Guidelines for Peer Review Process

Research Management Cell, J S M M Campus Lahan

1.1 Introduction

This guide (GPRP in short) is prepared with the aim of helping the editorial board of Journal publication peer review manuscripts submitted for their publications in Peer Reviewed Journals through Research Management Cell. Reading this should answer most of the queries the board has and guide it in completing a peer review report in the most thorough and prompt way to ensure the paper is properly reviewed and published quickly. All manuscripts submitted to RMC journals are subject to single blind peer review. We believe that using anonymous peer reviewers is the best way to get honest opinions on papers. RMC follows the following outline of the manuscript lifecycle, from submission to publication.

1.2 Peer Review

Peer review is the process in which manuscripts are sent to impartial experts in the field who evaluate their quality and scientific soundness before publication. The exact process used for peer review varies between publishers and from journal to journal, but generally the method will fall into one of three categories:

Single blind: authors’ identities are known to reviewers, but reviewers are anonymous

Double blind: both authors’ and reviewers’ identities are kept from each other

Open peer review: authors’ and reviewers’ identities are disclosed, and reviewer comments and author responses are publicly available

The second method, i.e. Double blind is followed by this publication board.

1.3 Importance of peer review  

Peer reviewers’ comments and recommendations are an essential guide to inform the editor’s decision on a manuscript. Peer review ensures that manuscripts receive unbiased critique and expert feedback, allowing authors to improve their manuscript and therefore high quality scientific research and reviews to be published. It also helps the readers to trust the scientific integrity of the article and to make informed decisions where peer reviewer comments are available.

1.4 Peer Reviewer Team

The RMC will form a peer reviewer team including the experts from different disciplines. The formation will be based on the requirement of the articles sent for the publication of the coming volume. Its members will be individually consulted and the board will finalize reviewing fees, duration of reviewing and others as well. The board will select the reviewers who have sound experiences in the field of research works. The Peer Reviewers will be requested to consider the following points for effectiveness:

  • After receiving a request to peer review it is essential that peer reviewers respond in a timely fashion, particularly if they cannot do the review, to avoid unnecessarily delaying the process.
  • Peer reviewers should declare any conflicts of interest (seeking advice from the publisher if they are unsure), and possess sufficient knowledge in the field to perform a thorough assessment of the manuscript.
  • Peer reviewers must keep any information regarding the identity of the authors and the content of the manuscript confidential.
  • Peer review comments should be objective and constructive without being of a hostile or derogatory nature.
  • For further information on ethical peer review issues and conflicts of interest, they are requested to consult the publication board.

1.5 Writing the Report

Peer reviewers should assess the major strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript as well as look at the statistical or other power of the study if relevant.

In the first part of their report, peer reviewers should write a short summary describing their assessment of the manuscript. They should then provide general comments to be addressed, followed by any specific comments they may have. Comments should be numbered so that authors can easily refer to them in their point-by-point response to referee comments. All requested major revisions should be clearly outlined. Minor revisions should also be mentioned where peer reviewers feel these will improve the manuscript’s clarity and purpose.

If any form of misconduct is suspected such as plagiarism, undeclared conflicts of interest, falsification of results etc., these should be expressed directly in confidence to the Editor-in-Chief of the journal.

Peer reviewers must ensure that they answer the following questions in their report:

  • In general, is the paper easy to follow and does it have a logical flow?
  • Does the grammar, punctuation or spelling need to be corrected?
  • Does the paper fit the aims and scope of the journal? (Each journal has an “Aims and Scope” link on the upper right of its home page).
  • Do the title and abstract cover the main aspects of the work?
  • Are the results novel? Does the study provide an advance in the field?
  • Did the study gain ethical approval appropriate to the country in which the research was performed if human or animal subjects were involved and is it stated in the manuscript?
  • Are the methods clear and replicable?
  • Is the statistical analysis appropriate to the study design?
  • Are the controls appropriate for the study design?
  • Do all the results presented match the methods described?
  • Is the data clearly and appropriately presented using clear language?
  • Did the authors make the underlying data available to the readers?
  • Do the conclusions correlate to the results found?
  • Does the paper raise any ethical concerns?
  • Are images appropriate for the article? If there are any concerns about duplication or manipulation in images, please raise potential issues.

Peer reviewers should provide the Editor-in-Chief with a recommendation regarding the suitability of the manuscript for publication. They can recommend that the manuscript should be accepted for publication with revisions (“revise and resubmit”), accepted without revisions, or rejected.

Peer reviewers should clearly explain their choice and provide a score from 1-9 detailing the quality of the manuscript (manuscripts with a score of 1 are of outstanding quality).

The table below provides the scoring system and gives the definition of each number.

ScoreDescription Suggested Action 
1OutstandingNo improvement needed.
2ExcellentAccept after discretionary revisions.
3Very goodSome minor revisions needed.
4GoodSeveral minor revisions needed.
5SatisfactoryMultiple minor revisions needed.
6FairOne major revision and several minor revisions needed.
7PoorSome major revisions needed with multiple minor revisions required.
8Very poorMajor revisions needed to improve scientific validity and/or clarity.
9FlawedThe manuscript has major flaws that cannot be improved with revisions.

Discretionary Revision: An optional revision that may improve the overall quality of the manuscript but does not affect the scientific validity of the study.

Minor Revisions: Issues that must be addressed by the author(s) before publication in order to adhere to scientific reporting standards, or issues affecting clarity.

Major Revisions: Major revisions needed which may consist of a lack of ethical consent statement, a conclusion contradicted by results, further experiments needed to support the conclusions (e.g. controls), unclear figures and tables etc.

1.6 Re-review request

Peer reviewers may be requested to re-review the authors’ revised manuscript and point-by-point responses to their comments. Upon re-review, peer reviewers must ensure that all issues raised in the initial peer review report have been addressed and, if necessary, amended by the authors appropriately. Peer reviewers should once more assess the manuscript using the guidelines above and provide a revised recommendation.