Writing a Peer Review


Writing the Report

Peer reviewers should assess the major strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript as well as look at the statistical power of the study if relevant.

In the first part of their report, peer reviewers should answer the questions assessing the quality and content of the manuscript and scientific methods. These will guide the peer reviewer to reflect on points which might need to be addressed by the author(s).

Peer reviewers must ensure that they answer the following questions in their report:

  • In general, is the paper easy to follow and does it have a logical flow?
  • Do the title and abstract cover the main aspects of the work?
  • Are the results novel? Does the study provide an advance in the field?
  • Did the study gain ethical approval appropriate to the country in which the research was performed if human or animal subjects were involved and is it stated in the manuscript?
  • Does the paper raise any ethical concerns?
  • Are the methods clear and replicable?
  • Do all the results presented match the methods described?
  • Is the statistical analysis appropriate to the study design?
  • Are the controls appropriate for the study design?
  • Is the data clearly and appropriately presented using clear language?
  • Did the authors make the underlying data available to the readers?
  • Do the conclusions correlate to the results found?
  • Are the figures and tables clear and legible?
  • Are images appropriate for the article? If there are any concerns about duplication or manipulation in images, please raise potential issues by email or in your report. Please refer to our image manipulation policy.
  • Does the paper use appropriate references in the correct style to promote understanding of the content?
  • Does the English grammar, punctuation or spelling need to be corrected?

Peer reviewers should then provide the Editor-in-Chief with a recommendation regarding the suitability of the manuscript for publication by giving a score from 1-9 detailing the quality of the manuscript (manuscripts with a score of 1 are of outstanding quality).

The table below provides the scoring system and gives the definition of each number.



Suggested Action 



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



Accept after discretionary revisions.


Very good

Some minor revisions needed.



Several minor revisions needed.



Paper requires multiple minor revisions, but I commend this paper to the Editor-in-Chief.



One major revision and several minor revisions needed.



Some major revisions needed with multiple minor revisions required.


Very poor

Major revisions needed to improve scientific validity and/or clarity.



The manuscript has major flaws that cannot be improved with revisions. 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.

In the second part of the report, the peer reviewer must explain their recommendation by writing a short summary describing their assessment of the manuscript. They should then provide numbered comments detailing points to be addressed by the author(s). 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.

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

Updated 25 June 2019