Duties and responsibilities of reviewers: (i) All papers should be impartially examined solely on the basis of the intellectual content of the paper, regardless of gender, race, origin, religion, nationality or political value of the author, (ii) All information concerning the paper must be kept secret, (iii) All information that may contain grounds for refusal of the paper must be forwarded to the editor.
- How a review is conducted
Before the referees accept or decline an invitation to review, they must consider the following questions: (i) Does the article match their areas of expertise? Only accept if they feel that they can provide a high-quality review, (ii) Do they have a potential conflict of interest? When they respond, they must disclose this to the editor (iii) Do they have time? Reviewing can be a lot of work – before they commit, make sure that they can meet the deadline, (iv) Finally: the reviewers must be experts in the peer-review process.
- Before review
If one accepts, he/she must treat the materials one receives as confidential documents. This means that they cannot share them with anyone without prior authorization from the editor. Since peer review is confidential, they also must not share information about the review with anyone without permission from the editors and authors. First, they read the article and then take a break from it, giving them time to think. Consider the article from their own perspective. When they write the review, make sure they know what the journal is looking for, and have a copy of any specific reviewing criteria they need to consider.
- The review report
The review will help the editor decide whether or not to publish the article. Giving the overall opinion and general observations of the article is essential. The comments should be courteous and constructive and should not include any personal remarks or personal details, including the reviewers’ names. Providing insight into any deficiencies is important. They should explain and support their judgement so that both editors and authors can fully understand the reasoning behind their comments. They should indicate whether their comments are their own opinion or are reflected by the data.
- Reviewer must:
- Summarize the article in a short paragraph. This shows the editor 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 other ethical concerns, raise your suspicions with the editor, providing as much detail as possible. Visit COPE Guidelines for more information.
- Give specific comments and suggestions, including layout and format, Title, Abstract, Introduction, Graphical Abstracts and/or Highlights, Method, statistical errors, Results, Conclusion/Discussion, language and References.
- The recommendation
When they make a recommendation, it is worth considering the categories the editor most likely uses for classifying the article:
- Reject (explain the reason in report)
- Accept without revision
- Revise – either major or minor (explain the revision that is required, and indicate to the editor whether or not they would be happy to review the revised article)
- The final decision
The editor ultimately decides whether to accept or reject the article. Journal plays no part in this decision. The editor will weigh all views and may call for a third opinion or ask the author for a revised paper before deciding. The online editorial system provides reviewers with a notification of the final decision if the journal has opted into this function. If this is not applicable, they can contact the editor to find out whether the article was accepted or rejected.
- Regular issue: The editorial board will make an initial screening of all manuscripts received to determine if the topic addressed fits with the journal’s subject. All manuscripts accepted after the initial screening will undergo a double-blind peer-review process. The editorial board makes the final decision, which reserves the right to refuse any manuscript or, when manuscripts are accepted, to add specific corrections or shorten them. Any changes affecting the substance of the text will, of course, only be made in agreement with the author. The review process takes between 4 and 8 weeks.
- Special (theme) issue: A special issue on a particular theme could be published once a year. At least six authors will be invited to submit an article for publication. At least one referee will review selected manuscripts based on anonymity. The editorial board makes the final decision, which reserves the right to refuse any manuscript, or, in case manuscripts are accepted, to add certain corrections or shorten them. Any changes affecting the substance of the text will, of course, only be made in agreement with the author.