The review process
submitted manuscripts are read by the editorial staff. To save time for authors
and peer-reviewers, only those papers that seem most likely to meet our
editorial criteria are sent for formal review. Those papers judged by the
editors to be of insufficient general interest or otherwise inappropriate are
rejected promptly without external review (although these decisions may be based
on informal advice from specialists in the field).
reviews will be saved in the editorial archive for five years and according to
the demand could be submitted to the Ministry of science and education of
Manuscripts judged to be of potential interest to our readership are sent for
formal review, typically to two or three reviewers, but sometimes more if
special advice is needed (for example on statistics or a particular technique).
The editors then make a decision based on the reviewers' advice, from among
with or without editorial revisions
authors to revise their manuscript to address specific concerns before a final
decision is reached
but indicate to the authors that further work might justify a resubmission
outright, typically on grounds of specialist interest, lack of novelty,
insufficient conceptual advance or major technical and/or interpretational
are welcome to recommend a particular course of action, but they should bear in
mind that the other reviewers of a particular paper may have different technical
expertise and/or views, and the editors may have to make a decision based on
conflicting advice. The most useful reports, therefore, provide the editors with
the information on which a decision should be based. Setting out the arguments
for and against publication is often more helpful to the editors than a direct
recommendation one way or the other.
decisions are not a matter of counting votes or numerical rank assessments, and
we do not always follow the majority recommendation. We try to evaluate the
strength of the arguments raised by each reviewer and by the authors, and we may
also consider other information not available to either party. Our primary
responsibilities are to our readers and to the scientific community at large,
and in deciding how best to serve them, we must weigh the claims of each paper
against the many others also under consideration.
return to reviewers for further advice, particularly in cases where they
disagree with each other, or where the authors believe they have been
misunderstood on points of fact. We therefore ask that reviewers should be
willing to provide follow-up advice as requested. We are very aware, however,
that reviewers are usually reluctant to be drawn into prolonged disputes, so we
try to keep consultation to the minimum we judge necessary to provide a fair
hearing for the authors.
reviewers agree to assess a paper, we consider this a commitment to review
subsequent revisions. However, editors will not send a resubmitted paper back to
the reviewers if it seems that the authors have not made a serious attempt to
address the criticisms.
reviewers' criticisms seriously; in particular, we are very reluctant to
disregard technical criticisms. In cases where one reviewer alone opposes
publication, we may consult the other reviewers as to whether s/he is applying
an unduly critical standard. We occasionally bring in additional reviewers to
resolve disputes, but we prefer to avoid doing so unless there is a specific
issue, for example a specialist technical point, on which we feel a need for
selection is critical to the publication process, and we base our choice on many
factors, including expertise, reputation, specific recommendations and our own
previous experience of a reviewer's characteristics. For instance, we avoid
using people who are slow, careless, or do not provide reasoning for their
views, whether harsh or lenient.
with potential reviewers before sending them manuscripts to review. Reviewers
should bear in mind that these messages contain confidential information, which
should be treated as such.
primary purpose of the review is to provide the editors with the information
needed to reach a decision but the review should also instruct the authors on
how they can strengthen their paper to the point where it may be acceptable. As
far as possible, a negative review should explain to the authors the major
weaknesses of their manuscript, so that rejected authors can understand the
basis for the decision and see in broad terms what needs to be done to improve
the manuscript for publication elsewhere. Referees should not feel obliged to
provide detailed, constructive advice regarding minor criticisms of the
manuscript if it does not meet the criteria for the journal (as outlined in the
letter from the editor when asking for the review).
We do not
release reviewers' identities to authors or to other reviewers, except when
reviewers specifically ask to be identified. Unless they feel strongly, however,
we prefer that reviewers should remain anonymous throughout the review process
and beyond. Before revealing their identities, reviewers should consider the
possibility that they may be asked to comment on the criticisms of other
reviewers and on further revisions of the manuscript; identified reviewers may
find it more difficult to be objective in such circumstances.
reviewers not to identify themselves to authors without the editor's knowledge.
If they wish to reveal their identities while the manuscript is under
consideration, this should be done via the editor, or if this is not
practicable, we ask authors to inform the editor as soon as possible after the
reviewer has revealed his or her identity to the author.
any attempt by authors to confront reviewers or determine their identities. Our
own policy is to neither confirm nor deny any speculation about reviewers'
identities, and we encourage reviewers to adopt a similar policy.
blind peer review:
journal offer also double-blind peer review option. Authors who choose this
option at submission remain anonymous to the referees throughout the
editors' experience that the peer-review process is an essential part of the
publication process, which improves the manuscripts our journals publish. Not
only does peer review provide an independent assessment of the importance and
technical accuracy of the results described, but the feedback from referees
conveyed to authors with the editors' advice frequently results in manuscripts
being refined so that their structure and logic is more readily apparent to
Reviewing peer review
review is designed to select technically valid research of significant interest.
Referees are expected to identify flaws, suggest improvements and assess
novelty. If the manuscript is deemed important enough to be published in a high
visibility journal, referees ensure that it is internally consistent, thereby
ferreting out spurious conclusions or clumsy frauds.
problem with manuscript selection is the inherent tension between referees and
authors. Referees wish for only the most solid science to be published, yet when
they 'switch hats' to that of author, they desire quick publication of their
novel ideas and approaches. Authors of papers that blow against the prevailing
winds bear a far greater burden of proof than normally expected in publishing
their challenge to the current paradigm. Veering too far in one direction or the
other leads to complaints either that peer review isn't stringent enough, or
that it is stifling the freshest research. It is the job of the editors to try
to avoid both extremes.
editors do not expect peer review to ferret out cleverly concealed, deliberate
deceptions. A peer reviewer can only evaluate what the authors chose to include
in the manuscript. This contrasts with the expectation in the popular press that
peer review is a process by which fraudulent data is detected before publication
(although that sometimes happens).
continually impressed with peer review's positive impact on almost every paper
we publish. Even papers that are misunderstood by reviewers are usually
rewritten and improved before resubmission. Mistakes are made, but peer review,
through conscientious effort on the part of referees, helps to protect the
literature, promote good science and select the best. Until a truly viable
alternative is provided, we wouldn't have it any other way.
Peer-review publication policies
condition of agreeing to assess the manuscript, all reviewers undertake to keep
submitted manuscripts, associated data, and their own peer review comments
confidential, and not to redistribute them without permission from the journal.
If a reviewer seeks advice from colleagues while assessing a manuscript, he or
she ensures that confidentiality is maintained and that the names of any such
colleagues are provided to the journal with the final report. Peer review
comments should remain confidential after publication unless the referee obtains
permission from the corresponding author of the reviewed manuscript.
should be aware that it is our policy to keep their names confidential, and that
we do our utmost to ensure this confidentiality. Under normal circumstances,
blind peer-review is protected from legislation. We cannot, however, guarantee
to maintain this confidentiality in the face of a successful legal action to
disclose identity in the event of a reviewer having written personally
derogatory comments about the authors in his or her reports. For this reason as
well as for reasons of standard professional courtesy, we request reviewers to
refrain from personally negative comments about the authors of submitted
manuscripts. Frank comments about the scientific content of the manuscripts,
however, are strongly encouraged by the editors.
all publishing decisions, the ultimate decision whether to publish is the
responsibility of the editor and editorial board of the journal concerned.