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Information for Reviewers

The peer review process

All journals published by the Microbiology Society use the online submission system Editorial Manager. This guide explains the processes involved in reviewing articles through Editorial Manager, but if you have any issues with your review, please contact the relevant journal’s Editorial Office.

Invitation to review

Editors will send out review requests to potential reviewers by email via the Editorial Manager submission system. This article review request email will contain the title and abstract of the article for which a review is needed, along with the abstract of the article. Based on this information we ask you to either accept or decline the invitation to review the article by clicking on the links within the email, ideally within seven days of receiving the invitation to review.

Accepting an invitation to review

Our usual practice is to ask for your report within two weeks (10 working days) of you accepting the invitation to review. If you are willing to review the article but will require a little more time, please accept the invitation and then contact the Editorial Office to agree an extended deadline.

Automatic reminder emails are sent by the submission system a few days before reviews are due. So that we don’t send you unnecessary reminders, please let us know if you will require a little more time.

When you agree to handle an article, we anticipate that you will also help to assess revisions of the article. The Editors will only send a revised article back to you where the changes you required were substantial, and the authors have clearly made a reasonable attempt to address your comments.

Declining an invitation to review

You can personalise your response if you choose to decline the invitation to review. The Editors find it very helpful when reviewers suggest alternative people who might be able to assist in the peer review process; please suggest alternative reviewers whenever possible.

Accessing the article for review

If you accept an invitation to review you will get a second message confirming your access to the article. All you need to do is click the relevant link in the email and log in using your username and password, and you will gain direct access to the article.

If you do not have an account when the Editor is inviting you to review, he or she will create an account on your behalf and you will be asked to complete the minimal registration details the first time you try to access the system.

Preparing your review

As well as any journal-specific guidance provided by email, we ask reviewers to comment on the following aspects of an article:

  • Design and methodology
    • Are the research objectives clearly stated and were they met?
    • Is there an adequate review of the published literature?
    • Are the methods described in enough detail to permit someone to reproduce the experiments?
    • Are the methods appropriate to the research? That is, do they address the problem, and do they include relevant controls?
    • Have the authors used appropriate statistical tools to address the findings?
    • Have the authors followed relevant ethical guidelines?
  • Results and conclusions
    • How significant are the findings described in the article, and do they represent an advance in knowledge and understanding?
    • Have the results been interpreted properly?
    • Are the conclusions based on sound data, with reasonable reference to the published literature?
  • General
    • Is the article well written and of an appropriate length?
    • Is the number of tables and figures appropriate, or should some of the data be published as supplementary material?
    • Is the supplementary material relevant to the article?

How to submit your review

When you are ready to submit your report, find the article in your Reviewer area in Editorial Manager.

The Reviewer Report is in three parts:

  • Confidential comments for the Editor can either be entered into the box provided or uploaded as a word processor or PDF file. Please give your reasons for your recommendation (accept, reject or revise) in this area.
  • Comments for the Author can either be entered into the box provided or uploaded as a word processor or PDF file. If you submit your review as a file, please maintain your anonymity by removing your name from the file properties. To check the properties of a document, please click ‘File’ and then ‘Properties’.
  • The Review information form is a rating form in which you will be asked about:
    • Your opinion of the article including your recommendation (accept, minor revision, major revision, reject).
    • The appropriateness of the article for the journal, the scientific content, originality and standard of presentation.
    • Whether you have any suggestions for shortening the article.

The review can be saved and then edited later if required.

Submit the review once it is completed using the Submit button at the bottom of the review page. You will receive a confirmation email of safe receipt and the Editor of the article will be informed that you have submitted your review.

Editor decision

Once the required number of reviews has been submitted for an article, the Editor will make a decision. The Editor’s decision will be based on their own judgement and all the reviewers’ opinions of the article. For this reason, their decision may differ from the one that you recommended.

You will be notified that a decision has been made via an email, and the information can also be accessed through your Reviewer Area in the ‘Completed Assignments’ queue. If you have any comments about the decision, please contact the Editorial Office.

The Editor may occasionally edit or block access to a Reviewer Report to remove inappropriate comments or to remove information that could reveal a reviewer’s identity. Reviewers are encouraged to express frank and honest opinions about articles but should avoid making statements that could cause offence, are derogatory or potentially libellous.

Certificate of Review

You will receive an email confirmation for every review you complete, but if you require a formal Certificate of Review, for example as part of a tenure application, please contact the relevant journal’s Editorial Office.

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Review ethics

Conflicts of interest

The purpose of peer review is to provide impartial and objective assessments of articles. It is essential that you notify the Editor of any personal, professional or financial conflicts of interest that could affect the handling of an article. The Reviewer Report contains a query regarding conflicts of interest and if you select ‘Yes’ you will be asked to provide further details.

The following types of conflict should be declared, but do not prevent you from returning a report:

  • You have a research or clinical position funded by companies that sell drugs or devices which are discussed in the article, or which compete with those discussed in the article, or another financial involvement with those companies.
  • Your sources of research funding could have aims that could conflict with the article’s findings.
  • You have a pending grant or patent application which could conflict with the article’s findings.

The following types of conflict may prevent you from returning a report, but should be discussed with the Editor:

  • You hold a very strong belief in a theory or idea, and may not be impartial in reviewing articles that present a position that is contrary to your beliefs.
  • You are in direct competition with the authors in the same field of research.
  • You have been asked to review work by members of your family or friends, or by colleagues with whom you have worked in the last two years.

Confidentiality

Articles and their contents must be regarded as confidential, and as such we request all reviewers to follow the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers.

Our journals currently run single-blind peer review, whereby reviewer identities are not revealed to the authors of articles, but the reviewers may see the authors’ identities as part of the review process.

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