Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers
Peer reviewers play a role in ensuring the integrity of the scholarly record. The peer review process depends to a large extent on the trust and willing participation of the scholarly community and requires that everyone involved behaves responsibly and ethically. Peer reviewers play a central and critical part of the peer review process but may come to the role without any guidance and be unaware of their ethical obligations. Journals as a form of scientific publication must provide transparent policies for peer reviewers. Thus, they must conduct reviews in an ethical and accountable manner. Clear communication between the journal and the reviewers is essential to facilitate consistent, fair and timely review.
Peer review, in these guidelines, refers to reviews provided on manuscript submissions to journals, but can also include reviews for other platforms and apply to public commenting that can occur pre- or post-publication. The model of peer review will influence elements of the process.
Models of peer review
There are different types or models of peer review, all of which have various advantages and disadvantages. The chart below identifies key elements of the various models related to processes in peer review. Reviewers should understand their responsibilities related to confidentiality of the process and ownership of the review product based on the model of peer review being used. Jurnal Radiologi Dentomaksilofasial Indonesia (JRDI) uses a double-blind peer review process with key elements as follow:
Being a reviewer
Professional responsibility: Researchers and experts of certain field disciplines whom met our focus and scope, and deemed necessary for maintaining the publication quality, are considered of becoming our peer reviewers. JRDI establishes a formal process of appointment for our peer reviewer panel, with full consideration of expertise and reputation. All reviewers should provide us with personal and professional information that is accurate and a fair representation of their expertise, including verifiable and accurate contact information. Before any appointment made, we make sure that the potential reviewers have the necessary expertise to assess the manuscript and can be unbiased in their assessment.
Competing interests: All reviewers must ensuring a declaration against any potential competing, or conflicting, and interests. Competing interests may be personal, financial, intellectual, professional, political or religious. Reviewers must not review a manuscript just to gain sight of it with no intention of submitting a review or agree to review a manuscript that is very similar to one they have in preparation or under consideration at another journal.
Timeliness: It is courteous to respond to an invitation to peer review within a reasonable time-frame, even if you cannot undertake the review. If you feel qualified to judge a particular manuscript, you should agree to review only if you can return a review within the proposed or mutually agreed on time-frame. Always inform us promptly if your circumstances change and you cannot fulfill your original agreement or if you require an extension. If you cannot review, it is helpful to make suggestions for alternative reviewers if relevant, based on their expertise and without any influence of personal considerations or any intention of the manuscript receiving a specific outcome (either positive or negative).
Conducting a review
Initial steps: Read the manuscript, supplementary data files and ancillary material thoroughly (e.g., reviewer instructions, required ethics and policy statements, etc.), contact us if anything is not clear and requesting any missing or incomplete items you need. Do not contact the authors directly without our permission no matter how urgent the situations are. It is important to understand the scope of the review before commencing (i.e., is a review of raw data expected?; etc.)
Confidentiality: Respect the confidentiality of the peer-review process and refrain from using information obtained during the peer review process for your own or another’s advantage, or to disadvantage or discredit others. Do not involve anyone else in the review of a manuscript (including early career researchers you are mentoring), without first obtaining permission from us. The names of any individuals who have helped with the review should be included so that they are associated with the manuscript in the journal’s records and can also receive due recognition for their efforts.
Bias and competing interests: It is important to remain unbiased by considerations related to the nationality, religious or political beliefs, gender or other characteristics of the authors, origins of a manuscript or by commercial considerations. If you discover a competing interest that might prevent you from providing a fair and unbiased review, notify us for advice (e.g., There might be reviewer requests to be added as an author after publication, due to a certain level of revision; etc.). While waiting for a response, refrain from looking at the manuscript and associated material in case the request to review rescinded. Similarly, notify us as soon as possible if you find you do not have the necessary expertise to assess the relevant aspects of a manuscript so as not to delay the review process unduly. Notify us if you suspect the identity of the author(s) raises any potential competing or conflict of interest, and also in for a plagiarism potentials.
Suspicion of ethics violations: If you come across any irregularities concerning research and publication ethics do let us know. For example, you may have concerns that misconduct occurred during either the research or the writing and submission of the manuscript, or you may notice the substantial similarity between the manuscript and a concurrent submission to another journal or a published article. In the case of these or any other ethical concerns, contact our editorial board directly and do not attempt to investigate on your own. It is appropriate to cooperate, in confidence, with us, but not to personally investigate further unless asked for additional information or advice.
Transferability of peer review: Reviewers may be asked to give permission for the transfer of their reviews as our policy. If a manuscript is rejected from one journal and submitted to another, and you are asked to review that same manuscript, you should be prepared to review the manuscript afresh as it may have changed between the two submissions and the journal’s criteria for evaluation and acceptance may be different. In the interests of transparency and efficiency, it may be appropriate to provide your original review for the new journal (with permission to do so from the original journal), explaining that you had reviewed the submission previously and noting any changes.
Preparing a report
Format: Follow JRDI’s provision for writing and posting the review. If a particular format or scoring rubric is required, use the tools supplied. Be objective and constructive in your review, providing feedback that will help the authors to improve their manuscript. For example, be specific in your critique, and provide supporting evidence with appropriate references to substantiate general statements, to help our editorial board in their evaluation. Be professional and refrain from being hostile or inflammatory and from making libelous or derogatory personal comments or unfounded accusations.
Appropriate feedback: Bear in mind that our editorial board requires a fair, honest, and unbiased assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript. We allow reviewers to provide confidential comments to the editor as well as comments to be read by the authors. We also ask for a recommendation to accept/revise/reject the manuscript; any recommendation should be congruent with the comments provided in the review. If you have not reviewed the whole manuscript, do indicate which aspects of the manuscript you have assessed. Ensure your comments and recommendations for our editorial board are consistent with your report for the authors; most feedback should be put in the report that the authors will see. Confidential comments to the editor should not be a place for denigration or false accusation, done in the knowledge that the authors will not see your comments.
Language and style: Remember it is the authors’ paper, so do not attempt to rewrite it to your preferred style if it is basically sound and clear; suggestions for changes that improve clarity are, however, important. Also, be aware of the sensitivities surrounding language issues that are due to the authors writing in a language that is not their first or most proficient language, and phrase the feedback appropriately and with due respect. You can entrust any issues regarding language and writing style to our editorial board.
Suggestions for further work: It is the job of the peer reviewer to comment on the quality and rigor of the work they receive. If the work is not clear because of missing analyses, the reviewer should comment and explain what additional analyses would clarify the work submitted. It is not the job of the reviewer to extend the work beyond its current scope. Be clear which (if any) suggested additional investigations are essential to support claims made in the manuscript under consideration and which will just strengthen or extend the work.
Accountability: Prepare the report by yourself, unless you have permission to involve another person. Refrain from making unfair negative comments or including unjustified criticisms of any competitors’ work mentioned in the manuscript. Suggestions must base on valid academic or technological reasons. Do not intentionally prolong the review process, either by delaying the submission of your review or by requesting unnecessary additional information.
What to consider after peer review
You may accommodate requests from journals to review revisions or resubmissions of manuscripts you have reviewed previously. It is helpful to respond promptly if we contact you about matters related to your review and to provide the information required. Similarly, you can contact us if anything relevant comes to light after you have submitted your review that might affect your original feedback and recommendations. Continue to respect the confidential nature of the review process and do not reveal details of the manuscript after peer review unless you have permission.