Guidelines for Peer Reviewers

These guidelines have been developed in consultation with the University Library and the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning, as well as drawing on guidelines of other publishers ‘Elsevier’ and ‘nature’.

The guidelines have been written for both more and less experienced peer reviewers. If you have any questions, please contact the Editors at exchangesjournal@warwick.ac.uk

 

Purpose

Thank you for the effort and expertise that you are contributing to Exchanges: the Warwick Research Journal. We are very grateful for your generosity which will maintain the desired high standards of this publication.

Peer review is a critical element of scholarly publication, and we believe that it both acts as a filter, ensuring research is properly verified before being published, and improves the quality of the research through rigorous review by other experts.

All 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. The primary purpose of the review is to provide the editors with the information needed to reach a decision. The review should also instruct the authors on how they can strengthen their paper to the point where it may be acceptable.

 

On Being Asked To Review

Expertise

The Editorial Board may only be aware of your work in a broader context. Please only accept an invitation if you feel you are competent to review the article.

Time

Reviewing an article can be quite time consuming. On average, an article will take about 5 hours to review properly. Please make sure that you have sufficient time before the deadline stipulated in the invitation to conduct a thorough review. Please feel free to say if this is unlikely, and if possible advise the editor of alternative reviewers.

Conflicts of interest

A conflict of interest will not necessarily eliminate you from reviewing an article, but full disclosure to the editor will allow them to make an informed decision. Examples are:

         i.            you work in the same department or institute as one of the authors

        ii.            you have worked on a paper previously with an author

      iii.            you have a professional or financial connection to the article

Please note if any of these are the case when you reply to an invitation to review, or at any time that this becomes relevant.


 

Conducting the Review

Please conduct your review confidentially. The article you have been asked to review should not be disclosed to a third party. If you wish to gain an opinion from colleagues regarding the article you should let the editor know beforehand. To help us protect your identity, please do not reveal your name within the text of your review.

You should not attempt to contact the author.

Be aware when you submit your review that any recommendations you make will contribute to the final decision made by the editor.

A Review Form is provided in order to evaluate the article according to the following:

 

  1. Title - is it appropriate and succinct?
  2. Abstract/summary - does it reflect accurately what the paper says?
  3. Research question - is it clearly defined and appropriately answered? Is it original?
  4. Overall design of study - is it adequate?
  5. Methods - are they adequately described?
  6. Results – do they respond directly to the research question? Credible? Well presented?
  7. Usefulness of tables and figures? Is the quality good enough? Can some be eliminated? Is the data correct in the tables?
  8. Interpretation and conclusions - are they warranted by and sufficiently derived from/focused on the data? Is the message clear?
  9. References - are they up to date and relevant? Any glaring omissions?

 

 

More information on each area:

Originality

  • Is the article sufficiently novel and interesting to warrant publication?
  • Is the research question an important one?
  • You might wish to do a quick literature search using tools such as Scopus to see if there are any reviews of the area. If the research has been covered previously, pass on references of those works to the editor.

 

Structure

Is the article clearly laid out? Are all the key elements (where relevant) present: abstract, introduction, methodology, results, conclusions? Consider each element in turn:

  • Title: Does it clearly describe the article?
  • Abstract: Does it reflect the content of the article?
  • Introduction: Does it describe what the author hoped to achieve accurately, and clearly state the problem being investigated? Normally, the introduction should summarize relevant research to provide context, and explain what other authors' findings, if any, are being challenged or extended. It should describe the experiment, the hypothesis(es) and the general experimental design or method.
  • Method: Does the author accurately explain how the data was collected? Is the design suitable for answering the question posed? Is there sufficient information present for you to replicate the research? Does the article identify the procedures followed? Are these ordered in a meaningful way? If the methods are new, are they explained in detail? Was the sampling appropriate? Have the equipment and materials been adequately described? Does the article make it clear what type of data was recorded; has the author been precise in describing measurements?
  • Results/Findings Discussion: This is where the author(s) should explain in words what he/she/they discovered in the research. It should be clearly laid out and in a logical sequence. You will need to consider if the appropriate analysis has been conducted. Are the statistics correct? If you are not comfortable with statistics, please advise the editor when you submit your report. Are the claims in this section supported by the results, do they seem reasonable?
  • Conclusion: Have the results been accurately and concisely summarised? Have the authors indicated how the results relate to expectations and to earlier research? Does the article support or contradict previous theories? Does the conclusion explain how the research has moved the body of knowledge forward?
  • Language: If an article is poorly written due to grammatical errors, while it may make it more difficult to understand the article, you do not need to correct the English. You should bring this to the attention of the editor, however.
  • References: If the article builds upon previous research does it reference that work appropriately? Are there any important works that have been omitted? Are the references accurate?
  • Figures:  Do the figures and tables inform the reader, are they an important part of the story? Do the figures describe the data accurately? Are they consistent, e.g. bars in charts are the same width, the scales on the axis are logical.

 

Ethical Issues

  • Plagiarism: If you suspect that an article is a substantial copy of another work, please let the editor know, 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 an article to be untrue, discuss it with the editor
  • Other ethical concerns: For medical research, has confidentiality been maintained? Has there been a violation of the accepted norms in the ethical treatment of animal or human subjects? If so, then these should also be identified to the editor

 

Communicating Your Report to the Editor

Once you have completed your evaluation of the article the next step is to write up your report.. The journal requests that you complete a form, checking various aspects of the paper. You will also be able to make remarks. It is helpful to provide a quick summary of the article at the beginning of your report. This serves the dual purpose of giving the editor an at-a-glance view of the details of the report and also reassuring the author and editor that you have understood the article.

The report should contain the key elements of your review, addressing the points outlined in the preceding section. Commentary should be courteous and constructive, and should not include any personal remarks or personal details including your name. Reviewers 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. Setting out clear arguments for and against publication is often more helpful to the editors than a direct recommendation one way or the other.

We ask reviewers to submit via our secure online system. You will be asked to recommend to the Editors:

a)       Accept Submission

b)       Revisions Required

c)        Resubmit for Review

d)       Decline Submission

 

When 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.