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Reviewer Guidelines

”Review for others as you would have others review for you“.- McPeek et al., 2009

Peer review has an important role in ensuring the integrity of the scholarly record and as such it depends to a large extent on trust, and requires that everyone involved behaves responsibly and ethically. Since the Peer reviewers play a central and critical part in the peer review process, our peer reviewers are asked to adhere to “The COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers”, which sets out the basic principles and standards to which all peer reviewers should adhere during the peer review process.

Peer reviewers should agree to review manuscripts for which they have the subject expertise only and should declare if they do not have the subject expertise required to carry out the review. Or if they are able to assess only part of the manuscript, they should outline clearly the areas for which they have the relevant expertise and should not agree to review a manuscript just to gain sight of it with no intention of submitting a review.

Peer reviewers have to carry out a proper assessment and which they can assess in a timely manner. They should only agree to review a manuscript if they are fairly confident that they can return a review within the proposed or mutually agreed time-frame, informing the journal promptly if they require an extension. They should contact the journal if circumstances arise that will prevent them from submitting a timely review, providing an accurate estimate of the time they will need to do a review if still asked to do so. They should not intentionally prolong the review process, either by delaying the submission of their review or by requesting unnecessary additional information from the journal or author.

Peer reviewers should respect the confidentiality of peer review and not reveal any details of a manuscript or its review, during or after the peer-review process, beyond those that are permitted by the journal and should not use information obtained during the peer-review process for their own or any other person’s or organization’s advantage, or to disadvantage or discredit others.

Peer reviewers should not allow their reviews to be influenced by the origins of a manuscript, by the nationality, religious or political beliefs, gender or other characteristics of the authors, or by commercial considerations.

Peer reviewers must be objective and constructive in their reviews, refraining from being hostile or inflammatory and from making libelous or derogatory personal comments.

Peer reviewers should provide journals with personal and professional information that is accurate and a true representation of their expertise and should recognize that impersonation of another individual during the review process is considered serious misconduct.

A potential conflict of interest in reviewing a particular paper when the reviewer has recent or ongoing collaborations with the authors in the past five years, helped the authors on drafts of the manuscript, have direct competition in the same research area, have a history of disputes with the authors or have a financial interest in the outcome. Peer reviewers should declare any potentially conflicting or competing interests (which may, for example, be personal, financial, intellectual, professional, political or religious),and should seek advice from the journal if they are unsure whether something constitutes a relevant interest. Peer reviewers should also notify the journal immediately and seek advice if they discover either a conflicting interest during the review that wasn’t apparent when they agreed to the review or anything that might prevent them providing a fair and unbiased review.

Peer reviewers should inform the journal if: they work at the same institution as any of the authors (or will be joining that institution or are applying for a job there); they are or have been recent (e.g. ithin the past 3 years) mentors, mentees, close collaborators or joint grant holders; they have a close personal relationship with any of the authors.

Peer reviewers should review afresh any manuscript they have previously reviewed for another journal as it may have changed between the two submissions and the journals’ criteria for evaluation and acceptance may be different.

Peer reviewers should ensure suggestions for alternative reviewers are based on suitability and not influenced by personal considerations or made with the intention of the manuscript receiving a specific outcome (either positive or negative).

Peer reviewers should decline to review if they feel unable to provide a fair and unbiased review, if they have been involved with any of the work in the manuscript or its reporting, if asked to review a manuscript that is very similar to one they have in preparation or under consideration at another journal and if they have issues with the peer-review model used by our journal that would either affect their review or cause it to be invalidated because of their inability to comply with the journal’s review policies

Peer reviewers should read the manuscript, ancillary material (e.g. reviewer instructions, required ethics and policy statements, supplemental data files) and journal instructions thoroughly, getting back to the journal if anything is not clear and requesting any missing or incomplete items they need to carry out a full review.

Peer reviewers should not involve anyone else in the review of a manuscript, including junior researchers they are mentoring, without first obtaining permission from the journal; the names of any individuals who have helped them with the review should be included with the returned review so that they are associated with the manuscript in the journal’s records and can also receive due credit for their efforts.

Peer reviewers should keep all manuscript and review details confidential and should not contact the authors directly without the permission of the journal. If the Peer reviewer suspects the identity of the author(s), it should be notified to the journal if this knowledge raises any potential conflict of interest.

Peer reviewers should notify the journal immediately if they come across any irregularities, have concerns about ethical aspects of the work, are aware of substantial similarity between the manuscript and a concurrent submission to another journal or a published article, or suspect that misconduct may have occurred during either the research or the writing and submission of the manuscript; reviewers should, however, keep their concerns confidential and not personally investigate further unless the journal asks for further information or advice.

Peer reviewers should ensure their review is based on the merits of the work and not influenced, either positively or negatively, by any personal, financial, or other conflicting considerations or by intellectual biases.

Peer reviewers should bear in mind that the editor is looking to them for subject knowledge, good judgment and an honest and fair assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the work and the manuscript and be objective and constructive in their reviews and provide feedback that will help the authors to improve their manuscript.

Peer reviewers should not make derogatory personal comments or unfounded accusations.

Peer reviewers should be specific in their criticisms, and provide evidence with appropriate references to substantiate their statements to help our editors in their evaluation and decision and in fairness to the authors.

Peer reviewers should remember it is the authors’ paper and not attempt to rewrite it to their own preferred style (suggestions for changes that improve clarity are, however, important) and be aware of the sensitivities surrounding language issues that are due to the authors writing in a language that is not their own, and phrase the feedback appropriately and with due respect.

Peer reviewers should make clear which suggested additional investigations are essential to support claims made in the manuscript under consideration and which will just strengthen or extend the work.

Peer reviewers should not suggest that authors include citations to the reviewer’s (or their associates’) work merely to increase the reviewer’s (or their associates’) citation count or to enhance the visibility of their or their associates’ work; suggestions must be based on valid academic or technological reasons.

Peer reviewers should continue to keep details of the manuscript and its review confidential, respond promptly if contacted by about matters related to their review of a manuscript and provide the information required, contact the journal if anything relevant comes to light after they have submitted their review that might affect their original feedback and recommendations, read the reviews from the other reviewers, if these are provided by the journal, to improve their own understanding of the topic or the decision reached and try to accommodate requests to review revisions or resubmissions of manuscripts they have reviewed.

Reviewers should not disclose their identities to the authors or to other colleagues and one will not take unfair advantage from having seen the paper as a reviewer, or try to steal their ideas.

The peer reviewers should make sure that they make specific useful comments on the writing, organization, methods, and interpretation of the results and provide a constructive review to authors.

The Peer Reviewer should assess the quality of the paper and give a report on the following aspects:

1). Originality of the article and the novelty of the ideas and techniques reported in the manuscript compared to the existing literature. Prevent the publication of bad work – filter out studies that have been poorly conceived, designed or executed. Provide editors with evidence to make judgments as to whether articles meet the selection criteria for their particular publications

2). Scientific Rigour i.e, whether the experiments have been carried out in a scientific way, whether all necessary details of the methods are given in such a way that they can be reproduced, whether the results have been appropriately analysed and discussed including the testability of any theoretical predictions or modeling and the likely impacts of the results presented in the article in the respective field(s). Check that the research reported has been carried out well and there are no flaws in the design or methodology. Ensure that the results are not too preliminary or too speculative, but at the same time do not block innovative new research and theories.

3), Interpretation and conclusions are appropriate and sufficiently derived from/focused on the data and discussed in the light of previous evidence/reports. Ensure that the results presented have been interpreted correctly and all possible interpretations considered. Ensure that the work is reported correctly and unambiguously, with acknowledgement to the existing body of work

4). References are up to date and relevant without any glaring omissions.

5). Abstract/summary/key messages are appropriate about what this paper adds and they accurately reflect what the paper says.

6).Comments on the Documents in the supplemental files as to whether they properly match what is in the manuscript or Do they contain information that should be better reported in the manuscript or raise questions about the work.

7). Clarity of writing of the article and how well the authors have conveyed the information.

The Peer Reviewer should Reject manuscripts that require substantial revision and also reject manuscripts with trivial or insignificant results and minor contributions to the subject area even if they are well written.

In case reviewer reports are received with opposing views, we will send the manuscripts and reports to an editorial board member with relevant expertise to adjudicate. The board member would make a recommendation after considering the reviewer’s comments and then a publication decision would be made.

The authors have the right to appeal against a rejection within four weeks of the original decision by addressing the reviewers’ criticisms in detail in the appeal. Appeals would be sent to the Publication Committee for consideration. If successful, the manuscript would re-enter the peer review processes with new review report collected or further revision required by the Publication Committee. If the appeal is rejected, the original rejection decision is final and the paper would not further be considered.

Peer Reviewers’ reports should unambiguously answer the following questions:

  1. Is the article in line with the journal’s scope?. Yes/No (Doubtful since the Editor has accepted it for review. However, contact the Editor for clarification before proceeding.).
  2. Does your expertise cover all aspects of the article? If not, describe which sections you can respond to and why?
  3. “Mirror” the article. Make a first draft describing the main aim of the article and why it’s innovative.
  4. Is the article publishable in principle? Yes/ No. If No, Describe the fatal flaws and submit your review. If Yes, continue with the rest of the questions.
  5. Do the Introduction and Abstract clearly identify the need and relevance for this research? Please Specify Major Issues and Minor Issues.
  6. Does the Methodology target the main question(s) appropriately? Please Specify Major Issues and Minor Issues.
  7. Are the Results clearly and logically presented, and are they justified by the data presented? Are the figures clear and fully described? Please Specify Major Issues and Minor Issues.
  8. Do the Conclusions justifiably respond to main questions the author(s) posed? Do the Conclusions go too far or not far enough based on the results? Please Specify Major Issues and Minor Issues.
  9. Is the manuscript’s story cohesive and tightly reasoned throughout?If not, where does it deviate from the central argument? Please Specify Major Issues and Minor Issues.
  10. How are the grammar and spelling in the manuscript? Please Specify Major Issues and Minor Issues.

Round off your review with a comment about whether you like to peer review a re-submitted version of the paper, or if you look forward to reviewing the next round of edits.

Compile your responses to the points above into a single document. Here is a suggested order for your review: A. Introduction: Mirror the article, and give your opinion whether the paper is publishable or if there are fatal flaws; B. Major issues: C. Minor issues;D. Other itsy-bitsy suggestions.

Comments should be constructive and designed to enhance the manuscript. You should consider yourself the authors’ mentor. Make your comments as complete and detailed as possible. Express your views clearly with supporting arguments and references as necessary. Include clear opinions about the strengths, weaknesses and relevance of the manuscript, its originality and its importance to the field. Specific comments that cite line numbers are most helpful. If you feel unqualified to address certain aspects of the manuscript, please include a statement to identify these areas. Please change text that could be considered rude before you submit!,

The manuscript is to be reviewed within 30 days. All Reviewers should sign a conflict of interest statement. Revised manuscripts received from the authors are usually returned to the initial Reviewers. Reviewers if required, may ask for more than one revision of a manuscript.

Reviewers’ Comments to the Author will be submitted to the Handling Editor and the Editor-in-Chief. They are also communicated to the authors and to the other anonymous reviewers of the manuscript once the editor has made a decision.

The editor-in-chief informs corresponding author about the decision with the detailed comments provided by reviewers. The decision will be either of “Accept”, “Minor revision requiring No re-review”, “Minor revision requiring re-review”, “Major revision required”, or “reject”

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