Peer review


Peer review, for all its faults, remains the main method of ensuring consistency and quality in biomedical publications. It is far from a flawless system, but is probably the least worst we have.

Authors commonly complain of the time it takes to get a paper published, but the usual hold-up is with peer reviewers. Dove tries very hard to get papers through as rapidly as possible, but is constrained by reviewers. To try to get around this, reviewers are asked (and reminded) to submit their review within two weeks. How many reviewers you get for your paper depends on how many agree and how many submit on time so you will find that there is no set number of reviews. You can see that Dove do all they can to give you a decision as soon as possible.

Many authors are upset when they receive peer reviewer criticisms. Dove uses anonymous peer reviewers as it feels this is the best way to get honest opinions on papers. Unfortunately, honest opinions can sometimes be critical of papers or parts of papers. Once this initial anger has passed it is important to deal with the reviewers comments and here is a guide:

  • However unfair you feel reviewers comments are, do use them constructively. It is rare that a reviewer is trying to be personal or get your work rejected in favor of their own work
  • Remember that the Editor is using the reviewer comments as a guide. As discussed above, electronic publishing allows for far greater numbers of papers to be published than does print. The commonest reasons for rejection of a paper are discussed below.
  • When you are replying to reviewers’ comments, please do so by writing a letter to the Editor and answer all the reviewers’ points one by one. It is important to remember that you do NOT have to accept the reviewer suggestions, however if you do not agree you MUST explain why in a rebuttal in your covering letter. If you are changing the paper in light of the reviewers’ comments, please do describe how and where you have made the changes.

Sometimes a paper will be rejected based on the reviewers’ comments. The usual reasons for this are:

  • The reviewer has suggested plagiarism, research fraud, or redundant (duplicate) publication. This is very rare and it is likely that the Editor or Publisher will get in touch with you to discuss this event. If you wish to know more about this area and how to avoid crossing the boundary from multiple papers from a single study to duplicate publication/self plagiarism, please do have a look at the COPE website
  • The English is too poor. Dove journals are English language journals and papers must be readable in English. Many authors’ first language is not English and understandably there may be errors in the paper. Please do get a native English speaker to check the paper and advise you.
    Alternatively, Dove provide an English language service for papers.  If you need this service, please contact them as soon as possible. There is a per page charge for this service.
  • The paper has no ‘narrative’. An academic paper is no different from other types of written information. It has to make logical sense. The paper has to ‘flow’ and show why the study/review was done, how it was done, what results were found, what conclusions were drawn for these results. This is how your audience will understand what you’ve done and how your paper will be remembered by them. If it is difficult to understand why you did the study and how you did it, the reader is unlikely to pay much attention to your paper. In extreme cases the paper will be rejected as it seems to serve no purpose to the reader. So again, spend time getting this right and if the reviewer or editor has suggested your paper has poor structure make sure you carefully address this problem.

Updated 23 July 2014