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Peer Reviewer: Frequently Asked Questions

If you are reading this explanation it may be because a) you are interested in the topic of peer review in general terms or b) you are a Medwave peer reviewer and you want to know more about the journal’s processes and policies.

So, if your answer is b), then first of all, Medwave appreciates your generosity to serve as one of our peer reviewers and your time. A reviewer from a high impact factor journal generally devotes around two and a half hours to finish the review. You may take more time, especially if you are not familiar with our online submission system (OJS), or if you are used to performing your reviews differently. In any event, you will be facing the dreaded learning curve that, as we all know, will disappear with time and practice.

What does Medwave expect from a peer reviewer?

Medwave uses external peer review to ensure quality in what we publish. Even though there is no conclusive evidence that shows that external peer review is better than other forms of review, this is what most top-tier journals do, so this is also what we do.

The peer reviewer is an expert assistant to the editor. We expect the peer reviewer to single out strengths and methodological shortcomings of the assigned manuscript. We expect her to provide a general appraisal of the importance of the topic covered in the paper, especially concerning his or her area of expertise. Sometimes we will require a more methodological assessment, sometimes a more thematic one.

We do not expect peer reviewers to decide the fate of the manuscript (acceptance, rejection), as this is the responsibility of the associate editors and the editor-in-chief. Since we do not conduct open reviews, your annotations, comments and suggestions will only be seen by the journal’s editors.

Do reviewers sign their reviews?

Our peer review process is double blind. This means that the author is masked to the identity of the reviewer and vice versa. We believe this is the most appropriate approach considering our reality, as this method ensures the best way to reduce reviewer bias from whatever source. We do not expect reviewers to sign open reviews. Evaluations will be stored in the online OJS system for traceability and for use by the editors, who are the only ones to communicate with authors.

What are my duties as a peer reviewer?

A manuscript that has been submitted for peer review is a confidential document and must not, for any reason, be disclosed. Reviewers are not to use the ideas therein contained, nor are they to contact authors requesting clarifications or corrections. Scientific advancement occurs in an environment of public trust, and confidentiality is essential. Reviewers are not to show the manuscript to anyone else, unless haven been authorized to do so by an editor. The manuscript must only be reviewed by the assigned reviewer, not anyone else. The reviewer must declare conflicts of interests if they arise during the process of peer review. The reviewer must also commit to absolute confidentiality of the whole process.

The reviewer should be as comprehensive as possible when appraising a manuscript, and should make every effort to identify breach of publication ethics (misconduct) such as plagiarism or duplicate publication. Beyond this initial effort, reviewers are not responsible for false data or plagiarism that might be discovered after publication. The editors are then responsible for adopting corrective measures in accordance with COPE flowcharts and guidelines.

How long do I have to finish a peer review assignment?

Medwave gives peer reviewers 15 days to assess the manuscript starting from the date of assignment in the OJS, which is after having accepted to peer review. We are well aware that other journals give their reviewers a month, but we believe that one of our strengths is that we have a more rapid throughput from submission to publication, compared to other journals. As we know that the author has dedicated a lot of time to produce and report the results of his or her research, who are we to make him or her wait unnecessarily.

We strive to publish accepted manuscripts within three months of their submission. The handling editor contacts potential reviewers and requests availability and interest. If the reviewer agrees to review, the editor makes the assignment in the system. Manuscripts are sent out to more than one peer reviewer. When the assessments come in, the editor make a decision based on the reviewer recommendations and also on his or her critical appraisal.

After acceptance, the manuscript must be put under house style and technical editing, and the final version will be approved by the author. All of this takes time and the peer review phase is only one part of it all.

Are peer reviewers assessed?

Yes. Medwave believes in quality and continuous improvement. We evaluate and grade our peer reviewers. This is done by the associate editors from a scale of 1 to 5. In order to stay on as a peer reviewer, you must have averaged more than 2 at the end of the year. You will be graded as follows:

  1. Unacceptable effort and content
  2. Unacceptable effort or content
  3. Acceptable
  4. Useful and recommendable
  5. Exceptional

Editors will take into account some of the following when grading peer reviewers (from Peer Review in Health Sciences, Second Edition, Edited by Fiona Godlee and Tom Jefferson, 2003):

  • The reviewer points out study methodological strengths and shortcomings.
  • The reviewer comments on how the author has interpreted his data.
  • The reviewer comments on strengths and shortcomings of the text in terms of clarity and writing.
  • The reviewer suggests improvements.
  • Reviewer’s comments are constructive and professional.
  • The editor receives an appreciation of context and perspective in order to decide acceptance or rejection.

If I peer review for Medwave can I submit my own studies to the journal?

Yes. As Medwave has a robust external peer review system, both reviewers and editors can submit their manuscripts to the journal. If the editor-in-chief submits a paper for peer review, the system will ensure that the normal double-blind peer review process is followed, and another editor will be responsible for editorial decision.

What type of article will I be asked to review?

Medwave sends out for peer review research primary studies, case reports, and all noncommissioned and commissioned manuscripts. The latter will include clinical reviews, opinion pieces, analysis, etc. We do not send out for peer reviewer the letters to the editor. Sometimes we do not peer review methodological articles.

All article types have their own checklist in the OJS. We are very insistent on enforcing the use of reporting guidelines found in The EQUATOR Network.

Last update

April 7, 2017