Peer review 101, Part 3: Submitting the peer review

This post is part of an online article I wrote for Publons. Publons is an online management system where you can keep track of your peer reviews, and compare your records to others. I wrote the article as a helpful guide for beginning peer reviewers. The article consists of four parts:

  1. How to critically read a manuscript
  2. Writing the peer review
  3. Submitting the peer review
  4. Managing peer review requests

3. Submitting the peer review

Once you have written your review, you will have to upload it into the journal’s reviewer interface. Most of them will have a box where you can assign the paper to one of 4 categories: accept without edits (only to be selected if you reviewed The Perfect Paper!), accept with minor edits (addressing typos, unclear sentences, or a small figure edit), accept with major edits (addressing bigger issues such as changes to introduction scope, interpretation of results, additional graphs or analyses) or reject (if the manuscript was not novel at all, not suitable for the scope of that journal, or contains plagiarism or other questionable practices). Most of the papers I have reviewed were classified as “accept with major edits”; I have selected the “reject” category less often. On the journal’s website, there is usually also a box where you can give specific comments to the editor; these will not be forwarded to the authors. Here you can state your personal opinion, or any issues you do not want to share with the authors. Your peer review will go into the section labeled “comments to the authors” – often by simply copy/pasting it into the appropriate box. Even if I think a paper should be rejected, I like to share my thoughts about the manuscript here, so that the authors can improve their paper before submitting it somewhere else.

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