REVIEWER GUIDELINES

This journal uses double-blind review, which means that both the reviewer and author identities are concealed from the reviewers, and vice versa, throughout the review process.  

Why review?

  • Help authors improve their papers by providing your professional expertise. 
  •  Play an important role in maintaining a good, rigorous peer-review process.
  • Expand your awareness of the current research emerging within your field.
  • Build relationships and improve your academic and professional profile. 
  •  Improve your own writing skills. 

Timing

If you are reviewing a manuscript, please aim to complete your review within a week. If you need more time or are unable to perform the review, please notify us immediately so that we can keep the authors informed and assign alternate reviewers if necessary.

Confidentiality

In conducting your review, please remember that the manuscript you have been invited to review is a privileged (confidential) communication. Therefore, you may not circulate, discuss, quote, cite, or refer to the unpublished work, nor may you use information from the manuscript to advance your own work or instruction. Manuscripts may not be given to students for educational purposes. 

Reviewing Manuscripts Previously Handled

If you are invited to review a manuscript that you reviewed at another journal, please consider the manuscript as a new submission, taking into account that (a) it may have been revised since the last time you evaluated it, and (b) PLOS ONE’s criteria for publication may differ from those of the other journal.
When submitting your review, please note to the editor that you reviewed a previous version of the manuscript at another journal. The editors may ask you to provide your original review. Before doing so, please obtain permission from the previous journal.

Key Issues to Remember

  • Is the manuscript important?
  • Is the manuscript fixable? How could it be altered?
  • What are the key points and what are the more particular points and are these differentiated?
  • In general, good reviews do not exceed 3 pages single spaced (there are always exceptions).
  • Keep in mind that you too are an author and ask yourself what would a good review look like if this were your manuscript?
  • Would you recommend that the author reconsider the paper for a related or alternative journal?

Provide detailed comments

  • These should be suitable for transmission to the authors: use the comment to the author as an opportunity to seek clarification on any unclear points and for further elaboration.
  • If you have time, make suggestions as to how the author can improve clarity, succinctness, and the overall quality of presentation.
  • Confirm whether you feel the subject of the paper is sufficiently interesting to justify its length; if you recommend shortening, it is useful to the author(s) if you can indicate specific areas where you think that shortening is required.
  • It is not the job of the reviewer to edit the paper for English, but it is helpful if you correct the English where the technical meaning is unclear.
  • A referee may disagree with the author’s opinions, but should allow them to stand, provided they are consistent with the available evidence.
  • Remember that authors will welcome positive feedback as well as constructive criticism from you.

Being critical whilst remaining sensitive to the author isn’t always easy and comments should be carefully constructed so that the author fully understands what actions they need to take to improve their paper. For example, generalized or vague statements should be avoided along with any negative comments which aren’t relevant or constructive.

Make a recommendation

Once you’ve read the paper and have assessed its quality, you need to make a recommendation to the editor regarding publication.  The specific decision types used by a journal will vary but the key decisions are:

  • Accept – if the paper is suitable for publication in its current form.
  • Minor revision – if the paper will be ready for publication after light revisions. Please list the revisions you would recommend the author makes.
  • Major revision – if the paper would benefit from substantial changes such as expanded data analysis, widening of the literature review, or rewriting sections of the text.
Reject – if the paper is not suitable for publication with this journal or if the revisions that would need to be undertaken are too fundamental for the submission to continue being considered in its current form.