Reviewers are an essential part of the publishing process. They assist editors in the manuscript selection process both through their concepts of the relevance, reliability, and quality of the work submitted to them, and their suggestions on how to improve the manuscripts. In addition, they increase the overall quality of the papers presented and the confidence in the validity and integrity of published research (ARAL). Besides, they contribute to the transformation and advancement of both the disciplines and the academics involved, since it motivates them to be more rigorous, clear, organized, methodical and to think of themselves as part of a collective to which they can contribute. Their main functions can be divided into three: before, during and after the review.
Before the Revision
Before the revision process begins, reviewers are encouraged to do the following:
- Respond promptly to the invitation, especially if they cannot do the review.
- Accept to review a manuscript only when they have expertise on the topic, so that an adequate peer review can be carried out.
- Provide precise personal and professional information that accurately accounts for their experience to the journal.
- Inform the journal immediately if they require an extension of the deadline provided.
- Declare possible conflicts of interest. The most common conflict of interests for peer reviewers are:
a, They work at the same institution with any of the authors or they will join that institution or apply for a job there.
- They are at present, or they have been during the last three years, close mentors, trainees, collaborators, or grant recipients with the authors.
- They have a close personal or professional relationship with any of the authors.
- They discover that the manuscript they have been asked to review is very similar to one they are preparing or have under consideration with a journal or publisher.
- They have a direct or indirect financial (or non-financial) interest in the outcome of the review (e.g., if the manuscript contradicts something about a well-known, public point of view/perspective).
- They have been involved somehow with the manuscript or with written preliminary reports.
- In case of suggesting alternative peer reviewers, make sure that suggestions are based on suitability and are not influenced by personal considerations or made with the intention that the manuscript receive a specific result (either positive or negative).
- Avoid agreeing to review manuscripts just to view them, and without having a real intention of submitting a review.
During the Revision
When preparing the report, peer reviewers should:
- Note that the editor contacted them for their mastery of the subject, their good judgment, and their ability to produce an honest and fair peer review of the strengths and weaknesses of the work and the manuscript.
- Follow the journal’s instructions on the specific comments requested and how these should be organized.
- Be objective and constructive in their reviews, providing comments that help authors improve their manuscript, and avoiding derogatory personal comments or unfounded accusations.
- Be specific in their criticisms, providing evidence when pertinent to assist editors with their assessment and decision making, and to be fair to the authors.
- Avoid trying to rewrite the work in a preferred style when the work is basically solid and clear. Instead, offer suggestions on how to improve the clarity of the manuscript.
- Take into account the authors’ feelings when they write in a language that is not their own. Comment appropriately with due respect.
- Clarify what additional research might be needed to support the claims made in the manuscript and improve its quality.
- Make comments without positioning other people in a derogatory or unfair way.
- Make sure comments and recommendations to the editor are consistent with the report to the authors.
- Keep the details of the manuscript and its review confidential (COPE, Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers).
- Follow the journal’s Guidelines for Authors and avoid recommending any changes that might contradict these.
After the Revision
One the review is done, peer reviewers should:
- Respond promptly if the journal contacts them on matters related to the manuscript review and provide the required information.
- Contact the journal after submitting their review if you become aware of relevant information that may affect their previous comments and recommendations.
- Try to respond positively to the journal’s requests to review the authors’ corrections or re-submissions.
Benefits of Being an Peer Reviewer
Being a peer reviewer is an enriching experience that every academic should have as it allows them to:
- Learn more about the editorial process. Íkala considers interaction among the peer reviewers to be an exchange of knowledge. We believe, in this exchange, the peer reviewers can enhance their knowledge of the ins and outs of scholarly publishing while offering the community their specialized knowledge in the area.
- Keep updated in terms of new research in the field. Peer reviewers have the opportunity to see first-hand the research studies that are being carried out in Colombia and around the world.
3. Contribute with their experience not only to the area but to the professional development of colleagues all over the world.
- Be recognized and given credit for their work. At the end of the year, Íkala gives official recognition to all the peer reviewers who collaborated with the articles of the different issues.
Ethical Guidelines for Peer reviewers
In the review and publication process, a number of ethical guidelines must be followed. These guidelines can be found in the Ethical Guidelines for Peer reviewers section, or by consulting the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers (https://publicationethics.org/files/Peer%20review%20guidelines.pdf).
Resources for Peer reviewers
Although the resources for peer reviewers is limited, several of them are included in this section. As more of them become available, they will be shared here.
- COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers (https://doi.org/10.24318/cope.2019.1.9)
- Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)(publicationethics.org)
- Rewarding Reviewers; Sense or Sensibility? A Wiley Study Explained: (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/leap.1002)
To choose peer reviewers, Íkala carries out a search that includes: asking colleagues about experts they know in the field; consulting manuscript references; searching the internet for key words; and consulting the databases of professional organizations. Once experts have been identified, the journal selects those individuals who meet the following criteria:
- Do not appear to have any no conflict of interest.
- Seem experts in the area, and specifically in the topic of the manuscript, namely, as reflected in their publications and their participation in international conferences or events organized by accredited professional associations or societies in the last two years.
- Hold a doctorate degree or, as a minimum, a master’s.
- Have actively participated in research related to the subject in the last five years.
- Are active in the subject area and seem familiar with current developments in the respective scientific field.
- Own at least two recent publications (in the last two years) in journals or periodicals of international circulation that are leading publications in the related scientific field.
- Preferably, have experience reviewing manuscripts for this or other journals.
FAQs about the Peer Review Process
- How will I decide whether to accept or decline an invitation to participate in a review?
In order to accept or decline a peer review, there are two important points to consider: expertise and time. If you believe that the manuscript does not match your area of expertise, the system will allow you to decline the invitation and to recommend an alternative relevant expert. However if the manuscript is suitably within your area of expertise but you lack time to do a thorough review, you may ask for an extension of the deadline.
- How much time do I have to submit the review?
Íkala gives a peer reviewer 3 weeks to provide a constructive review and recommendation for the editor. It is important that the peer reviewer does not wait the three weeks to register and accept the invitation. This should be done as soon as the peer reviewer receives a review invitation. This way, the editor will know if the peer reviewer is able to submit the report within the three weeks or if an alternative reviewer is required.
- How can I become an peer reviewer?
Íkala takes into account the following criteria when selecting peer reviewers:
(a) Expertise in the field of study and preferably with the specific subject of the manuscript. Publications and participation in international conferences or events organized by accredited professional associations or societies within the last two years.
(b) Level of Education: Preferably a doctoral degree or, as a minimum, a master’s degree.
(c) Active participation in research related to the field of study or the subject of the manuscript within the past five years.
(d) Publications: At least two journal publications over the last two years in periodic, international publications of importance in the related scientific field.
(e) Experience: Having experience evaluating manuscripts for Íkala or other journals.
If you meet these requirements, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name, level of education, name of institution where you work, and your current areas of research.
- Is there any kind of recognition for peer reviewers?
Íkala does not offer any payment to review manuscripts. Peer reviewers volunteer and donate their time to review manuscripts that will benefit the scientific community. However, recognizing the importance of the peer reviewer’s work, they are given a participation or peer reviewer certificate upon request as a means of acknowleding their efforts. The certificate can be used for employment purposes or to demonstrate academic experience as a peer reviewer. In addition, at the end of the year, Íkala gives official recognition to all the peer reviewers who collaborated with the articles of the different issues.
- How should I evaluate a manuscript?
There are many ways to evaluate a manuscript. As Íkala has an official review form, it is advisable to become familiar with it before taking on the task. The form asks some specific questions that guide the review and has a space for comments to authors.
- What criteria should I focus my review on?
The criteria you should focus on are provided in the review form. They include: contribution to the subject area and originality of the topic; rigurosity in the treatment of the topic; clarity of the content throughout the manuscript (introduction, theoretical framework, method, results, discussion and conclusions); support for the author’s interpretations; relevance of tables, graphs and figures; cohesiveness among the different parts of the manuscript; quality of the references; and appropriateness of the writing style.
- Will I remain anonymous if I write comments on the manuscript?
Yes. Once the review is submitted, the assistant and the editor analyze the recommendation received and remove any information in the manuscript and the review form that could identify the peer reviewer, before sending the documents to the authors.
- How will I know if the manuscript was ultimately accepted or rejected?
Íkala does not usually inform the peer reviewers of the editor’s final decision. However, you may contact the editor about this information if you wish to find out why the decision to accept or reject was ultimately made. The names of the other peer reviewers will be kept anonymous.
- How will I know if there is a conflict of interest?
Conflicts of interest exist when a person’s responsibilities in the publication process is excessively influenced by secondary interests of financial, political, personal, professional, or religious nature. Conflicts of interest may apply to editors, authors, and peer reviewers. This concept is explained in the Peer Reviewer Guidelines section named Before the Revision.
- How do I accept an invitation to evaluate a manuscript?
By clicking on the link in your invitation to review, you will be redirected to the reviewer interface on the journal platform. There, you can read the title, abstract, and keywords of the manuscript for review.
We expect this to allow you to figure out whether there is any possibility of a conflict of interest with the research study you have been asked to evaluate. If there is none, click on ‘Accept the Review’ at the bottom of the window. Please note that once you have accepted to carry out the review, Íkala will no longer be able to cancel the invitation to review.
Once you have accepted the review, you can continue to step 2: Guidelines for Peer reviewers. In this step, you will find some concrete instructions on how to approach the review and some relevant definitions. There, you will also be able to download the manuscript and begin reading it.
In the third step, you will find the review form. Please give it a quick read, before filling in the blanks. For most items, you will find the options: completely agree, partially agree, partially disagree, completely disagree. Also, you may complement your response by introducing any additional comments in the Comment box below each question. Then, click on “Submit review.”
Once you do this, you will be taken to step four, “Completion” where you can finalize the process by clicking on “complete.” When the editors receive your review, they will check if it is complete and send you a confirmation and thank-you note, or any questions they may have about your recommendation.
- How do I register to begin the peer review?
Íkala sends a direct peer review invitation. This means that our editorial team has registered your name beforehand. The link will take you directly to the message, without requiring you to enter your username and password. But if you do, you can enter your email address and click on the link “Forgot your password?” to retrieve the password associated to your email address, which will generate a sent message to your mailbox, through which you can enter a new password.
- How do I attach the manuscript with comments?
In the third step, “Download and Review”, you will be requested to fill in the review form, as described above. If you scroll down, you will find a section called “Reviewer files,” where you can upload the manuscript with annotations on the margins, or any other file you deem useful to make your point regarding any manuscript flaws, etc. Please ensure the file is anonymous. Should you have any difficulty with this, our Editorial Team can help you with that.