Peer review is the system used to assess the quality of a manuscript before it is published. Independent researchers in the relevant research area assess submitted manuscripts for originality, validity, and significance to help editors determine whether a manuscript should be published in their journal.
How does it work?
When a manuscript is submitted to a journal, it is assessed to see if it meets the criteria for submission. If it does, the editorial team will select potential peer reviewers within the field of research to peer-review the manuscript and make recommendations.
Double-blind Review: the reviewers do not know the names of the authors, and the authors do not know who reviewed their manuscript.
Acts as a filter: Ensures research is properly verified before being published
Improves the quality of the research: rigorous review by other experts helps to hone key points and correct inadvertent errors
On being asked to review
Does the manuscript you are being asked to review truly match your expertise? The editor who has approached you may not know your work intimately and may only be aware of your work in a broader context. Only accept an invitation if you are competent to review the article.
Do you have time to review the manuscript? Reviewing a manuscript can be quite time-consuming. The time taken to review can vary from field to field, but a manuscript will take, on an average, one day to review properly. Will you have sufficient time before the deadline stipulated in the invitation to conduct a thorough review? If you cannot conduct the review, let the editor know immediately and if possible advise the editor of alternate reviewers.
Are there any potential conflicts of interest? A conflict of interest will not necessarily eliminate you from reviewing a manuscript, but full disclosure to the editor will allow them to make an informed decision. For example, if you work in the same department or institute as one of the authors, worked on a paper previously with an author, or have a professional or financial connection to the manuscript. These should all be listed when responding to the editor’s invitation for review.
Reviewing needs to be conducted confidentially; the manuscript you have been asked to review should not be disclosed to a third party. You should not attempt to contact the author.
Be aware when you submit your review that any recommendations you make will contribute to the final decision made by the editor.
Evaluate the manuscript according to the following
Is the manuscript sufficiently novel and interesting to warrant publication? Does it add to the canon of knowledge? Does the manuscript adhere to the journal’s standards? Is the research question an important one? In order to determine its originality and appropriateness for the journal, it might be helpful to think of the research in terms of what percentile it is in: Is it in the top 25% of papers in this field? You might wish to do a quick literature search using tools such as
reviews to see if there are any reviews of the area. If the research been covered previously, pass on references of those works to the editor.
Is the manuscript clearly laid out? In the case of the original article, are all the key elements present: abstract, introduction, material and methods, results, discussion, and references? Consider each element in turn:
If an article is poorly written due to grammatical errors, while it may make it more difficult to understand science, you do not need to correct the English. You may wish to bring it to the attention of the editor, however
If the article builds upon previous research does it reference that work appropriately? Are there any important works that have been omitted? Are the references accurate?
Plagiarism: If you suspect that a manuscript is a substantial copy of another work, let the editor know, citing the previous work in as much details as possible
Fraud: It is very difficult to detect the determined fraudster, but if you suspect the results in a manuscript to be untrue, discuss it with the editor
Other ethical concerns: If the research is medical in nature, has confidentiality been maintained? If there has been a violation of accepted norms of ethical treatment of animal or human subjects these should also be identified
Once you have completed your evaluation of the manuscript the next step is to write up your report. If it looks like you might miss your deadline, let the editor know.
Download the manuscript in word format from the link provided at www.innovpub.org pre-publication portal after your reviewer login.
Provide your report online by checking various boxes, entering comments in ‘Comments for editor’ and Comments for authors’. Provide a quick summary of the manuscript in ‘Comments to editor’. It serves the dual purpose of reminding the editor of the details of the report and also reassuring the author and editor that you understood the manuscript. You may make changes/corrections in word document of the manuscript and send it to editor by using the browse file button.
The report should contain the key elements of your review, addressing the points outlined in the preceding section (preferably identifying page and line number). Commentary should be courteous and constructive, and should not include any personal remarks or personal details including your name.
Providing insight into any deficiencies is important. You should explain and support your judgment so that both editors and authors are better able to understand the basis of the comments. You should indicate whether your comments are your own opinion or reflected by data.
When you make a recommendation regarding a manuscript, it is worth considering the categories an editor will likely use for the classifying the article.
In cases of 2 to 4 clearly identify what revision is required, and indicate to the editor whether or not you would be happy to see/ review the revised article.