Benefits of peer review

Peer review, also known as refereeing, is a collaborative process that allows independent experts in the same field of research to evaluate and comment on manuscript submissions. The outcome of a peer review gives authors feedback to improve their work and, critically, allows the editors to assess the paper’s suitability for publication. This process upholds the integrity of scholarly communication. It ensures that published research is accurate, trustworthy, and meets the highest standards.

Peer review also provides personal benefits:

  • Keep up with the latest research | As a reviewer, you get early access to new research happening in your field. Peer review also gives you a role in helping to evaluate and improve new work.
  • Improve your own writing | Reviewing articles written by others can give you insight into how to improve your own. Thinking critically about what makes an article good, or not so good, helps you spot common mistakes and avoid these in your own work.
  • Boost your career | A lot of peer review is anonymous, however you include your reviewing work on your CV to evidence service to the profession.

Invitation to review

Submitted manuscripts are reviewed by at least two experts. Reviewers are asked to evaluate the quality of the manuscript and recommend to the editors whether a manuscript can be accepted, requires revisions or should be rejected.

We ask invited reviewers to please: 

  • accept or decline any invitations quickly, based on the manuscript title and abstract;
  • suggest alternative reviewers if an invitation must be declined; 
  • request an extension in case more time is required to compose a report;

As part of the assessment, reviewers will be asked:

  • to rate the originality, significance, quality of the presentation, soundness, interest to the readers, overall merit and English level of the manuscript;
  • to look at the reference list of the manuscript and check if there are inappropriate self-citations;
  • to provide an overall recommendation for the publication of the manuscript;
  • to provide a detailed, constructive review report.

Potential conflicts of interests

We ask reviewers to inform us if they hold a conflict of interests that may prejudice the review report, whether positively or negatively.

If you are invited to assess a manuscript you have previously reviewed for another publication this is not considered as a conflict of interest, rather we ask you to let us know whether the manuscript has been improved compared to its previous version. 

Confidentiality and anonymity

Reviewers should keep the content of the manuscript, including the abstract, confidential. 

We operate double blind peer review. Thus, reviewers should take care not to reveal their identify or affiliation to the authors, whether in their comments or in the metadata of any reports they submit.

Reviewers reports are confidential and will only ever be disclosed with the explicit permission of the reviewer. 

Timely review process

We aim to provide an efficient and high quality service to authors. Therefore we ask reviewers to assist by providing review reports in a timely manner. Please contact the editors if you require an extension to the review deadline.

Peer-review and editorial procedure

All manuscripts are strictly and thoroughly peer-reviewed by subject experts. The editors perform an initial check of the manuscript’s suitability upon receipt. The editors then organise the peer-review process performed by independent experts and collect at least two review reports per manuscript.

We ask our authors for adequate revisions (with a second round of peer-review if necessary) before a final decision is made. The final decision is made by the editors. Accepted articles are copy-edited and English-edited. 

Publication ethics

Manuscripts submitted should meet the highest standards of publication ethics:

  • Manuscripts should only report results that have not been submitted or published before, even in part.
  • Manuscripts must be original and should not reuse text from another source without appropriate citation.
  • Where applicable, the studies should have been carried out in accordance with generally accepted ethical research standards.

If reviewers become aware of misconduct or fraud, plagiarism or any other unethical behaviour related to the manuscript, they should raise their concerns with the editors immediately.

Rating a manuscript

To begin with, please consider the following guidelines: 

  • Read the whole article as well as the supplementary material, if there is any, paying close attention to the methods, data, figures and tables.
  • Your report should critically analyse the article as a whole but also specific sections and the key concepts presented in the article.
  • Please ensure your comments are detailed so that the authors may better understand and address the points you raise.
  • Reviewers must not recommend excessive citation of their work (self-citations) or another author’s work (honorary citations) as a means of increasing the citations of the reviewer/authors/journal. You can provide references as needed, but they must clearly improve the quality of the manuscript under review.
  • Please maintain a neutral tone and focus on providing constructive criticism that will help the authors improve their work. Derogatory or abusive comments will not be tolerated.
Overall recommendation

Please provide an overall recommendation for the publication of the manuscript by choosing one of the options below:

  • Accept in present form; the manuscript is accepted without any further changes
  • Accept after minor revisions; the paper is in principle accepted after revisions based on the reviewer’s comments. Authors are given 10 working days for minor revisions.
  • Reconsider after major revisions; the acceptance of the manuscript depends on the revisions. The author needs to provide a point by point response or provide a rebuttal if some of the reviewer’s comments cannot be revised. Usually, only one round of major revisions is allowed. Authors will be asked to resubmit the revised paper within twenty working days and the revised version will be returned to the reviewers for further comments.
  • Reject; the article has serious flaws, makes no original contribution, and the paper is rejected with no offer of resubmission to the journal.

Note that your recommendation is visible only to editors, not to the authors.

Review rubric

Please use the following rubric to rate various aspects of the manuscript.

(Clicking on the image will open or download the rubric in pdf)

Review rubric
Review report

Review reports should contain the following: 

  • Brief summary Please provide a one (short) paragraph) summary outlining the aim of the paper, its main contributions and strengths.
  • General comments Please comment on the general concept of the manuscript, as well as pointing out any areas of weakness such as methodological inaccuracies. You can choose to subdivide your points into major and minor remarks.
  • Specific comments Refer to line numbers where present, tables or figures that point out inaccuracies within the text or sentences that are unclear. Comments should focus on the scientific content, and where considered necessary on spelling, formatting or English language problems but note that the latter will be addressed at a later stage by the editors. You can choose to subdivide your points into major and minor remarks.

Questions that can help to guide your comments include:

  • Is the manuscript clear, relevant for the field and presented in a well-structured manner?
  • Are the cited references current (mostly within the last 5 years)? Are any relevant citations omitted? Does it include an abnormal number of self-citations?
  • Is the manuscript scientifically sound and is the experimental design appropriate to test the hypothesis?
  • Are the manuscript’s results reproducible based on the details given in the methods section?
  • Are the figures/tables/images/schemes appropriate? Do they properly show the data? Are they easy to interpret and understand? Are the data interpreted appropriately and consistently throughout the manuscript? Please check details regarding the statistical analysis or data acquired from specific databases.
  • Are the conclusions consistent with the evidence and arguments presented?
  • Please evaluate the ethics statements and data availability statements to ensure they are adequate.

Further guidance

For further guidance on writing a critical review, please refer to the following documents: 

  1. COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Committee on Publication Ethics. Available online.
  2. Writing a journal article review. Australian National University: Canberra, Australia, 2010. Available online.
  3. Golash-Boza, T. How to write a peer review for an academic journal: Six steps from start to finish. Available online.