Primary Literature Articles – Reviewing Guidelines

1. Declining a review request – Referees who need to decline a review request (for whatever reason, e.g. lack of time or lack of the specific expertise required) should as soon as possible notify the editor that they recuse themselves.

2. Conflict of interest – Referees should, as soon as possible, notify the editor that they recuse themselves from reviewing the manuscript if there is a conflict of interest. There is a conflict of interest where impartial and objective review is compromised for any reasons which could introduce bias or could be reasonably perceived by anyone as a possible source of bias.

3. Anonymity – The review process is double-blind. Referees shall abstain from any action that could breach their anonymity vis-a-vis the author. 

4. Tasks – A referee is expected to:    

4.1. Scrutinise the paper received for evaluation – This includes directly inserting in the paper detailed comments and suggested changes as necessary (using the track changes mode). The wording should be kept neutral and courteous. Once you have finished your review, please make the reviewed file (including your comments) anonymous before sending it back to the editor: File / Info / Check for issues / Inspect document / Deselect all options except “Document properties and personal information” / Inspect / Remove all / Close / Save.

4.2. Draft a concise evaluation report addressed to both the editor and the author – In this report, the referee will (a) explain the major strengths and weaknesses of the paper, and (b) make a recommendation in terms of publishing, revising or declining.

5. Criteria – The criteria to be used for the evaluation are outlined in the Review Form.

6. Constructiveness and supportiveness – In the evaluation report, referees shall make sure to: (a) Explain the reasoning behind their criticisms, providing arguments and examples as necessary (in addition, it should be kept in mind that in case of rejection, authors may appeal based on contesting referees’ comments and looking for evidence that these comments were wrong); (b) Provide suggestions that could help the author improve the manuscript; and (c) Keep to neutral and courteous language.   

7. Recommendations – Referees shall conclude their evaluation report with one of the following four possible recommendations: (a) Acceptance (i.e. no revision is required); (b) Acceptance conditional to minor revision (i.e. upon receipt, the revised article will be checked by the editor, with the assistance of the referees if needed); (c) Major revision (i.e. the author has to resubmit the revised paper along with a point by point response. The revised paper will be sent back to the referees for reassessment before a final decision is made); or (d) Rejection.   

8. Private report to editor – The referee may also draft an additional separate comment specifically addressed to the editor, which will not be disclosed to the author.

9. Confidentiality – The review process is confidential. Therefore, referees should not share the materials they receive with anyone, whether during the review process or after it has ended. In particular, they should not refer the manuscript to any colleague or student without the permission of the editor. Referees should also not make use of, or quote from, the manuscript before it is published.

10. Ethics – Referees should be impartial and comply with standards of ethical conduct, including the ethical guidelines for peer reviewers set by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and the ethical standards “17. Responsibilities of Reviewers” of the Code of Ethics of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).