Writing a Peer Review


Writing review reports:

All manuscripts submitted to Dove Medical Press (DMP) journals are subject to single-anonymous (previously referred to as single-blind) peer review. Authors’ identities are known to reviewers, but reviewers are anonymous. We believe that using anonymous peer reviewers is the best way to get honest opinions on papers. DMP requires that peer reviewers not contact authors directly.
Please Note:

  • Peer-review is a confidential process. This is a personal individual invitation - if you wish to ask a colleague to peer review this paper you must contact us first.
  • Peer-review comments can only be accepted online via our reviewer system. We cannot accept downloaded manuscript files that you have annotated or modified in any way.
  • Your review should provide an objective critical evaluation of the paper in the broadest terms.

Before agreeing to review for a journal, consider the following:

  • How will you need to submit your review? DMP asks reviewer to use the structured peer review evaluation form .
  • Are you aware of the ethical guidelines for reviewers? COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers 
  • Do you have any conflicts of interest? If so, please use the link provided in the review invitation to decline to review.
  • Can you complete the review in the allotted time? DMP require the reviewer to submit their review comment 10 days from accepting the review invitation. If you struggle to meet the deadline, please contact the editorial team with a request for an extension.

Research the journal

Visit the journal homepage here to get a sense of the journal’s content and house style. This will help you decide whether the paper you’re reviewing is suitable for the journal or not.

The main factors you should provide advice on are:

  • The originality, presentation, and relevance of the manuscript’s subject matter to the readership of the journal
  • The accuracy of the methodology
  • Assess the major strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript as well as look at the statistical power of the study if relevant

First read-through

  • Is it clear what the authors want to communicate and the direction of the manuscript?
  • Is it reporting original research or is it another type of article? How does this change your report?
  • What contribution does the article make to the field of study?
  • Is the manuscript original?
  • Is the overall study design and approach appropriate?
  • Are you concerned about the language? Are revisions needed to make it possible to review?

DMP requires the reviewer to use the peer review evaluation form provided. Further information can be found in the User Manual.

Provide detailed comments

Your peer review should provide an objective critical evaluation on the technical aspects of the paper. The comments should be constructive suggestions, seek clarification on any unclear points, and ask for further elaboration.

  • Make suggestions on how the author can improve clarity, succinctness, and the quality of presentation.
  • Confirm whether you feel the subject of the paper is sufficiently interesting to justify its length. If you recommend shortening, show specific areas where you think it’s required.
  • It’s not the reviewer’s job to edit the paper for English, but it is helpful if you suggest how to correct the English where the technical meaning is unclear.
  • All requested major revisions should be clearly outlined. Minor revisions should also be mentioned where the peer reviewer feels these will improve the clarity and purpose of the manuscript.
  • A referee may disagree with the author’s opinions, but should allow them to stand, provided their evidence supports it.
  • Remember that authors will welcome positive feedback as well as constructive criticism.
  • Being critical whilst remaining sensitive to the author isn’t always easy. Comments should be carefully worded so the author understands what actions they need to take to improve their paper. Avoid generalized or vague statements as well as any negative comments which aren’t relevant or constructive.

You can find examples of comments of how you might provide feedback on an author’s work here

  • If any form of misconduct is suspected such as plagiarism, undeclared conflicts of interest, falsification of results etc., these should be expressed directly in Confidential Comments for the Editor-in-Chief of the journal.

Make a recommendation

Once you’ve read the paper and have assessed its quality, you need to make a recommendation regarding the suitability of the manuscript for publication .


Suggested Action 

Accept - without further changes

Paper is well written and a significant contribution to the literature. No improvement needed.

Revise - with minor changes

Some minor revisions needed.

Revise - with major changes

Some major revisions needed

Reject - not suitable for revision

The manuscript has major flaws that cannot be improved with revisions

Reject - not sound/not suitable for publication

Rejection without option to resubmit recommended


  • Discretionary Revision: An optional revision that may improve the overall quality of the manuscript but does not affect the scientific validity of the study.
  • Minor Revisions: Issues that must be addressed by the author(s) before publication in order to adhere to scientific reporting standards, or issues affecting clarity.
  • Major Revisions: Major revisions needed which may consist of a lack of ethical consent statement, a conclusion contradicted by results, further experiments needed to support the conclusions (e.g. controls), unclear figures and tables etc.

Final checks – before you submit your report

  • Have you given positive feedback as well as constructive criticism?
  • Are your concerns specific, with examples where possible?
  • Have you referred to page/ line numbers in the article to make it easy for the authors to address your points?
  • Is your feedback constructive, and focused on the research?
  • If you were the authors, would you understand how to improve the manuscript?
  • If you were the Editor, would the comments be detailed enough to help you make a decision?
  • Have you checked the spelling and grammar in your report?
  • Have you included your comments in the correct places in the online system – checking that any confidential comments for editors are in the right place – and have you answered all the questions?

Parts of this section are reprinted or adapted from ‘A guide to becoming a peer reviewer’ published by our parent company Taylor & Francis.

Updated 9 July 2024