How to Conduct a Review
1- Before you begin
Before you accept or decline an invitation to review, consider the following questions:
Respond to the invitation as soon as you can (even if it is to decline) – a delay in your decision slows down the review process and means more waiting for the author. If you do decline the invitation, it would be helpful if you could provide suggestions for alternative reviewers.
2- Managing your review
If you accept, you must treat the materials you receive as confidential documents. This means you can’t share them with anyone without prior authorization from the editor. Since peer review is confidential, you also must not share information about the review with anyone without permission from the editors and authors.
How to log in and access your review
Your review will be managed via a journal submission system such as Open Journal Systems use different submission systems so there is no one generic login link. To access the paper and deliver your review, click on the link in the invitation email you received which will bring you to the submission/reviewing system.
When you sit down to write the review, make sure you familiarize yourself with any journal-specific guidelines (these will be noted in the journal’s guide for authors available on each journal’s homepage).
First, read the article. You might consider spot-checking major issues by choosing which section to read first. Below we offer some tips about handling specific parts of the paper.
If the manuscript you are reviewing is reporting an experiment, check the methods section first. The following cases are considered major flaws and should be flagged:
For analytical papers examine the sampling report, which is mandated in time-dependent studies. For qualitative research make sure that systematic data analysis is presented and sufficient descriptive elements with relevant quotes from interviews are listed in addition to the author’s narrative.
Experiments including patient or animal data should properly be documented. Most journals require ethical approval by the author’s host organization. Please check journal-specific guidelines for such cases (available from the journal’s homepage).
If you don’t spot any major flaws, take a break from the manuscript, giving you time to think. Consider the article from your own perspective. When you sit down to write the review, again make sure you familiarize yourself with any journal-specific guidelines (these will be noted in the journal’s guide for authors).
3. Structuring your review
Your review will help the editor decide whether or not to publish the article. It will also aid the author and allow them to improve their manuscript. Giving your overall opinion and general observations of the article is essential. Your comments should be courteous and constructive, and should not include any ad hominem remarks or personal details including your name.
The journal for which you are reviewing might have a specific format (e.g. questionnaire) or other instructions for how to structure your feedback. Below are some general tips on what to include/consider if no other guidelines apply.
When you make a recommendation, it is worth considering the categories the editor will likely use for classifying the article:
Bear in mind that there will be the opportunity to direct separate comments to both the editor and author.
The final decision
The editor ultimately decides whether to accept or reject the article. The editor will weigh all views and may call for another opinion or ask the author for a revised paper before making a decision. The submission system provides reviewers with a notification of the final decision if the journal has opted into this function.