Tips for Reviewers
It is helpful to provide a quick summary of the paper at the beginning of your report. This serves the dual purpose of reminding the editor of the details of the report and also reassuring the author and editor that you have understood the paper.
If a paper is poorly written due to grammatical errors, while it may make it more difficult to understand the science, you do not need to correct the English. You should, however, bring this to the attention of the editor.
Providing insight into any deficiencies is important. You should explain and support your judgment so that both the Editor 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.
Do not otherwise distribute copies of the paper or use results contained in it without permission from the authors. Feel free to show it to knowledgeable colleagues and to consult them about your review. Additionally, suggestions for alternative reviewers are helpful to the editors and would be appreciated.
It is the job of the referee to judge clarity and content of the paper, not issues of style. Comments dealing with issues of personal preference, such as how data is presented or writing styles or format, should be kept to a minimum. Aside from whether these sorts of comments are appropriate, having many comments of this type slows down the reviewing process considerably and should be avoided.
The peer review process is at the very core of science. It provides a mechanism whereby experts in the field evaluate the appropriateness of a particular piece of work and decide whether it should be added to the literature of the field. The gateway role of reviewing should not be taken lightly. Review the paper as seriously and carefully as you would want someone else to read your papers. Merely pointing out shortcomings is not nearly as helpful as making suggestions for improvement. If you cannot give your full attention to the review, it is much better to immediately inform the editor so it can be reassigned.
Plagiarism: If you suspect that a paper is a substantial copy of another work, please inform the Editor, citing the previous work in as much detail as possible.
Fraud: It is very difficult to detect the determined fraudster, but if you suspect the results in a paper to be untrue, discuss it with the editor.
Other ethical concerns: For research with human subjects, has confidentiality been maintained? Has there been a violation of the accepted norms in the ethical treatment of human subjects? If so, then these should also be identified to the editor.
Useful Links for Reviewers
- A brief guide to dealing with statistics for reviewers (PDF) and Statistics from Springer's Peer Review Academy
- Standing up for Science 3: Peer Review - The nuts and bolts: A guide for early career researchers
- Twelve Tips for Reviewers by Henry L. Roediger, III
- Scrutinizing science: Peer review
- Peer-Review Techniques for Novices
- How to Write an Anonymous Peer Review
- Peer Review Academy from Springer
- A Quick Guide to Writing a Solid Peer Review
- Reviewing Papers for Peer-Review Journals: A Primer for Novice and Seasoned Reviewers