JEB’s Top Ten Tips for Peer Review

Thor­ough peer review plays an import­ant role in ensur­ing the qual­ity of the work pub­lished in JEB, but it also helps authors to improve the present­a­tion of their work and the effect­ive­ness with which they com­mu­nic­ate their res­ults. In addi­tion to achiev­ing these goals, we want our review pro­cess to be friendly and con­struct­ive. Here are our top ten tips for con­duct­ing peer review:

  1. Respond to review requests as soon as you can, wheth­er you are accept­ing or declin­ing. If declin­ing, please recom­mend oth­er review­ers and con­sider recom­mend­ing ECRs who could provide a good review but may not be known to the Decid­ing Editor.
  2. Be object­ive in your review­ing. Con­sider the meth­od­o­logy used and the data first. If the meth­ods and ana­lys­is are sound, there is every chance that issues with inter­pret­a­tion and present­a­tion can be resolved.
  3. Be spe­cif­ic with your com­ments. E.g., are the num­ber of rep­lic­ates and con­trols suf­fi­cient? Are the stat­ist­ic­al ana­lyses appro­pri­ate? Are the fig­ures clear, con­cise and an accur­ate rep­res­ent­a­tion of the data?
  4. Con­sider wheth­er the con­clu­sions are robust. Do the res­ults presen­ted back up the con­clu­sions drawn by the authors? Are there any issues with inter­pret­a­tion or clarity?
  5. Be con­struct­ive with your com­ments (even if your recom­mend­a­tion is to reject). The job of the review­er is to help the author to improve the paper. 
  6. Be tol­er­ant and polite when deal­ing with Eng­lish and gram­mar issues. It isn’t your job to copy­ed­it, but sug­ges­tions to improve read­ab­il­ity and to cla­ri­fy mean­ing are wel­comed. If the lan­guage qual­ity impairs under­stand­ing of the sci­entif­ic con­tent, then flag this to the Decid­ing Editor.
  7. Struc­ture your review. This helps both the Decid­ing Edit­or and the authors to get the most out of your hard work. E.g., organ­ise your review into “Major” and “Minor” points. On the oth­er hand, do not sum­mar­ise the con­tent of the paper at length. Both the edit­ors and the authors already know what it is about.
  8. In the com­ments to the edit­or, write a clear and con­cise sum­mary state­ment sup­port­ing your recom­mend­a­tion. This helps the Decid­ing Edit­or to see the big pic­ture across mul­tiple reviews. But do not refer to your recom­mend­a­tion in the com­ments to the authors. 
  9. Proof-read your review before sub­mit­ting. Make sure that the con­tent is clear and free from jar­gon and acronyms. Do not include any per­son­al details and inform the edit­or if there are ele­ments of the paper that you are less con­fid­ent in assessing.
  10. Above all — sub­mit a review that you would be happy to receive yourself!