Reviewer Guideline

Reviewers Guideline

Peer review is the system for evaluating the quality, validity, and relevance of scholarly research. The process aims to provide authors with constructive feedback from relevant experts which they can use to make improvements to their work, thus ensuring it is of the highest standard possible. Authors expect reviews to contain an honest and constructive appraisal, which is completed in a timely manner and provides feedback that is both clear and concise.

Why review?

  • To help authors improve their papers, applying your professional expertise to help others.
  • To assist in maintaining a good, rigorous peer-review process resulting in the publication of the best and brightest.
  • To build relationships with the editorial team of a journal and improve your academic and professional profile.
  • Although often anonymous, the review process can act as a conversation between author, reviewer, and editor as to how the paper can be improved to maximize its impact and further research in the field.
  • Help to draw attention to any gaps in references and make the author aware of any additional literature that may provide a useful comparison, or clarification of an approach.

What to consider before saying 'yes' to reviewing

Before agreeing to review for a journal, you should take note of the following:

  • Let the editor know if your expertise and/or fields of interest cover the topic of the manuscript.
  • Decline an invitation to review if there is a conflict of interest with one of the authors. Conflicts of interest may include relationships with academic advisors and/ or advisees, anyone at your current institution, members of your family, or people with whom you have collaborated during the last ten years.
  • When declining a review, feel free to provide the contact information of a person who would be qualified to review the manuscript.
  • Upon accepting an invitation you will be provided two weeks to complete your review. Reviewers that doesn't reply on time will be excluded from the Database of Reviewers.

Writing a review: a step-by-step guide

Research:

1. Investigate the journal’s content

  • Refer to the Instructions for Authors to see if the paper meets the submission criteria of the journal (e.g. length, scope, and presentation).
  • Complete the review questions or report form to indicate the relative strengths or weaknesses of the paper.
  • A referee may disagree with the author’s opinions, but should allow them to stand, provided they are consistent with the available evidence.
  • Remember that authors will welcome positive feedback as well as constructive criticism from you.

Writing your report:

2. Make an assessment

  • Complete the review questions or report form to indicate the relative strengths or weaknesses of the paper.
  • A referee may disagree with the author’s opinions, but should allow them to stand, provided they are consistent with the available evidence.
  • Remember that authors will welcome positive feedback as well as constructive criticism from you.

3. Answer key questions

The main factors you should provide advice on as a reviewer are the originality, presentation, relevance, and significance of the manuscript’s subject matter to the readership of the journal.

Try to have the following questions in mind while you are reading the manuscript:

  • Is the submission original?
  • Does it help to expand or further research in this subject area?
  • Does it significantly build on (the author’s) previous work?
  • Does the paper fit the scope of the journal?
  • Should it be shortened and reconsidered in another form?
  • Would the paper be of interest to the readership of the journal?
  • Is there an abstract or brief summary of the work undertaken as well as a concluding section? Is the paper complete?
  • Is the submission in Standard English to aid the understanding of the reader? For non-native speakers, an English editing service may be useful (see our Author Services website for advice).
  • Is the methodology presented in the manuscript and any analysis provided both accurate and properly conducted?
  • Do you feel that the significance and potential impact of a paper is high or low?
  • Are all relevant accompanying data, citations, or references given by the author?

Other aspects to consider

Abstract – Has this been provided (if required)? Does it adequately summarize the key findings/approach of the paper?

Length – Reviewers are asked to consider whether the content of a paper is of sufficient interest to justify its length. Each paper should be of the shortest length required to contain all useful and relevant information, and no longer.

Originality – Is the work relevant and novel? Does it contain significant additional material to that already published?

Presentation – Is the writing style clear and appropriate to the readership? Are any tables or graphics clear to read and labeled appropriately?

References – Does the paper contain the appropriate referencing to provide adequate context for the present work?

4. Make a recommendation

Once you’ve read the paper and have assessed its quality, you need to make a recommendation to the editor regarding publication. The specific decision types used by a journal may vary but the key decisions are:

  • Accept – if the paper is suitable for publication in its current form.
  • Minor revision – if the paper will be ready for publication after light revisions. Please list the revisions you would recommend the author makes.
  • Major revision – if the paper would benefit from substantial changes such as expanded data analysis, widening of the literature review, or rewriting sections of the text.
  • Reject – if the paper is not suitable for publication with this journal or if the revisions that would need to be undertaken are too fundamental for the submission to continue being considered in its current form.

5. Provide detailed comments

  • These should be suitable for transmission to the authors: use the comment to the author as an opportunity to seek clarification on any unclear points and for further elaboration.
  • If you have time, make suggestions as to how the author can improve clarity, succinctness, and the overall quality of presentation.
  • Confirm whether you feel the subject of the paper is sufficiently interesting to justify its length; if you recommend shortening, it is useful to the author(s) if you can indicate specific areas where you think that shortening is required.
  • It is not the job of the reviewer to edit the paper for English, but it is helpful if you correct the English where the technical meaning is unclear.

Think about the following when compiling your feedback:

  • Does the paper make a significant contribution to contemporary [subject]?
  • Is the research likely to have an impact on [subject] practice or debate?
  • Does the paper present or expand upon novel or interesting ideas?
  • Is the paper likely to be of sufficient interest to be cited by other researchers?
  • Are the methods, analysis, and conclusions robust and to a high standard?
  • Is the paper well integrated and up to date with the existing body of literature?
  • Being critical whilst remaining sensitive to the author isn’t always easy and comments should be carefully constructed so that the author fully understands what actions they need to take to improve their paper. For example, generalized or vague statements should be avoided along with any negative comments which aren’t relevant or constructive.

What if you are unable to review?

Sometimes you will be asked to review a paper when you do not have sufficient time available. In this situation, you should make the editorial office aware that you are unavailable as soon as possible. It is very helpful if you are able to recommend an alternative expert or someone whose opinion you trust.

If you are unable to complete your report on a paper in the agreed time-frame required by the journal, please inform the editorial office as soon as possible so that the refereeing procedure is not delayed.

Make the editors aware of any potential conflicts of interest that may affect the paper under review.