Duties of Reviewers
Contribution to editorial decisions
Peer review assists the editor in making editorial decisions and through the editorial communications with the author may also assist the author in improving the paper. Peer review is an essential component of formal scholarly communication, and lies at the heart of the scientific method. In addition to the specific ethics-related duties described below, reviewers are asked generally to treat authors and their work as they would like to be treated themselves and to observe good reviewing etiquette.
Any selected referee who feels unqualified to review the research reported in a manuscript or knows that its prompt review will be impossible should notify the editor and decline to participate in the review process.
Any manuscripts received for review must be treated as confidential documents. Reviewers must not share the review or information about the paper with anyone or contact the authors directly without permission from the editor.
Some editors encourage discussion with colleagues or co-reviewing exercises, but reviewers should first discuss this with the editor in order to ensure that confidentiality is observed and that participants receive suitable credit.
Unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted manuscript must not be used in a reviewer’s own research without the express written consent of the author. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage.
Alertness to ethical issues
A reviewer should be alert to potential ethical issues in the paper and should bring these to the attention of the editor, including any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which the reviewer has personal knowledge. Any statement that an observation, derivation, or argument had been previously reported should be accompanied by the relevant citation.
Standards of objectivity & competing interests
Reviews should be conducted objectively. Reviewers should be aware of any personal bias they may have and take this into account when reviewing a paper. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Referees should express their views clearly with supporting arguments.
Reviewers should consult the Editor before agreeing to review a paper where they have potential conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers.
If a reviewer suggests that an author includes citations to the reviewer’s (or their associates’) work, this must be for genuine scientific reasons and not with the intention of increasing the reviewer’s citation count or enhancing the visibility of their work (or that of their associates).