Reviewers carry out several functions including:Helping authors improve their papers by providing your professional expertise. Gain a sense of prestige in being consulted as an expert!
Playing an important role in maintaining a good, rigorous peer-review process.
- Expanding your awareness of the current research emerging within your field.
- Building relationships and improve your academic and professional profile.Although often anonymous, the review process can enable a discussion (between author, reviewer, and editor) around a research field or topic.
- Improving your own writing skills. Reviewing others work can make it easier to spot commons errors in your own.
Before agreeing to review for a journal, consider the following:
- What form of review does the journal operate? (Singleblind/Double blind/Open)
- How you will need to submit your review – for example, is there a structured form for reviewers to complete or will you be required to write free text?
- Do you have any conflicts of interest? If so, make the editor aware immediately.
- Whether you can complete the review in the allotted time. If you later find yourself struggling to meet the deadline, let the editor know, so they can inform the author of any delays.
First read the article and then take a break from it, giving you 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.
Guide on writing your review:
You’ve received your invite and said yes, here’s what to do next.
- Research the journal
- Visit the journal homepage to get a sense of the journal’s published content and house style. This will help you in deciding whether the paper being reviewed is suitable for the journal or not.
- Refer to the Instructions for Authors to check if the paper meets the submission criteria of the journal (e.g. length, scope, and presentation).
- Write your report
Questions to consider
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.
Questions to have in mind when reading the manuscript (in no particular order):
- Is the submission original?
- Does the paper fit the scope of the journal?
- Would the paper be of interest to the readership of the journal?
- Does the paper help to expand or further research in this subject area?
- Does it significantly build on (the author’s) previous work?
- Do you feel that the significance and potential impact of a paper is high or low?
- Is the paper complete? Is there an abstract or summary of the work undertaken as well as a concluding section?
- Is the methodology presented in the manuscript and any analysis provided both accurate and properly conducted?
- Are all relevant accompanying data, citations, or references given by the author?
- Should it be shortened and reconsidered in another form?
- Would you recommend that the author reconsider the paper for a related or alternative journal?
- Is the submission in Standard English to aid the understanding of the reader? For non-native speakers.
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.
- 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.
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.
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 will 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.
A note about revisions
When authors make revisions to their article in response to reviewer comments, they are asked to submit a list of changes and any comments for transmission to the reviewers. The revised version is usually returned to the original reviewer if possible, who is then asked to affirm whether the revisions have been carried out satisfactorily.