Peer review checklist - Editor Resources

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Review checklist

First read-through

  • Is it clear what the authors want to communicate and the direction of the manuscript?
  • Is it reporting original research or is it another type of article? How does this change your report?
  • What contribution does the article make to the field of study?
  • Is the manuscript original?
  • Is the overall study design and approach appropriate?
  • Are you concerned about the language? Are revisions needed to make it possible to review?

Detailed review – Research articles

Title

  • Does it express clearly what the manuscript is about?
  • Does it highlight the importance of the study?
  • Does it contain any unnecessary description?

Abstract

  • Is it a short and clear summary of the aims, key methods, important findings and conclusions?
  • Does it include enough information to stand alone?
  • Does it contain unnecessary information?

Introduction

  • Does it clearly summarize the current state of the topic?
  • Does it address the limitations of current knowledge in this field?
  • Does it clearly explain why the study was necessary?
  • Does it clearly define the aim of the study and is this consistent with the rest of the manuscript?
  • Is the research question clear and appropriate?

Methods

  • Are the study design and methods appropriate for the research question?
  • Is there enough detail to repeat the experiments?
  • Is it clear how samples were collected or how participants were recruited?
  • Is there any potential bias in the sample or in the recruitment of participants?
  • Are the correct controls/ validation included?
  • Are any potential confounding factors considered?
  • Has any randomization been done correctly?
  • Is the time-frame of the study sufficient to see outcomes?
  • Is there sufficient power and appropriate statistics?
  • Do you have any ethical concerns?

Results

  • Are the results presented clearly and accurately?
  • Do the results presented match the methods?
  • Have all the relevant data been included?
  • Is there any risk of patients or participants being identified?
  • Is the data described in the text consistent with the data in the figures and tables?

Discussion and conclusion

  • Do the authors logically explain the findings?
  • Do the authors compare the findings with current findings in the research field?
  • Are the implications of the findings for future research and potential applications discussed?
  • Are the conclusions supported by the data presented?
  • Are any limitations of the study discussed?
  • Are any contradictory data discussed?

Tables and figures

  • Are data presented in a clear and appropriate manner?
  • Is the presentation of tables and figures consistent with the description in text?
  • Do the figure legends and table headings clearly explain what is shown?
  • Do the figures and tables include measures of uncertainty, such as standard error or confidence intervals, where required as well as the sample size?
  • Do you have any concerns about the manipulation of data?

References

  • Are there any key references missing?
  • Do the authors cite the initial discoveries where suitable?
  • Are there places where the authors cite a review but should cite the original paper?
  • Do the cited studies represent current knowledge?

Final checks – before you submit your report

  • Have you given a brief summary of the article and highlighted the key messages?
  • Have you given positive feedback as well as constructive criticism?
  • Have you made it clear which of your concerns are major (significant points, essential for publication) or minor (smaller issues, may not be essential for publication)?
  • Are your concerns specific, with examples where possible?
  • Have you numbered your comments and referred to page/ line numbers in the article to make it easy for the authors to address your points?
  • Is your feedback constructive, and focused on the research?
  • If you were the authors, would you understand how to improve the manuscript?
  • If you were the Editor, would the comments be detailed enough to help you make a decision?
  • Have you checked the spelling and grammar in your report?
  • Have you included your comments in the correct places in the online system – checking that any confidential comments for editors are in the right place – and have you answered all the questions?

Peer review of non-research articles

Many of the same questions will be relevant to all articles. However, articles which do not present original research are unlikely to have a methods section and results but may be more focused on the discussion of a topic. Check the article type and journal requirements if you are unsure.

Here are some questions to consider for some non-research article types.

Systematic reviews

  • Are the search terms and inclusion/ exclusion criteria clearly described?
  • Are the search terms and criteria correct to ensure all the relevant articles are included?
  • If a meta-analysis has been done, were previous studies combined appropriately?

Case reports

  • Does the diagnosis appear to be correct?
  • Was the treatment reasonable for the diagnosis?
  • Are the treatment and outcomes clearly described?
  • As far as possible, is the patient anonymous?
  • Are the conclusions reasonable and not attempting to generalize to wider population?

Methodology articles

  • Is the new method clearly described?
  • Is it possible to replicate the new method?
  • Is there a rationale for why the new method is needed?
  • Is the new method compared to existing approaches?
  • Usually there should not be any experimental results, other than to demonstrate the utility of the methods.

Review articles

  • Is there any content which has been previously presented in a review?
  • Does it focus on recent advances in research?
  • Is it a balanced and unbiased overview of current understanding?
  • Are any recent or important references missing?
  • Is it too focused on the author’s own research?
  • Is the interpretation and presentation of results of previous studies accurate and precise?
  • Has it a valuable contribution to the research field?
  • Is it understandable for non-expert readers?

Opinion articles (also called Editorials or Commentaries)

  • Does the article add to the discussion on a research topic?
  • Is the opinion of the author well-argued?
  • Is the opinion based on current knowledge, or if it makes a big leap from current knowledge then is this logical? What supports the opinion presented?

Download the Review Checklist in PDF.

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