Peer review is essential to the journal  in making editorial decisions and assisting authors in manuscript improvement. Reviewers should point out relevant publications not cited in the manuscript and point out any similarities with previously published works. Reviewers should not consider manuscripts with conflicts of interest, competitive, financial, or collaborative. If a potential reviewer feels unqualified to review the manuscript, that reviewer should notify the editor immediately and decline the review. Manuscripts received for review will be treated as confidential documents and not shown or discussed with other without authorization from the editor. Authors should expect to receive reviewer reports in a prompt manner, normally within two weeks. Reviewer misconduct (breach of confidentiality, delay of peer review, plagiarism, or conflicts of interest) will not be tolerated.

Guidelines for Reviewers before accepting a Review request:

  • Check whether the paper deals with your subject area
  • Check the deadline and decide whether you will be able to meet it.
  • If you are unable to do the review communicate to the Editor immediately. The Editor may give you an extension.
  • Suggest replacement reviewers to the Editor.
  • Inform the Editor if your circumstances change.
  • Declare conflicts of interest, if any, to the Editor immediately.
  • Decide on whether you will be able to provide an unbiased review.

During Review:

  • Refer to the Journal’s guidelines, aims and scope to decide whether the article meets them.
  • Highlight any ethical concerns with the conduct of research, analysis or presentation of data.
  • Provide constructive feedback on the manuscript’s strength and weakness.
  • Be professional and considerate, clear and concise in your response.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for clarifications if there are aspects of communication that you do not understand.
  • Mention to the Editor if you are unsure about the different methods, analysis or statistics involved in the manuscript.
  • Proof-read your work including email to the Editor and comments to the author before sending.
  • Your review should be well structured and free of errors. This shows that you have taken enough time and given care to properly consider the article.
  • Be honest and critical in your review, but be polite and constructive.
  • Maintain the confidentiality of the research paper.
  • Meet the deadline. Missed deadlines will delay the peer review process and subsequent publication.

On suspecting a breach of scientific conduct:

On rare occasions, a reviewer might suspect a breach of scientific conduct, such as plagiarism, unattributed reuse of ideas or figures generated by different authors, or data and image manipulations.

If you suspect that text may have been copied, put it between quotes and search online (Google Scholar is particularly helpful for this) to see if it appears in another article.

  • It is not acceptable to copy complete paragraphs from other papers, even if they were written by the same authors. This self-plagiarism is still considered unethical and a potential breach of copyright if not properly credited and referenced.
  • Stretches of text shorter than 10 words in quotation marks, or verbatim copies of definitions are often acceptable and should not be considered plagiarism.
  • Another acceptable form of text reuse would be a short description of a particular method, cell line, or analysis tool in the Materials and Methods section.
  • Figures from published articles should be accompanied by a citation under the image. It would be good practice to confirm with the Editor that they have received it.
  • Authors should have kept a copy of the original, unaltered file of every figure – so if you doubt the legitimacy of an image, raise it with the editor, to ask they request the original files.

Suspicious cases should be handled extremely carefully as they can have serious implications for the careers of all parties involved.

If you are convinced that some form of transgression has occurred, raise your concerns privately with the Editors. Our peer review systems have a box for “Confidential Comments to the Editor” for such instances.