When receiving an invitation to peer review, a copy of the manuscript’s abstract should be attached to your email to help you decide if the subject matter is within your specialty range, and whether you would wish to do the review. Please try to respond to our invitations promptly as to prevent delays. Please advise at this stage any possible problems such as conflict of interests, plagiarism, ethical issues, or key data of the manuscripts.
First Reading Considerations
Keep an MS Word open on your computer or a pen and paper while skim-reading the manuscript. Numbering your notes shall ease the process of modification for authors and rechecking them for reviewers.
If this is your first time reviewing a manuscript, try to address the following questions to help you form an overall impression of the manuscript:
- What is the main question/problem the research is addressing?
- How original/important is the topic? What does it add to the subject area compared with other published materials?
- Is the paper well written? Is the text clear and easy to read? Is the methodology consistent and logical?
- Are the conclusions consistent with the evidence and arguments presented? Do they address the main question posed in the research manuscript?
- If the author is disagreeing significantly with the current academic consensus, do they have a substantial case? If not, what would be required to make their case credible?
- If the paper includes tables or figures, what do they add to the paper? Do they aid understanding or are they superfluous?
Finding Major Flaws
When reading the whole manuscript, we would kindly welcome specific recommendations for correcting flaws. Major flaws may include any of the following:
- The conclusion contradicts author's own statistical or qualitative evidence.
- The used research method is discredited.
- An influential process in the area under study is disregarded.
- The methodology is not sound.
- Insufficient, contradictory or flawed data, arguments, tables, or designs with conclusions or to current understanding of the area under study.
- Meaning, sentences structure, arguments construction are unclear or ambiguous.
If you find a major problem, please provide a written reasoning and clear supporting evidence, including citations whenever possible.
This process shall help you cover our journal’s review format thoroughly. Please add your notes on the manuscript and list all the major flaws in an orderly manner for authors to work constructively on their research because you may find some positive aspects that can be communicated to the author to help them with future submissions and progress as researchers.
If you find the manuscript to be publishable by principle, your responsibility shall be to help in the preparation of the manuscript to be properly published. You hold the right to reject the manuscript in your second reading shall the authors fail to conduct the modifications you require, or provide proper explanation for not conducting certain changes you deemed necessary to approve the manuscript for publication.
The benchmark for accepting a manuscript for publication shall be how useful is the manuscript in contributing to the knowledge base or understanding of the subject matter. Please provide clear and precise suggestions or possible solutions for how the authors may address any concerns or problems their research has raised. Authors may lack experience in writing proper articles and conducting research thus these suggestions would guide them in improving their work and contributions to their field.
Tips to save time and effort:
Do not rely entirely on the notes you insert in the electronic copy of the manuscript. Keep a hard or soft copy of the notes with the number of the pages, and, if possible, line numbers to find them easily when the modified manuscript is resubmitted for a second review.
Try to group similar concerns/ problems together.
Keep images, graphs and data tables in clear view by printing them or opening them in a separate window to see how accurately they cover the research work.
Some research shall require reviewers to be certain that the meaning of the text is clear since many of the researchers are non-native English speakers. If the submitted manuscript has many issues regarding language and editing, there is no need to try and rectify them. Instead, be certain to mention it in your review. The authors are responsible to edit the manuscript properly. Your role is to judge the contents of the research, you are not required to spend time fixing grammatical or spelling issues. You can, however, highlight such mistakes if you they affect the clarity of meaning. Editors will check and confirm that the manuscript is at a high standard before publication.
If you find the manuscript difficult to understand, you may recommend it to be rejected. However, if the core message is understandable yet the language to express it is poor, you may suggest some improvements or corrections of major mistakes. Consider the following questions as a guide:
- What parts could be communicated better?
- When the authors edit their language problems, should they resubmit their modified manuscript to the journal?
- Would you re-review the manuscript again if the problems you noted were corrected?
Section by Section Guidance
- The Introduction
A well-written introduction:
- Sets out the argument
- Summarizes recent research related to the topic
- Highlights gaps in current understanding or conflicts in current knowledge
- Establishes the originality of the research aims by demonstrating the need for investigations in the topic area
- Gives a clear idea of the target readership, why the research was carried out and the novelty and topicality of the manuscript
Originality and Topicality
They can only be accepted if the research is recent and reliable. For instance, it will be problematic to deny a conflict in current understanding of a problem when the references used in the research are over 10 years old.
Authors may prove that a certain issue/ topic has not been explored in recent years therefore conducting a new research is required. This point is justifiable if the techniques of gathering data are developed recently or the research is conducted in fields that are indirectly related to previous researches which validates the topic being re-explored. If you find the manuscript providing new information, please note if they confirm already found results or new ones.
The introduction section usually ends with stating the aims of the conducted research. Reading through the research will give you a good idea of them. However, if they are stated differently than what the research is about, then the introduction should be modified.
2. Materials and Methods
Academic research should have specific points to prove that the detected data are due to experiments that can be repeated by other researchers and not found by chance. If the methods used to find data or make statistics are not scientifically reliable, or not detailed enough, other researchers cannot replicate the experiments. There could also be the case of ethical standards not being maintained in conducting experiments. If such issues are found in the research then the manuscript should be rejected.
3. Results and Discussion
This section should be coherent to the reader of what has happened and what was found or asserted by conducting this research?
Authors are required to follow certain patterns of reporting in this section of their research:
- They should start by describing what the data show
- They should reference any significant or suitable statistical analysis where available.
- They should provide an evaluation of the observed changes and explain the results’ importance to the reader, which must be conducted by referencing published research.
- The collected data should be analyzed critically as the proper conclusion of this section.
If there are any gaps available in the description of this section, such as the information gathered are not gathered appropriately into a single, cohesive whole, reviewers are required to report it in their evaluation. Researchers should correct such issues and suggest ways for readers to confirm their findings for further research in the future.
This part is usually short and may be located as a separate section at the end of the manuscript or as the conclusive couple of paragraphs in the Discussion and Results section. If this section is not based on variable or reliable evidence, reviewers may ask the authors to re-write it.
Reviewers should check the accuracy of the references. There should be (20-25) listed references for research papers, and (over 25) listed references for review papers to be accepted in our journal.