- Summarize the article in a short paragraph. This shows the editor you have read and understood the research.
- Give your main impressions of the article, including whether it is novel and interesting, whether it has a sufficient impact and adds to the knowledge base.
- Ideally when commenting, do so using short, clearly-defined paragraphs and make it easy for the editor and author to see what section you’re referring to.
- Assess whether the article conforms to the journal-specific instructions (e.g. the guide for authors).
- Give specific comments and suggestions about e.g. title, abstract: Does the title accurately reflect the content? Is the abstract complete and stand-alone?
- Check the graphical abstracts and/or highlights.
- Keep your comments strictly factual and don’t speculate on the motives of the author(s)
- Carefully review the methodology, statistical errors, results, conclusion/discussion, and references.
- Consider feedback on the presentation of data in the article, the sustainability and reproducibility of any methodology, the analysis of any data and whether the conclusions are supported by the data.
- Raise your suspicions with the editor if you suspect plagiarism, fraud or have other ethical concerns, providing as much detail as possible. Visit Elsevier’s ethics page or consult the COPE guidelines for more information.
- Be aware of the possibility for bias in your review. Unconscious bias can lead us all to make questionable decisions which impact negatively on the academic publishing process. Read further to find out more about this important subject and to view resources on how to identify and tackle bias.
- Feel the need to comment on the spelling, grammar or layout of the article. If the research is sound, but let down by poor language; recommend to the editor that the author(s) have their paper language edited.
- Make ad-hominem comments.
- Dismiss alternative viewpoints or theories that might conflict with your own opinions on a topic: when reviewing, maintain an open perspective.
- Share the review or information about the review with anyone without the agreement of the editors and authors involved. According to COPE guidelines, reviewers must treat any manuscripts they are asked to review as confidential documents. This applies both during and after the publication process unless the journal employs open peer review.
- Suggest that the author includes citations to your (or your associates’) work unless for genuine scientific reasons and not with the intention of increasing citation counts or enhancing the visibility of your work (or that of your associates).