I also consider the journal. I am more willing to review for journals that I read or publish in. Before I became an editor, I used to be fairly eclectic in the journals I reviewed for, but now I tend to be more discerning, since my editing duties take up much of my reviewing time.
Some journals have structured review criteria; others just ask for general and specific comments. Knowing this in advance helps save time later. I almost never print out papers for review; I prefer to work with the electronic version. I always read the paper sequentially, from start to finish, making comments on the PDF as I go along. I look for specific indicators of research quality, asking myself questions such as: Are the background literature and study rationale clearly articulated?
Do the hypotheses follow logically from previous work? Are the methods robust and well controlled? Are the reported analyses appropriate? I usually pay close attention to the use—and misuse—of frequentist statistics. Is the presentation of results clear and accessible?
To what extent does the Discussion place the findings in a wider context and achieve a balance between interpretation and useful speculation versus tedious waffling? First, is it well written? That usually becomes apparent by the Methods section. Then, throughout, if what I am reading is only partly comprehensible, I do not spend a lot of energy trying to make sense of it, but in my review I will relay the ambiguities to the author.
I should also have a good idea of the hypothesis and context within the first few pages, and it matters whether the hypothesis makes sense or is interesting.
Then I read the Methods section very carefully. Mostly I am concerned with credibility: Could this methodology have answered their question? Then I look at how convincing the results are and how careful the description is. Sloppiness anywhere makes me worry. The parts of the Discussion I focus on most are context and whether the authors make claims that overreach the data. This is done all the time, to varying degrees. I want statements of fact, not opinion or speculation, backed up by data.
There are a few aspects that I make sure to address, though I cover a lot more ground as well. First, I consider how the question being addressed fits into the current status of our knowledge. Second, I ponder how well the work that was conducted actually addresses the central question posed in the paper. In my field, authors are under pressure to broadly sell their work, and it's my job as a reviewer to address the validity of such claims. Third, I make sure that the design of the methods and analyses are appropriate.
What is the paper about? How is it structured? I also pay attention to the schemes and figures; if they are well designed and organized, then in most cases the entire paper has also been carefully thought out. When diving in deeper, first I try to assess whether all the important papers are cited in the references, as that also often correlates with the quality of the manuscript itself. Then, right in the Introduction, you can often recognize whether the authors considered the full context of their topic.
It is also very important that the authors guide you through the whole article and explain every table, every figure, and every scheme. On the other hand, with the Internet and all my PDFs in front of me, I tended to generate sentences that were very dense with information but not necessarily closely related to each other — and not always pertinent to the specific scientific narratives I was attempting to compose. I started making real progress on the writing only when I spent a few August afternoons sitting on the roof deck of my apartment building with a pen and paper and no Internet-capable devices.
Yes, I sometimes wrote things that were wrong or at least imperfect when constructing a section from memory. However, I often ended up with a strong scaffolding onto which I could later add some of those dense, fact-laden sentences. This was easy in my case, because my adviser and I both preferred that I be the main researcher and writer and that he act as a consultant on high-level issues.
However, I am keenly aware of other cases that did not work out nearly as congenially. Pay very close attention to the graphical requirements for figures. Make sure to get permission to reproduce any figures in your review.
This usually is done by following the permissions instructions on the website of the journal in which the original figure appeared. Get familiar with software like Papers or any other PDF-management software , EndNote and Adobe Illustrator or whatever graphics program the journal suggests.
Your labmates and collaborators also can help you with the editing process. Regardless, a rude critique does not justify a rude response from you, especially because your primary goal is to publish your scientific results. Rule 3: Accept the blame If the reviewer failed to understand something, apologize for not making it clear. Even if you are convinced that the text is already clear i. In general, even if the requested change seems unnecessary, it is usually better to go ahead and revise with the goal of showing the reviewer that they were listened to and understood.
Rule 4: Make the response self-contained When you make changes to the text or to figures, quote the changes directly in the response. If possible, you can refer to the specific line number where the changes were applied, though you should be sure to specify whether you refer to the line numbers from the original or the revised manuscript.
A self-contained response letter makes it easier for the reviewer to understand exactly what you did without having to flip back and forth between your manuscript and the response. Furthermore, by making your response self-contained, you reduce the likelihood that the reviewer will read the full manuscript and find new things to complain about.
The only exception to this rule is when a large chunk of modified text e. Such changes can simply be alluded to explicitly e. Rule 5: Respond to every point raised by the reviewer A frequent complaint from reviewers is that the authors failed to respond at all to several points raised in the review.
In some cases, the reviewer may disagree with your response, but you should not try to avoid a difficult point by simply ignoring it. Often, reviews will be organized into bullet points, but the reviewer may raise 2 separate issues within 1 bullet.
In such situations, be sure to respond explicitly to both critiques. It is fine for you to interleave your responses in such a way that you break up 1 bullet with multiple responses. Having the name of one or more well-known professors on the paper does not mean that its quality is excellent. Concentrate more on the content rather than names.
In the same way, getting a paper from a well-known institute does not mean it is a quality paper. Never, ever look at the country of origin of the paper or institute. Nowadays, science is everywhere, and you may get a high-quality paper from a very developing country. In software engineering, for example, an excellent outcome may come from a researcher who sits in an impoverished village with one computer and an internet connection. There are no boundaries, and not limitations nowadays.
When you start reading the paper, first open a text editor file and write down your notes. Do the review in two stage, first is the fast screening review, and Second, detail review.
While you read the paper in detail in the second stage, in the first stage, just write general comments about the paper. For example, in the first stage, write about the preparation of the paper, quality of the graphs, references style, … Etc.
When you know that this work is from a new Ph. Maybe it is his first time writing a scientific paper. Try to give him useful advice even if you are going to reject the paper. Try to be his supervisor for one hour and provide him with advice to improve his work. Your harsh feedback may hurt him without knowing that. He may not get sleep for two days It happened to me during my Ph. With those old and well-known professors, I tend to be tough.
Specify exactly the point of weakness and where in the paper? To make this paper publishable, the author needs to respond to the following substantive points… Linguistic alterations This paper would benefit from some closer proofreading. It includes many linguistic errors e.
It may be useful to engage a professional English language editor following a restructure of the paper. The paper would benefit from stylistic changes to the way it has been written for a stronger, clearer, and more compelling argument.
There are a few sentences that need rephrasing for clarity. Step 4. The specific decision types used by a journal will vary, but the key decisions are: Accept. The paper is suitable for publication in its current form.
Minor revision. The paper will be ready for publication after light revisions. Please list the revisions you would recommend the author makes.
Major revision. The paper needs substantial changes such as expanded data analysis, widening of the literature review, or rewriting sections of the text. The revised version is usually returned to the original reviewer if possible. The reviewer is then asked to affirm whether the revisions are satisfactory. They should judge each on its merits, without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the author s.
Reviewers must declare any conflict of interest before agreeing to review a manuscript. This includes any relationship with the author that may bias their review. Reviewers must keep the peer review process confidential. They must not share information or correspondence about a manuscript with anyone outside of the peer review process. Reviewers should provide a constructive, comprehensive, evidenced, and appropriately substantial peer review report.
Reviewers should make all reasonable effort to submit their report and recommendation on time. They should inform the editor if this is not possible. Read key findings from our white paper research — Peer review: a global view Reviewer recognition Reviewers invest a huge amount of time and expertise in the peer review process.
They can present it to employers, their institution, or simply hang it on the office wall!Citation: Noble WS Ten simple best essay writing on global warming for writing a journal to reviewers. PLoS Comput Biol writing 10 : e This review an open review article distributed under the terms paper the Creative Commons Attribution Licensewhich permits paper use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Funding: The author received no specific funding for this work. Competing interests: The author has declared that no competing interests exist. You recently submitted your first manuscript writing publication, and you were pleased when the journal decided to send the manuscript out for peer review.
.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Rule 1: Provide an overview, then quote the full set of reviews The response letter will typically begin with a summary of changes, pointing out new data and new analyses performed in response to the most essential criticisms of all the reviewers. Find a mentor Ask a senior colleague, with experience of reviewing, whether you could work with them on a review. You can explain these typographical conventions in the introduction to your response. My reviews usually start out with a short summary and a highlight of the strengths of the manuscript before briefly listing the weaknesses that I believe should be addressed. Make suggestions on how the author can improve clarity, succinctness, and the quality of presentation.
If you feel that what you want is not possible in less than three months, it is better to reject the paper at the first stage. Hopefully, this will be used to make the manuscript better rather than to shame anyone. That makes things a lot harder for editors of the less prestigious journals, and that's why I am more inclined to take on reviews from them.
Tell them about your areas of expertise, your publication record, and your interest in reviewing.
Even if a manuscript is rejected for publication, most authors can benefit from suggestions. The quality of the figures and graphs is really a big problem.