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Reviewer Guidelines

Peer review is a process used to assess the validity, significance and originality of research before publication in a scientific journal. Reviewers provide detailed and constructive comments, which will help editors make a decision on publication and the author(s) improve their manuscript.

Research Involvement and Engagement is a co-produced journal, and every article is reviewed by at least two academic and two patient reviewers with the both types of review carrying equal weight in the editorial decision. More details on our aims and scope can be found via our About page.

Below is a schematic of what happens to a manuscript once it is submitted to Research Involvement and Engagement. Click here to enlarge the graphic.

Peer Review Process​​​​​​​

Why consider peer reviewing?

We encourage you to consider supporting Research Involvement and Engagement as an academic or patient peer reviewer. We understand that a peer-reviewed journal would not survive without the generous time and constructive comments of the reviewers. For these reasons, we publicly acknowledge our peer reviewers on an annual basis and invite some of our reviewers to become Editorial Board Members for a period, to help shape the journal going forward.

Our position on including patient review is that we believe in “nothing about me without me”, and it is a point of principle for us that our journal on patient and public involvement and engagement should not only publish examples, but that the journal itself should be one of the examples. Patient review adds an important and often fresh set of perspectives, in particular focusing on the accessibility of a paper to a wider audience and the relevance of the manuscript’s findings.

If our patient reviewers are interested in submitting manuscripts to Research Involvement and Engagement, and have submitted a certain number of reviewer reports in the last year, you can request a waiver for the Article Processing Charge associated with publishing in the journal. For more information use the ‘Contact us’ email detailed at the bottom of this page.

How to register as a reviewer?

To join our pool of peer reviewers you will need to create an account in our secure Editorial Manager database (select patient reviewer or academic reviewer). When activating your account online, you will be able to indicate your classifications or areas of expertise so you are sent manuscripts to peer review that align with your interests.

What happens when the article is published?

As an open peer review journal, if the article you review is published, your named report is published online alongside the article under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0. We welcome our reviewers to cite their reviews. Citations should be in the following format:

Surname, first initial(s). Referee Report For: Published article title, Journal Name, Year, Volume: Page (URL to reviewer report – accessed on Date)

In addition to recording the role of peer reviewer for Research Involvement and Engagement on CVs, we can also provide confirmation of review on branded letter headed paper or reviewer certificates. If you require either of these, please use the ‘Contact us’ email at the bottom of this page.

Useful training resources for peer reviewers

Springer Nature’s resources for peer reviewers can be found here.

The Nature Masterclasses platform offers a free online course on peer review, which features video interviews with Nature Research journal editors, experienced peer reviewers, and published authors. The course contains key and relevant insight into the complexities of peer review and is made up of four modules, which can either be worked through in sequence or as and when the modules are required. Total course duration is around three hours. On completion of the course, participants will have the opportunity to download a Nature Masterclasses course completion certificate. If you’re interested, simply register on the Nature Masterclasses website.

Other useful peer reviewing resources include:

Being invited to review a manuscript

Reviewers are invited via email and asked to submit their reviewer reports with our online editorial system, Editorial Manager. Please accept or decline this invitation as quickly as possible to prevent delays to authors, so the editors will know if they need to invite alternative reviewers.

Any manuscript sent for peer review is a confidential document and should remain so until it is formally published.

We ask reviewers to return their reports within 14 days of accepting the invitation to help support timely decisions for authors. If reviewers encounter or foresee any problems meeting the deadline for a report, they should contact the Editorial Office using the ‘Contact us’ button in Editorial Manager or by the email detailed at the bottom of this page.

If you have a competing interest that may influence your comments on a manuscript, we ask that you decline the reviewer invitation. All reviewers, both academic and patient, must be able to provide independent feedback and you should decline an invitation if you have worked with any of the authors, or you feel your relationship with an author would influence or prevent you providing true recommendations on the manuscript. More details on what constitutes as a competing interest can be found via our editorial policies page.

Points to consider in your review

Reviewers should consider the following points, which are listed in the box and elaborated on in more detail below, and indicate whether they consider any required revisions to be 'major compulsory revisions', 'minor essential revisions' or 'discretionary revisions'.

Summary of some of the questions to consider when peer reviewing:

  1. Is the manuscript written in an understandable way?
  2. Is all the relevant information available to you?
  3. Is there an aim, research question or reason for doing the research, and has this research been put in the context of previous work?
  4. Have all methods been described in sufficient detail to allow others to evaluate and/or replicate the work in similar circumstances?
  5. Have the results been presented and discussed clearly and completely?
  6. Do the results support the authors’ conclusions?
  7. Are the included additional files (supplementary materials) appropriate?
  8. Are there any ethical or competing interests issues you would like to raise?
  9. Do you have any other suggestions that might help the author(s) strengthen their paper to make it more applicable to the community?

Please note that these points are intended as a guide. If there are points you can or cannot address, please let the editors know. These points are also not meant to restrict your review in any way if you want to comment on other aspects. Each reviewer brings different and unique perspectives to the decision making process for editors, and we appreciate all insights you are able to provide.

As an open peer review journal that publishes reviewer reports alongside published articles, you can see examples of peer review reports by accessing any of our published articles and selecting ‘Open Peer Review reports’ underneath the article title.

If you have any questions about the reviewing for Research Involvement and Engagement, please contact us using the ‘Contact us’ email detailed at the bottom of this page.

1. Is the manuscript written in an understandable way?

If you consider the writing, organization, tables or images to be unclear, please let us know. In particular, please pay attention to the plain language summary, to check that it is readable and an accurate representation of the article.

If the manuscript is organized in such a manner that it is illogical or not easily accessible to the reader please suggest improvements.

2. Is all the relevant information available to you?

Research Involvement and Engagement supports the complete and transparent reporting of research. We ask authors to use the Guidance for Reporting Involvement of Patients and the Public (GRIPP 2) reporting guidelines when preparing submissions to the journal, and ask authors to submit populated GRIPP2 Long Form checklists as an additional file. As a reviewer, please use this checklist as an aid as it should help you understand what the authors did and found. If anything is unclear or needs further explaining in the manuscript, please let the authors know.

If GRIPP2 is not relevant, other reporting guidelines are available for different study designs in health research can be found via the EQUATOR Network.

3. Is there an aim, research question or reason for doing the research, and has this research been put in the context of previous work?

Have they explained why they did what they did? e.g., what were the reasons behind conducting the research (in the context of improving health); why they used this specific method etc.

Has it been made clear as to why this paper is important to improving patient care or lives generally?

4. Have all methods been described in sufficient detail to allow others to evaluate and/or replicate the work in similar circumstances?

Is it clear what was done at each stage and what the outcome was? Is the study design appropriate for the study aim, research question, or reason for doing the research? Has the study been conducted with the appropriate materials or participants? Is there a need for a control? Has an appropriate control been used? If anything is not clear, please provide feedback as to what needs clarifying.

Have appropriate statistical tests been used? If you do not feel qualified to judge the statistics then tell the editor. They may need to use a specialist statistical reviewer.

If there were any changes made to the methods during the course of the research, have the authors described these changes and the rationale for the change occurring?

Have the roles, skills and contributions of all people in the research team (including advisors, contributors and consultees) been explained, with discussion of how they worked together?

Are there any discussions about the management of ethical issues (e.g. provision of adequate information about research tasks, peer supervision, formal ethical approval)?

What mention has been made of the equitable treatment of all members of the research team? e.g. remuneration, accessibility, capacity etc.

5. Have the results been presented and discussed clearly and completely?

Do the results presented match the methods described? Are there any results missing?

Please provide feedback on whether the data are presented in the most appropriate manner; for example, is a table being used where a graph would be better?

Have the author(s) provided a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the methods?

Have the author(s) discussed what was already known and what this article adds?

Have the author(s) explained the relevance of what they have done in a wider context?

6. Do the results support the authors’ conclusions?

Is the interpretation (discussion and conclusion) of the article, well balanced and supported by what was done and/or seen? 

Have the authors made exaggerated claims that are not supported by their findings or put a ‘spin’ on the way they discuss their results to suit a particular point of view? This is where you should reconsider their competing interests and funding statements.

7. Are the included additional files (supplementary materials) appropriate?

Authors can submit a variety of additional files to support the applicability and context or their manuscript, including movies, tabular data and mini-websites. Reviewers are encouraged to comment on the appropriateness of the types of additional files; do they make sense and are they fully explained?

8. Are there any ethical or competing interests issues you would like to raise?

The study should adhere to ethical standards of scientific/medical research and the authors should declare that they have received ethics approval and/or patient consent for the study, where appropriate. While we do not expect reviewers to delve into authors' competing interests, if you are aware of any issues that you do not think have been adequately addressed or declared, please inform the Editorial Office.

9. Do you have any other suggestions that might help the author(s) strengthen their paper to make it more applicable to the community?

Are there any points not highlighted above that the authors should address? E.g. more data to support the authors' conclusions; better justification needed for the arguments based on existing data; or the clarity and/or coherence of the paper needs to be improved.

What happens next?

When you submit your reviewer report you will be asked to recommend a decision of either accept, reject, or minor-essential or major-compulsory revisions.

Following your original review and recommendation, and subsequent revisions of the manuscript by the authors, the editors may ask you to assess the manuscript again to ensure all of your points have been addressed adequately. The final decision of whether to accept or reject a manuscript in the journal lies with the editors.

For more information on the ways we are advancing peer review, see our dedicated page here.

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