Step by Step Guide to Reviewing a Manuscript
Invitation to Review
As soon as you get an invitation to peer-review, you'll be given a copy of the paper's abstract, to help you decide;
- If the article you are being asked to review match your expertise? If it doesn't, please notify the editor as soon as possible and feel free to recommend an alternate reviewer.
- Do you have time to review the paper within 2 weeks? If you think you can't meet the time frame, please let the editor know.
- Are there any potential conflicts of interest? While conflicts of interest will not disqualify you from reviewing the manuscript, it is vital to disclose all conflicts of interest to the editor before accepting to review.
- Have you reviewed the same manuscript for another journal? It should not be considered a conflict of interest in itself. In this case, reviewers should feel free to let us know if the manuscript has been improved or not compared to the previous version.
Step 01: Quick Skimming
The quick overview of the manuscript is a skim-read of the abstract that aids you in understanding the objective, methodology, and conclusions of the research work by building an initial impression and accordingly recommendation about the manuscript to either accept or reject.
Step 02: Pointing the Major Flaws
Before going to read the whole paper, we advise reviewers to consider the below points in mind and save time by flagging the major problems:
- Insufficient and unclear data or sampling size
- Non-significant variations or contradictory data
- Contradicting conclusion in comparison to the results
- Ambiguous presentation of data in figures, tables & graphs
- Possibility of data fabrication or falsification
- Sufficient use of control experiments
- Precision and accuracy of process data
- The validity of questions, detailed methodology, and well-presented results
- Sampling regularity in analytical papers
- Ignoring methods or procedures that are known to have a strong influence on the area under study
Please note the specific reason and supporting evidence to add tothe evaluation report if you find any major problem.
Step 03: Data Scanning
Once you agree that the manuscript sounds logical and worthy to be reviewed, start scanning the manuscript section by section, while keeping the below questions in your mind:
- Is the question original and well defined?
- Do the results provide an advancement to existing knowledge?
- Are the results interpreted appropriately?
- Are they significant?
- Are all conclusions justified and supported by the results?
- Are hypotheses and speculations carefully identified as such?
- Ethical Research Standards
- Is the study carried out under generally accepted ethical research standards?
- Is there any sign of scientific misconduct, fraud, plagiarism, or any other unethical behaviors - that should be reported immediately?
- Quality of Presentation
- Is the article written properly?
- Are the data and analyses presented appropriately?
- Did author follow the highest standards for the presentation of the results used?
- Scientific Soundness
- Is the study correctly designed and technically sound?
- Are the analyses performed with the highest technical standards?
- Are the data robust enough to conclude?
- Are the methods, tools, software, and reagents described with sufficient details to allow another researcher to reproduce the results?
- Are the material and methods provided in the study replicable and repeatable according to the 'best practice guideline'?
- The health and safety of all participants in the study was not compromised and all ethical standards were maintained
- Interest to the Readers
- Are the conclusions interesting for the readership of the journal?
- Will the paper attract a wide readership or be of interest only to a limited number of people?
- Overall Merit
- Is there an overall benefit to publishing this work?
- Does the work provide an advancement towards the current knowledge?
- Is the author addressing an important long-standing question with smart experiments?
- English Level
- Is the English language appropriate and understandable?
Step 04: A Second Read - Through
When reading the manuscript, a second time, keep the below arguments in mind along with the clarity of language and content:
- Relevancy between title and subject of the paper
- Well written abstract as an accessible summary of the paper
- Originality and topicality should be established in the light of recent authoritative research with the latest article referencing.
- Results and discussion should be stated coherently.
- The manuscript should be designed for 'Search Engine Optimization, by having unique keywords that may help the article discoverability in search engines
- Length of the manuscript
- Content, language, grammar, relevancy, and logic of the paper
- References must be relevant, recent, adequate, and readily retrievable
In case you suspect or find direct plagiarism, please provide the source link and highlight the segment in the manuscript.
As part of the assessment, reviewers will be asked to:
- Rate the originality, significance, quality of the presentation, scientific soundness, interest to the readers, overall merit, and English level of the manuscript;
- Provide an overall recommendation for the publication of the manuscript;
- Provide a detailed, constructive review report;
Please provide an overall recommendation for the publication of the manuscript as follows:
- Accept in Present Form: The paper is accepted without any further changes.
- Accept after Minor Revisions: The paper is in principle accepted after revision based on the reviewer's comments. The authors are given five days for minor modifications.
- Reconsider after Major Revisions: The acceptance of the manuscript would depend 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. The authors will be asked to resubmit the revised paper within ten days, and the revised version will be returned to the reviewer 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 journal editors, not to the authors.
Timely Review Reports
We ask reviewers to assist by providing review reports on time. Please contact the editorial office if you require an extension to the review deadline.
- Submitted Manuscripts 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.
Confidentiality and Anonymity
Reviewers should keep the content of the manuscript, including the abstract, confidential. Reviewers must inform the Editorial Office if they would like a student or colleague to complete the review on their behalf.
Reviewers should be careful not to reveal their identity to the authors, either in their comments or in metadata for reports submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF format.
Note that reviewers are given access to all review reports for manuscripts they review via the online submission system after the final decision has been made.
Your comments should not include an indication of whether you think the article should be accepted for publication. For further guidance on peer-review, please refer to the following documents:
COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Committee on Publication Ethics. Available online.
Hames, I. Peer Review and Manuscript Management in Scientific Journals: Guidelines for Good Practice. Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford, UK, 2007.
Writing a journal article review. Australian National University: Canberra, Australia, 2010. Available online.
Golash-Boza, T. How to write a peer review for an academic journal: Six steps from start to finish. Available online.