Structured peer review question banks

Many of our journals employ “structured peer review” whereby you will receive a series of questions to make it easier for you to convey recommendations for improvement in a structured manner. Even if your journal does not make use of structured peer review, we strongly recommend considering these questions before starting to review a manuscript. Here follows a list of the standard question banks for different article types. Please note that individual journals might employ journal-specific or additional questions to the below.

Core questions for research articles

  1. Are the objectives and the rationale of the study clearly stated?
    Please provide suggestions to the authors on how to improve the clarity of the objectives and rationale of the study. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  2. If applicable, is the method/study reported in sufficient detail to allow for its replicability and/or reproducibility?
    Please provide suggestions to authors on how to improve the replicability/reproducibility of their study. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  3. If applicable, are statistical analyses, controls, sampling mechanism, and statistical reporting (e.g., P-values, CIs, effect sizes) appropriate and well described?
    Please clearly indicate if the manuscript requires additional peer review by a statistician. Kindly provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to improve the statistical analyses, controls, sampling mechanism, or statistical reporting. Please number each suggestion so that author(s) can more easily respond.
  4. Could the manuscript benefit from additional tables or figures, or from improving or removing (some of the) existing ones?
    Please provide specific suggestions for improvements, removals, or additions of figures or tables. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  5. If applicable, are the interpretations of results and study conclusions supported by the data?
    Please provide suggestions (if needed) to authors on how to improve, tone down, or expand the study interpretations/conclusions. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  6. Have the authors clearly emphasized the strengths of their method/study?
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to better emphasize the strengths of their study. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  7. Have the authors clearly stated the limitations of their method/study? 
    Please list the limitations that the authors need to add or emphasize. Please number each limitation so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  8. Does the manuscript structure, flow or writing need improving (e.g., the addition of subheadings, shortening of text, reorganization of sections, or moving details from one section to another)? 
    Please provide suggestions to the authors on how to improve the manuscript structure and flow. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  9. Could the manuscript benefit from language editing?
    (OPTIONAL)
    Please provide suggestions to authors on how to improve the manuscript text. Please number each suggestion so that author(s) can more easily respond.

Core questions for review articles

  1. Do the authors explain the reason for writing a review article in this field?
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to better justify their reasons. Please number each suggestion so that author(s) can more easily respond.
  2. Does the review article provide a good overview of the development of the field while providing insights on its future development?
    Please list the historical developments of likely future scenarios that authors should add or emphasize more. Please number each suggestion so that author(s) can more easily respond.
  3. Do authors adequately represent the most relevant and recent advances in the field? 
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to improve their reference list to include the relevant topics and cover both historical references and recent developments. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  4. Is the review reported in sufficient detail to allow for its replicability and/or reproducibility (e.g., search strategies disclosed, inclusion criteria and risk of bias assessment for individual studies stated, summary methods specified)?
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to improve the replicability/reproducibility of their review. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  5. Is the statistical summary method (e.g., meta-analysis, meta-regressions) and its reporting (e.g., P-values, 95%CIs, etc.) appropriate and well described?
    Please clearly indicate if the review requires additional peer review by a statistician. Kindly provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to improve the statistical analyses, controls, sampling mechanism, or statistical reporting. Please number each suggestion so that author(s) can more easily respond.
  6. Does the review structure, flow or writing need improving (e.g., the addition of subheadings, shortening of text, reorganization of sections, or moving details from one section to another, following PRISMA guidelines)? 
    Please provide suggestions to authors on how to improve the review structure and flow. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  7. Could the manuscript benefit from language editing?
    (OPTIONAL)
    Please provide suggestions to authors on how to improve the manuscript text. Please number each suggestion so that author(s) can more easily respond.

Optional question bank for research articles

  • Have the authors emphasized the novelty and/or originality of the study?
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to better emphasize the novelty. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  • Are there serious flaws that invalidate the study or make it unpublishable?
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to improve their study design and/or methodology. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
    Does the literature review section need expansion or improvement, e.g. are any key citations missing or are citations excessive?
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to improve the manuscript text. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  • Does the explanation of the generalizability of the findings and/or comparison with other studies need expanding?
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to improve the manuscript. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  • Does the title need improving?
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to improve the title. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  • Does the abstract capture the main research findings or need improving?
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to improve the abstract. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  • Does the highlights section capture the main research findings or need improving?
    Please provide suggestions to authors on how to better capture the main research findings. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.

Optional question bank for review articles

  • Does the title need improving?
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to improve the title. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  • Does the abstract capture the main research findings or need improving?
    Please provide suggestions to the author(s) on how to improve the abstract. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.
  • Does the highlights section capture the main research findings or need improving?
    Please provide suggestions to authors on how to better capture the main research findings. Please number each suggestion so that the author(s) can more easily respond.