All unpublished articles are confidential documents. Please do not discuss the manuscript even with a colleague. Reviewers should read the abstract to understand the major points of the manuscript. You may receive a manuscript which is outside of your own interests. If so, you should not agree to be a referee. If you have little knowledge of statistical analysis or techniques of the manuscript, please inform the editor. Reviewers who are not familiar with qualitative studies should decline to review these manuscripts.
Reviewers need to provide a fair review of the manuscript. Reviewers should be honest with authors in terms of their concerns about the article. Conflict of interest is usually very difficult to judge. However, it is good way to declare anything that might make you uncomfortable. For example, if you are a close friend of the author, or a paid consultant for the study, please decline the invitation to review. If there is a potential conflict of interest and you feel you can provide a fair review, please ask the editor to advise you on this. If you have already reviewed the manuscript for another journal, please inform the editor. Please provide detailed and constructive comments that will both facilitate the editors to make a decision and the authors to improve their manuscripts. It is indispensable to consider the following points:
- Is the manuscript important?
- Does the structure of the manuscript reflect the title, abstract, introduction and conclusion?
- Will it assist readers to make better decisions?
- Will the manuscript make a contribution to new knowledge?
- Is the writing concise, easy to follow, informative, interesting?
- Does the manuscript make sense?
Even if we do not accept a paper we wish to offer constructive comments that might help the authors to improve their manuscript. If you review a research article, please comment on:
Do authors add to what is already known in the medical education literature on the topic? Does the work matter to medical educators, medical education policymakers, researchers and patients?
Purpose and research question
Is the purpose of the study clear? Does the study formulate interesting research questions? Do authors clearly define the research question and appropriately answer?
Do the participants of the study adequately explain? (The source of the participants and how they were selected, the number of participants studied and why that number of participants was recruited). Do authors report any steps taken to persuade participation in the study? Do they report the response rate?
Do authors clearly state the type of study? (For example: retrospective, prospective, cross-sectional, quasi-experimental or randomised trials). If the study is a qualitative inquiry approach, it should also be clearly stated whether the study is grounded theory, phenomenology, ethnography or case study). Is the study approved by an ethics committee? Does the design of the study answer the research question appropriately?
Did the results answer the research question? Do they present clearly and objectively without interpretation? Did the effect sizes and confidence intervals report for the main results?
Did authors discuss in the light of previous studies? Did the results recommend further studies? Did the implications of the results state? Did the interpretations ensue from the results? Did the limitations of the study state? Were the arguments developed in an orderly manner?
The main purpose of the review is to provide the editors with the information needed to make a decision. The IJME has a system of blind refereeing. In order to keep anonymity we do not reveal the identity of the author(s).
Following receipt, the manuscript is read through by the editorial staff. The editor will make a decision about the future of the submission. The editor will notify the author of the decision. Only those manuscripts that seem most likely to meet our editorial criteria are sent for formal review. Manuscripts that do not meet the standards of the journal will be returned to the authors within one week. These manuscripts are promptly declined without external review. The journal policy requires each article be reviewed by two individuals who are highly competent and known in the particular field of the submitted article. The journal office will contact those potential reviewers that have been chosen by the editors. Authors are encouraged to introduce the names of individuals whom they judge are suitable and qualified to give an unbiased review of their work. Once reviewers have confirmed to read through and comment on an article, they are given a 3-week deadline to complete the review.
Those that meet the minimum criteria are passed on to three experts for review. The editors then make a decision based on the reviewers' comments:
- Accept, with or without editorial revisions.
- Invite the authors to revise their article to incorporate specific comments before a final decision is made. Revised articles are re-reviewed by the same reviewers to decide whether or not the authors have satisfactorily incorporated the reviewers' comments and the editor's concerns. When reviewers agree to assess a paper, we consider this a commitment to review subsequent revisions. However, the editors will not send a resubmitted paper back to the reviewers if it seems that the authors have not made a serious attempt to incorporate the criticisms. This is a crucial stage in the process of peer review. If the authors have not satisfactorily addressed the reviewers' comments and the editor, the manuscript will be declined. Revised articles must be submitted within 90 days of the date on the decision.
- Reject, but may be reconsidered if various revisions can be made.
- Completely Reject, typically articles which are insufficiently original or have serious scientific flaws. All rejections are final and the IJME will not reassess any rejected articles as a revised article.
We ask our peer-reviewers to consider the following points when appraising an article:
- Is the paper important?
- Will the paper add enough to existing knowledge?
- Does the paper read well and make sense?
The decision letter and reviewers' comments are sent to the corresponding author. Any queries or concerns about the editorial decision on any manuscript must be made in writing directly to the editorial office.
Are the references presented according to the journal's style? Did the references include all sources cited in the text, table and figures of the manuscript? Were the references up to date? PubMed may be a quick way to check reference accuracy. If there is a lot of evidence of the topic and authors have selected very few, this might be a key indication of insufficient coverage of the topic.
Please send out your comments in the time requested by the editor. This is because authors have concern about the editor decision and wish to see the reviewers' comments to improve their manuscripts. If you are unable to complete the review in the time requested, inform the editor.
Reviewers should also spot plagiarism. If a reviewer suspects plagiarism, it will be necessary to identify the original material and then inform the editor.
When English is not the first language of the author, a reviewer needs to inform the editor. The manuscript should not be declined just for English language problems. However, reviewers are expected to make comments about grammar and spelling errors and encourage authors of poorly worded articles to seek professional editing assistance in rewriting the article. Reviewers should be sensitive to authors who are not native English speakers.
Reviewers should be author friendly. The reviewers' comments should be directed to the manuscript, not to the article's author. Reviewers should be critical of the article, and not of the author.
Reviewers are also expected to make a decision regarding the manuscript. For example, accept as it is, accept with minor correction, resubmit with major revision, reject, submit elsewhere, has potential for publication, etc. Reviewers need to give comments about the strengths and weaknesses of the study, if they do not like to make a decision about the manuscript.
Finally, there are resources on the web to support reviewers for reviewing a paper. There are also additional resources about the review. Reviewers may wish to read the following resources to provide directions, tips, background information and current debates regarding the peer-review process:
- Benos DJ, Kirk KL, Hall JE. How to review a paper. ADV PHYSIOL EDUC. 2003; 27: 47–52
- Black N, van Rooyen S, Godlee F, Smith R, and Evans S. What makes a good reviewer and a good review for a general medical journal? JAMA.1998; 280: 231–233.
- Harden M, Wright K, Misso K. How to review a paper. J Health Serv Res Policy. 2009; 14: 255-256.