Advice for Reviewers

Guidance for Peer Reviewers Journal of Infection Prevention

September 2013

Purpose of Peer Review

The publication of peer-reviewed articles is an important component of the development and dissemination of knowledge in infection prevention and control and related fields of health. The purpose and contribution of peer reviewers is twofold; it assists the editorial team in deciding what to publish and it also assists authors in improving their submissions and subsequently getting them published. The contribution of peer reviewers to JIP is recognised and valued highly by both the editorial board and the publishers. In order to produce the best outcome for authors, reviewers, editors and readers please consider the following points when conducting and submitting your review.

Responsibilities of Peer Reviewers

  • When asked to review an article peer reviewers should consider whether they are able to do so within the requested timescale and quickly communicate with the editorial team if they are unable to complete the review for any reason.

Such reasons may include:

  • The article is outside of the scope of your professional expertise, the editor may not know you personally and may have chosen you to review based on the information available in the reviewer system. If you do not feel competent to review the article please inform the editor as quickly as possible.
  • You have a potential conflict of interest – note; this may not preclude you from reviewing the paper but you should highlight any perceived conflict with the editor as quickly as possible

You may decide that, although you can review the paper, certain aspects of the paper are outside your area of expertise, examples include statistical analysis or health economic analysis. If this is the case, please highlight this to the editor(s) as quickly as possible, i.e. don’t wait until you return your review. The editor(s) will be able to obtain specialist review of these aspects of the paper.

Maintain Confidentiality 

Papers sent for peer review are confidential; please do not show them to any other person without seeking the specific permission of the editor to do so.

It goes without saying that you should not use the content of an unpublished paper in any way other than for peer review without obtaining the author(s)’ explicit permission to do so (this will not normally be possible in a double-blind peer review).

Conducting Your Review

General

Give detailed and constructive comments, with references to sources where appropriate, that will help the editors make a decision and the author(s) to improve the submission where necessary. Remember that you have the option of giving confidential comments to the editor which will not be shown to the author(s) as well as comments to the author(s) that will be returned to them with the editor’s decision.

Originality and/or Value to the Readers 

Consider what the article offers our readers; is it appropriate to the journal (this may be quite a wide scope)? Does it present new knowledge/information, does it summarise the ‘state of the art’ with regards to its subject matter? Will it help practitioners make decisions or inform their practice in some way?

Structure and quality of writing

Peer review isn’t intended to be proof reading but errors in technical terminology or scientific nomenclature should be pointed out. Is the article well structured, clear and readable? Does it follow a logical progression and lead the reader through from introduction through the main body of the paper to conclusions and, where relevant, recommendations.

For Reports of Original Research (including Systematic Reviews)

We would recommend using a recognised framework for critical appraisal such as CASP for example ( http://www.casp-uk.net/ ) , though you are welcome to use any other systematic approach. Be aware that very few research studies will be flawless and a balanced review will consider both the strengths and limitations of a paper. Be constructive and enquiring – a “critical friend”.

As a minimum:

  • Does the abstract/summary reflect accurately the content of the paper?
  •  Is there a clearly stated research question?
  • Is the study design appropriate?
  • Are the methods described clearly and fully (including any statistical methods)?
  • Are the participants (and the population) clearly identified including any inclusion or exclusion criteria?
  • Are the results given clearly and fully and related to the main research question?
  • Are any charts or figures helpful to the reader, labelled clearly and referred to in the text?
  • -       Does the discussion relate the results to the wider literature? Does is address the strengths and weaknesses of the study?
  • Do the conclusions reflect fairly the results of the study?
  • Have the authors identified clearly and addressed any ethical considerations?

Referencing and Sources

The article will have been checked for conformation with the Journal’s required referencing system.

  • Are the assertions in the article backed up by appropriate citations/evidence?
  • Are you aware of any seminal/key references that are missing from the article?
  • Is the review of the literature up to date/comprehensive and relevant?

Concerns about Honesty/Probity

If you have any concerns about, for example, plagiarism or fraudulent work, please raise these, in confidence, with the editor.