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Guidelines for Reviewers

Peer review is the process by which an author’s work is scrutinized by members in the same field of expertise. Our peer review process is a single-blind process; reviewers know the authors’ identities but the reviewers themselves remain anonymous.

Associate Editors send papers out for external reviewers. The invitation to review contains the abstract of the paper; the full paper is available once a reviewer agrees to review. We request reviewers to respond to the invitation within 48 hours and ask them to declare any conflicts of interest that might relate to the manuscript. We understand that reviewers are busy and should accept the invitation to review only if they can review the manuscript in a timely fashion (reviewers are given 10 working days to review).

On acceptance to review a manuscript, the reviewers are expected to review consequent revisions as well. We do not send the revised papers out for re-review unless the authors have responded to the reviewers’ comments.

  • Guidelines for review
  • Confidentiality and conflicts of interest
  • Submitting a reviewer report

Guidelines for review

The Editor uses the information provided in a review to help make an informed decision on the suitability of a manuscript for the Journal.

There are two sections to the reviewer report:

1. Tick box questions related to the quality, originality and relevance of the manuscript, and whether the current format is appropriate (for more information on the different article types click here).

2. Free text boxes in which reviewers can write confidential comments to the Editor and comments to the author.

Comments/suggestions made to the author should be as constructive and as detailed as possible to help the author improve their manuscript. They should not only focus on the quality of the paper (appropriateness and adequacy of experimental design and statistical methods, organisation and clarity, soundness of conclusions, and comprehensiveness of references) but also address originality and relevance within the field as a whole.

When reviewing a paper please consider the following:

  • Is the work original and of a high quality?
  • Is the paper concise, does it read well and make sense? Could it be shortened? If so, please make some recommendations.
  • Is the paper a high priority for publication?
  • Is the design of the study appropriate and does it contain appropriate ethical approval and patient consent?
  • Are the data and statistics correct and appropriate, and are all values given defined?
  • Does the abstract accurately summarise the study?
  • Are the methods detailed enough for the reproduction of experiments?
  • Has the research been carried out ethically?
  • Do the results answer the research question?
  • Are the conclusions clear and based on the data presented?
  • Alert the Editor if the manuscript contains any plagiarised material or false data.

We recommend numbering the comments so that it is easy for the Editor to assess them and for the author to respond. If the manuscript requires extensive editing for grammar or style, please indicate this on the report, but only make specific comments to authors regarding language if they prevent understanding the authors’ meaning or incorrect terminology has been used.

General stylistic, spelling mistakes and grammatical problems will be dealt with by the copy editors. Please ensure that your name is not included in the comments to the authors or any recommendation for publication (which should only be included in the confidential comments to the Editor section).

Please use an objective tone and avoid the use of colloquial language. Constructive criticism is invited but comments judged to be inappropriate or offensive may be deleted or edited.

Any additional comments that you wish the Editor to consider when making a decision should be included in the confidential information. You do not need to duplicate any of the information placed in the comments to the author section, as the Editor can view both sections.

Once your review has been completed, reviewers must return/destroy/erase the manuscript.

Confidentiality and conflicts of interest

Rheumatology operates a single-blind peer review process. Authors do not know who the reviewers are and reviewers should not identify themselves to authors without the Editor’s permission.

Reviewers should treat any manuscript sent to them for review as confidential and it should not be discussed with anyone who is not directly involved in the review process. If you consult colleagues, inform them that the information is confidential and let the Editor know that a colleague has been consulted.

Reviewers should not communicate directly with authors and should raise any queries with the Editorial Office who will liaise with the authors. Any information obtained through the peer review process should not be made use of, disclosed or cited until the manuscript has been published.

If a reviewer is invited to review a manuscript in which they have a conflict of interest (they work with the author, are at the same institute, or work in a competing laboratory, etc), the invited reviewer should inform the Editor of their conflict and decline to review. Some examples of the types of conflicts (personal and financial) that reviewers may encounter are given below, although it is not an extensive list:

  • Financial interest in the outcome of the research (past, present or future), which could be in the form of employment, research funding, stocks and shares, consulting fees, etc.
  • Competing with the author to publish similar results.
  • Academic rival or a close relationship with the author.
  • Previously collaborated with any of the authors (over the past 5 years).
  • Worked at the same institute or on a research project with any of the authors.
  • Political or religious beliefs that may be validated or disputed in the manuscript.

In general reviewers should disclosure any conflicts that might be embarrassing if it were to become publicly known. See the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) policy statement on conflicts of interest for more information of the different types of conflicts.

Submitting a reviewer report

All reviewer reports must be submitted through the online submission system

If you agree to review a manuscript, the paper is placed in your reviewer centre in the online submission system and you will receive an e-mail alert.

You can access your reviewer centre by logging into the submission site and clicking on the reviewer centre link (if you have problems logging in, click here for additional information). The reviewer centre lists any manuscripts you are still to review and past manuscripts that you have reviewed.

An alternative (and recommended) method to access the review report is to use the link provided in the e-mail sent to you on acceptance to review. The report contains links to access the PDF and HTML of the full article and any supplementary files.

If you get partially through your review and are unable to finish it, you can save your report as a draft and complete it at another time by clicking ‘Save as Draft’ (found at the bottom of the report). When your report is complete, click ‘Submit’ to send your report to the Editor. You will receive a confirmation e-mail that your report has been received.

Once a decision has been made on a manuscript, an e-mail is sent to the reviewer informing them of the decision. This e-mail also contains a copy of the reports submitted on the manuscript. A copy of the decision letter can also be found in your reviewer centre.

Reviewers are expected to review any revisions of a manuscript submitted. Reviewers have the option to decline to review but the Editor may still ask you to review a revised version of the paper.

Rheumatology apologises that it can no longer send hard copies of manuscripts to reviewers.

Please note that the Journal reserves the right to edit reviewer reports to remove/amend any information/language they deem inappropriate.