Notes for Peer Reviewers of Manuscripts
Definition: a peer review is a process of examination/assessment of a manuscript by experts in the field in which the paper is written.
Purpose: Peer reviews assist editors in ensuring that papers accepted for publication are of high standard, original, and contribute to knowledge, and for manuscripts which do not meet the standards, advice on revisions necessary to arrive at the standard suitable for publication.
Approach: Papers are submitted to a reviewer without the name or affiliation of the writer(s), or hints of the identity of the writer(s). The reviewer is taken to be ‘blind’ to the identity of the writer of the paper. But in many cases, experienced reviewers would get a more-or-less good idea of the identity of the writer(s) through their work hitherto in the profession; in such cases, the provision on conflict of interest is relevant.
Process: Reviewers are encouraged to examine the following questions in arriving at their recommendations:
- Is the paper within the journal’s scope?
- Has the topic (problem) been clearly formulated?
- Has the author examined previous works done on the subject sufficiently to ensure that the submitted paper adds to the knowledge rather than produces something which has already been published?
- Is the method utilized clearly explained? Are there issues with methodology or reproducibility?
- Is the data/information utilized credible and obtained through standard processes of obtaining data and acknowledging sources?
- Is the conclusion consistent with the results obtained from the study?
- If the submission is on living subjects (people, patients, animals, communities), are there ethical issues? In this regard, reviewers can also comment on any conflict of interest they assess in the content of the manuscript and the funding agencies of the research and/or beneficiaries from the conclusions/results.
- Is the paper readable? In this regard, the flow of the manuscript, logical construction of arguments, and use of language, are to be considered.
Conflict of Interest: Where a reviewer can ascertain the identity of the author (or of at least one author in a co-authored manuscript), or where the reviewer has previously read a draft of the manuscript or heard a presentation on essentially the same materials as contained in the manuscript, the reviewer should declare this information to the editor in his/her report.
Released of Reviewer’s Identity: a reviewer has the option of advising the editor on whether s/he would be amenable to the editor releasing the identity to the author for further clarifications and/or guidance; otherwise a double-blind process is used.
Report: A reviewer’s report can be in a narrative form, addressing whether the manuscript:
- is publishable as submitted;
- is publishable but its quality could be improved by taking into account x,y,z;
- needs to be revised to address listed matters before it can be published;
- needs major revisions as indicated by the reviewer and be re-submitted for reviews; or
- is not suitable for publication.
++++++++++ Adopted: September 2021++++++++++