PEER REVIEW PROCESS
- First reading
The first reading is a cursory reading. It will help you get an initial impression of the work and get a sense of whether your possible recommendation will be to accept or reject the work.
Try to keep the following questions in mind - they will help you form your overall impression:
- What is the main hypothesis that the research deals with in the paper? Is it relevant and interesting?
- How original is the theme? What does it add to the subject area compared to other published research papers?
- Is the paper well written? Is the text clear and easy to read?
- Are the conclusions consistent with the evidence presented in the paper itself? Do they answer the main question or hypothesis?
- If the author strongly disagrees with the current academic consensus, does he have an appropriate argument for this?
- If the paper includes tables, figures, or graphs, what do they add to the paper? Do they help to understand the work or are they redundant?
1.1. Spotting potential major flaws
Although you should read the entire paper, choosing the right one to read first can save you time by flagging major flaws early.
Examples of possible major defects include:
- Drawing a conclusion that contradicts the author's own statistical or qualitative evidence.
- Using inappropriate research methods.
- Ignoring processes that are known to have a major impact on the area under consideration in the paper.
- If the experimental part is highlighted in the paper, first check that the methodology used is good - if not, this is likely to be a major flaw.
1.2. Errors in information
If the methodology is not a problem, the numerical data in the tables as well as the pictures should be reviewed correctly. In scientific research, everything usually revolves around collected data and information. If there are major flaws in it, it is very likely that the manuscript will have to be rejected. Such problems include:
- Insufficient data;
- Unclear data tables;
- Contradictory data or data that are not self-consistent or do not agree with the conclusions;
- The above data add little, or almost nothing, to the full understanding of the research conducted;
If you find major gaps or problems with the data, provide your reasoning and clear evidence on which to base your opinion (including specific citations).
1.3. Conclusions of the first reading
After the first reading and using your notes, including those with any major or minor flaws you found, compose the first two parts of your review – the first summarizing the research question you are addressing and the second the contribution of the paper.
1.3.1. First part
Here you should state the main question to which the research relates and summarize the objectives, approaches and conclusions of the work. You should thereby:
- Help the editor to properly rank the work;
- Show the author what are the key messages to convey to the reader to make sure they achieve what they set out to do:
Focus on the good things in the paper to give the author a sense of what he did well.
1.3.2. Second part
It should provide a conceptual overview of the research contribution. Therefore, the following should be considered:
- Is the premise of the work interesting and important?
- Are the methods used appropriate?
- Does the data support the conclusions?
After putting these two parts together, you should be in a position to decide whether this manuscript is seriously flawed and should be discarded (see also the following sections of the guide). Or it is in principle possible to publish it and deserves a detailed, careful re-reading.
1.4. Rejection after first reading
Even if you have come to the opinion that the paper you are reviewing has serious flaws, be sure to read the entire paper. This is very important because you can find some very positive aspects that can be passed on to the author, which could help them with future submissions.
A complete reading will also ensure that all initial statements are truly accurate and fair. After all, you need to know the entire work before you decide to reject it.
- Second reading
After the paper has passed your first reading and you have decided that the paper is most likely publishable, the purpose of a second but detailed reading is to help prepare the manuscript for publication. Of course, you still have the option to suggest that the paper be rejected after the second reading.
The criterion for acceptance is whether the paper contributes to the knowledge base or to the understanding of certain phenomena. A thorough reading should take no more than an hour for the average experienced reviewer.
We will also give some recommendations to save time and simplify the review:
- Don't just rely on adding comments to your work - make your own notes;
- Try to group doubts and compliments in separate notes - it will surely help you later;
- Mark the text that your notes refer to, which helps you quickly find what you need;
- If you have 2 monitors, keep images, graphs and tables in the window of the second monitor or other computer;
Once you have completed all your preparations, spend an hour or more reading the paper carefully.
2.1. Conducting a second reading
As you read the manuscript a second time, pay attention to:
- Every word and sentence, to the clarity of the content;
- Mark anything that is unclear or ambiguous;
- Mark all factual errors and invalid arguments.
You should also consider the following:
- Does the title of the paper correctly determine the topic of the paper?
- Does the abstract provide enough information about the paper?
- Do the keywords accurately define the content of the paper?
- Is the work of the appropriate scope?
- Are the key messages short, to the point and clear?
- Was appropriate language used?
- Is each subheading well written?
- Is the text comprehensibly written?
Remember that the reviewer's role is to judge the content of the research and do not waste time correcting grammar or spelling.
2.2. Second reading: Guidelines for each part of the paper
- Is the "Summary - Abstract" related to the topic?
- Is the introduction well written?
- It is usual for the "Introduction" to end by stating the research objectives.
- The topic must be current
- Keep in mind that with current events, the authors can claim that the topic has not been researched for several years and that new research is needed or that better instruments for some measurements have appeared.
- Academic research should be repeatable and follow best practice. Where research cannot be replicated, the paper should be recommended for rejection.
- Is the equipment or sampling method used detailed?
- The author of the paper should provide enough details so that other researchers can conduct the same research,
so that others can follow the same steps.
- If the methods used are not explained in detail, it should be requested that the part of the text with the method be changed.
- Statistical analyzes are no good if the methods cannot be repeated.
- If there is insufficient data, a revision should be recommended.
- If the research does not use certain standards of best practice, the paper should be rejected.
Results and discussion
- Need to see what was revealed or confirmed?
- The author must follow certain patterns of good reporting:
- In the discussion, the author should begin with a simple description of what the data show.
- The author should call for statistical analyses, which refer to significance or compliance.
- After the author has described what the data show, he should evaluate the observed trends and explain the importance of the results to a broader understanding.
- The result of the discussion should be a critical analysis of the collected data.
- The author should have gathered all the information into a single whole, and described and discussed all the results.
- If there are gaps or inconsistencies in the results, you as a reviewer should suggest to the author what to improve and add to his research.
Collected information: Figures, graphs and tables of data
- Check for errors in data collection.
- The trends seen from the data should provide discussion and conclusions in the paper.
- Check if there is enough data to support the trends described by the author?
- It should be checked whether the images have been edited or manipulated to emphasize certain statements being made.
- Conclusions should focus on the objectives – whether they were achieved or not.
- This part of the paper must not have more than a few paragraphs and can be presented as part of the results and discussion.
- If the conclusions are not based on evidence, the authors should be asked to rewrite them.
List of literature
- The reviewer must check the accuracy, adequacy and balance of referencing.
- Referencing should be checked for appropriateness:
- Are the essential parts of the work supported by relevant literature?
- Are there published papers that show similar or different trends to the ones discussed in the paper?
- You should not be guided only by the number of citations and indicated references, but more by their quality.
- References should be relevant, recent and easily accessible.
- One should not rely too much on self-quotes.
- If plagiarism is suspected, including self-plagiarism, use software that can check for plagiarism. If you don't have such software, ask the editor to do it.
- How to structure your report
- Since there is a formal report format you should follow it.
- List any major deficiencies or weaknesses in the work.
- If major revisions are needed in the work, clearly indicate what they are.
- If the references are incorrect or the citations are excessive, this should be indicated.
- State whether all tables and figures are appropriate, accessible and correctly labelled.
- Be polite, honest, clear, objective and constructive.
- Please note that your review should help the author improve his article.
- Treat the work you are reviewing as you would want other reviewers to treat yours.
- If you recommend accepting the work, please explain why, and if there are areas in the work that could be improved.
- If improvements are necessary, a recommendation for a major or minor revision should be made. You can specify whether you want to opt in or out of the post-audit review. If you are recommending a revision, please indicate the specific changes you feel are necessary.
- Where a manuscript has serious flaws it should be rejected. If you recommend rejection, state this clearly.
- Review result
The reviewer's rating should at least include:
- Evaluation of the originality of the work, and scientific or professional contribution;
- Evaluation of the relevance or applicability of the work;
- Evaluation of the used methodology;
- Proposal for classification in the appropriate category or type of work;
- Evaluation of used literature and citations
- Consent to publish the work.
Reviewer's final opinion:
- The paper is recommended for publication;
- The paper is recommended for publication with corrections;
- The work is not recommended for publication.