (For human studies, has ethical approval been obtained?)
Analysis and results
Are the methods adequately described?
Are the methods of data analysis appropriate?
Do the results answer the research question?
Are the results credible?
Is statistical significance well documented (if applicable)?
Are the findings presented logically with appropriate displays and explanations?
How well are the key findings stated?
To what extent have differences or similarities with other studies been discussed and reasons for these given?
Are the findings discussed in the light of previous evidence?
Are the implications of these findings clearly explained?
Is the interpretation warranted by and sufficiently derived from and focused on the data and results?
Do the results justify the conclusion(s)?
Are the references appropriate and relevant?
Are they up to date?
Are there any obvious, important references that should have been included and have not been?
Do the references follow the recommended style?
Are there any errors?
Is the paper clearly written?
Is the paper presented logically (e.g. correct information in each section, logical flow of arguments)?
Are there problems with the grammar/spelling/punctuation/language?