Please make sure the article you have been asked to review matches your expertise.
Can You Meet the Journal Deadlines?
Reply to the invitation to review as soon as possible. Decide if you can review the paper in the allotted time; a request for an extension can be made. If you cannot meet the deadlines, then declining the review is recommended.
Avoid a Potential Conflict of Interest by Disclosing Your Concerns to the Editor
A conflict of interest will not necessarily eliminate you from reviewing an article. Possible conflicts include: working in the same institution as one of the authors; having coauthored a paper with an author, particularly if it has been recent; or having a financial connection to the article. These should be listed when responding to the editor's invitation for review.
You must keep the contents of the paper and your review confidential. Even if you do not review the paper, you must keep any knowledge of it confidential. You cannot act on the contents of the paper until it has been published. Please do not contact the author about the paper, or sign your name to the review. Destroy the article after the review. If you need more information, please contact the Editor-in-Chief.
Be Aware of Ethical Issues
In our Ethics section, a list of possible problems (fraud, plagiarism, etc.) with papers is given. If you see problems, share them with the editor. Various groups and journals have developed websites to aid in handling ethics in publications (e.g., see COPE: http://publicationethics.org/resources/flowcharts).
In your review, please state if there are problems with the ethical treatment of animal or human subjects and whether the authors refer to and use appropriate guidelines in their procedures.
Is the Paper Publishable? Writing Your Review
Here are a number of questions you can use to evaluate a research paper and address in your review. Be thoughtful and give the time needed to do a good job. Please justify your comments with explanations.
Does the submission make an original contribution to the field?
- Is the paper an important one? Where would you rank it in terms of its importance?
- Is the Abstract structured and clear?
- Is the Introduction clear, set the stage and give the rationale for the study?
- Are the methods complete? Is the information needed to reproduce the study given?
- Is there appropriate informed consent (human experiments) with documentation that a human or animal protection committee reviewed the protocol prior to the initiation of the study?
- Are the results in tables, figures, and legends clear and easily understood?
- Are the statistics appropriate? Enlist the help of a biostatistician if you are unsure.
- Are the conclusions supported by the results? Is there unfounded speculation?
- Is the paper up to the journal’s standards of excellence?
- Does the format of the paper follow the author’s guidelines for the journal? For example, does it have a structured abstract and CoI statements?
- Are the grammar and language appropriate or need improvement?
- Are the references correct and inclusive?
- Do you see any evidence of ethical problems?
Make a Recommendation to the Editor
The standard recommendations are
- Reject (explain reason in report)
- Accept without revision
- Revise (either major or minor)
Add the written evaluation that addresses the questions above.
The journal’s editor reserves the final right to accept or reject a paper.