PEER REVIEW POLICY
Authors are obliged to participate in the peer review process and cooperate fully by responding promptly to editors’ requests for raw data, clarifications, and proof of ethics approval, patient consents and copyright permissions. In the case of a first decision of "revisions necessary", authors should respond to the reviewers’ comments systematically, point by point, and in a timely manner, revising and re-submitting their manuscript to the journal by the deadline given.
A submitted manuscript first reviewed for completeness and only then sent to be assessed by an Editor who will decide whether they are suitable for peer review. Where if an Editor is on the author list or has any other competing interest regarding a specific manuscript, another member of the Editorial Board will be assigned to oversee peer review. Editors will consider the peer-reviewed reports when making a decision, but are not bound by the opinions or recommendations therein. A concern raised by a single peer reviewer or the Editor may result in the manuscript being rejected. Authors receive peer review reports with the editorial decision on their manuscript.
Peer Reviewer Guidance
The primary purpose of peer review is providing the Editor with the information needed to reach a fair, evidence-based decision that adheres to the journal’s editorial criteria. Review reports should also help authors revise their paper such that it may be accepted for publication. Reports accompanied by a recommendation to reject the paper should explain the major weaknesses of the research; this will help the authors prepare their manuscript for submission to a different journal.
Peer reviewers should adhere to the principles of COPE's Ethical Guidelines for Peer-reviewers.
Confidential comments to the Editor are welcome, but they must not contradict the main points in the report for the authors.
Peer reviewers should assess papers exclusively against the journal’s criteria for publication.
The following conventions should be respected:
- Reviewers should review the peer review policy of the Journal before revealing their reviewer role.
- Reviews should be conducted objectively.
- Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate, as are defamatory/libelous remarks.
- Reviewers should express their views clearly with supporting arguments and references.
- Reviewers should declare any potential competing interests.
- Reviewers should decline to review manuscripts with which they believe they have a competing interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers.
- Reviewers should respect the confidentiality of material supplied to them and not discuss unpublished manuscripts with colleagues or use the information in their own work.
- Any reviewer who wants to pass a peer review invitation onto a colleague must contact the journal in the first instance.
Concerns relating to these points, or any aspect of the review process, should be raised with the editorial team.
We ask reviewers the following types of questions, to provide an assessment of the various aspects of a manuscript:
- Key results: Please summarize what you consider to be the outstanding features of the work.
- Validity: Does the manuscript have flaws, which should prohibit its publication? If so, please provide details.
- Originality and significance: If the conclusions are not original, please provide relevant references.
- Data & methodology: Please comment on the validity of the approach, quality of the data and quality of presentation. Please note that we expect our reviewers to review all data, including any extended data and supplementary information. Is the reporting of data and methodology sufficiently detailed and transparent to enable reproducing the results?
- Appropriate use of statistics and treatment of uncertainties: All error bars should be defined in the corresponding figure legends; please comment if that’s not the case. Please include in your report a specific comment on the appropriateness of any statistical tests, and the accuracy of the description of any error bars and probability values.
- Conclusions: Do you find that the conclusions and data interpretation are robust, valid and reliable?
- Inflammatory material: Does the manuscript contain any language that is inappropriate or potentially libelous?
- Suggested improvements: Please list suggestions that could help strengthen the work in a revision.
- References: Does this manuscript reference previous literature appropriately? If not, what references should be included or excluded? Attempts at reviewer-coerced citation will be noted against your record in our database.
- Clarity and context: Is the abstract clear, accessible? Are abstract, introduction and conclusions appropriate?
- Please indicate any particular part of the manuscript, data, or analyses that you feel is outside the scope of your expertise, or that you were unable to assess fully.
- Please address any other specific questions asked by the editor.
- Reviewers should alert the Editor-in-Chief (contact person from respective journal) if they wish to make an allegation of publication or research misconduct, e.g. plagiarism or image manipulation, about an article they are reviewing.
Before you submit your report, please take a moment to read it through and put yourself in the place of the authors. How would you feel if you received this report? Would the tone offend you? Is it courteous and professional? Are there unnecessary personal remarks or antagonistic comments about the authors or their competitors? Please note that the Editor reserves the right to remove any inappropriate language from your report.
Reports do not necessarily need to follow this specific order but should document the peer reviewer’s thought process. Some journals have a set of questions that reviewers will need to specifically address. All statements should be justified and argued in detail, naming facts and citing supporting references, commenting on all aspects that are relevant to the manuscript and that the reviewers feel qualified commenting on. Not all of the above aspects will necessarily apply to every paper, due to discipline-specific standards. When in doubt about discipline-specific peer-reviewing standards, reviewers can contact the Editor for guidance.
It is our policy to remain neutral with respect to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations, and the naming conventions used in maps and affiliation are left to the discretion of authors. Peer reviewers should not, therefore, request authors to make any changes to such unless it is critical to the clarity of the academic content of a manuscript.
The journal is committed to rapid editorial decisions and publication, and we believe that an efficient editorial process is a valuable service both to our authors and to the research community as a whole. We therefore ask reviewers to respond promptly within the number of days agreed. If reviewers anticipate a delay, we ask them to let us know so that we can keep the authors informed and, where necessary, find alternatives.