Before you accept or decline an invitation to review, consider the following questions:
Respond to the invitation as soon as you can (even if it is to decline) – a delay in your decision slows down the review process and means more waiting for the author.
If you do decline the invitation, it would be helpful if you could provide suggestions for alternative reviewers.
If you accept, you must treat the materials you receive as confidential documents. This means you can’t share them with anyone without prior authorization from the editor. Since peer review is confidential, you also must not share information about the review with anyone without permission from the editors and authors.
Your review will be managed via an online submission system eJManager.
If the journal in question does not require you to respond to a list of specific questions, you might find it helpful to consider the below points before preparing your comments to the editor/author(s):
In any case, your first task is to read the article. You might consider spot checking major issues by choosing which section to read first. Below we offer some tips about handling specific parts of the paper.
If the manuscript you are reviewing is reporting an experiment, check the methods section first. The following cases are considered major flaws and should be flagged:
For analytical papers examine the sampling report, which is mandated in time-dependent studies. For qualitative research make sure that a systematic data analysis is presented and sufficient descriptive elements with relevant quotes from interviews are listed in addition to the author’s narrative.
Although it might sound late, given that the research has already been concluded and the data analyzed, the peer review process can still play an important role in ensuring effective, transparent and complete sex and gender reporting.
Assess manuscripts for inclusion of sex-disaggregated data and gender analysis. It could well be that the study was not designed to analyze sex and/or gender. Nevertheless, we recommend referees to consider if sex and gender are relevant to the topic of the study, and whether the study follows relevant guidelines, wherever applicable.
As a general principle, the SAGER guidelines recommend careful use of the words “sex” and “gender” in order to avoid confusing both terms. The use of common definitions will improve the ability to conduct meta-analyses of published and archived data. The term “sex” should be used as a classification of male or female based on biological distinction to the extent that this is possible to confirm. Per Heidari et al.: "Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours and identities of female, male and gender-diverse people . It influences how people perceive themselves and each other, how they behave and interact and the distribution of power and resources in society. Gender is usually incorrectly conceptualized as a binary (female/ male) factor. In reality, there is a spectrum of gender identities and expressions defining how individuals identify themselves and express their gender."
Please check if authors have underlined in the methods section whether the sex of participants was defined based on self-report or assigned following external or internal examination of body characteristics, or through genetic testing or other means. In studies of animals, the term “sex” should be used. In cell biological, molecular biological or biochemical experiments, the origin and sex chromosome constitutions of cells or tissue cultures should be stated. If unknown, the reasons should be stated. In other disciplines, such as the testing of devices or technology, authors should explain whether it will be applied or used by all genders and if it has been tested with a user’s gender in mind.
Once you are satisfied that the methodology is sufficiently robust, examine any data in the form of figures, tables, or images. Authors may add research data, including data visualizations, to their submission to enable readers to interact and engage more closely with their research after publication. Please be aware that links to data might therefore be present in the submission files. These items should also receive your attention during the peer review process.
Critical issues in research data, which are considered to be major flaws can be related to insufficient data points, statistically non-significant variations and unclear data tables.
Experiments including patient or animal data should properly be documented. Most journals require ethical approval by the author’s host organization.
If you don’t spot any major flaws, take a break from the manuscript, giving you time to think. Consider the article from your own perspective. When you sit down to write the review, again make sure you familiarize yourself with any journal-specific guidelines (these will be noted in the journal’s guide for authors).
Your review will help the editor decide whether or not to publish the article. It will also aid the author and allow them to improve their manuscript. Giving your overall opinion and general observations of the article is essential. Your comments should be courteous and constructive, and should not include any ad hominem remarks or personal details including your name.
Providing insight into any deficiencies is important. You should explain and support your judgement so that both editors and authors are able to fully understand the reasoning behind your comments. You should indicate whether your comments are your own opinion or are reflected by the data and evidence.
When you make a recommendation, it is worth considering the categories the editor will likely use for classifying the article:
The editor ultimately decides whether to accept or reject the article. The editor will weigh all views and may call for another opinion or ask the author for a revised paper before making a decision.
Peer reviewers are fundamental to the peer review process; therefore, we recognise their vital role by publishing annual reviewer acknowledgements (e.g. see here).
Biomedical Research and Therapy will partner with Publons a service that seamlessly tracks, verifies and showcases peer review activity across all of the world’s journals, allowing reviewers to showcase their activity.
Get recognition for your reviews of Biomedical Research and Therapy in Publons:
+ Reviewers can set up a profile on Publons at https://publons.com
+ You can then manually add any reviews completed from throughout your entire career by forwarding the reviewer receipt email to firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out the online form from your account
Authors can get the General Certifate of Reviewing in the Reviewer's Panel. The sample of certificate is here.