These guidelines are extracted from the Research integrity corner article published in Biochemia Medica:
Šupak-Smolčić V, Šimundić AM. Peer-review policy and guidelines for Biochemia Medica journal. Biochem Med 2014;24:321-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.11613/BM.2014.034
Biochemia Medica uses double-blind peer review which means that both reviewer and author remain unknown to each other. Therefore, as stated in the Instructions to Authors, the manuscript file should not contain the names or affiliations of the authors. Likewise, the review is sent back to the authors without any information about the reviewers.
Biochemia Medica requires at least two peer reviews before making a decision about a submitted manuscript. More reviewers are sometimes needed, such as when the subject matter or statistical analysis requires additional expertise. Every reviewer is required to update the journal’s database with information about competencies and areas of expertise. Assistant Editors draw from this database to select reviewers likely to give high-quality review.
Every invitation sent to the reviewer includes a brief explanation of his responsibilities. When responding to the invitation, each reviewer is asked to report any conflict of interest by emailing a short statement to the editorial office. The invitation also contains a link to a Reviewer’s check list to help ensure accurate and comprehensive review. This checklist is intended only to provide guidance; reviewers are not obliged to answer all questions, especially if they feel they lack the necessary competence.
Since Biochemia Medica aims to educate authors and improve manuscript quality, reviewers are encouraged to write detailed reviews with thorough explanations whenever possible.
When receiving an invitation from Biochemia Medica, the reviewer is supposed to:
- Read the manuscript abstract included in the invitation in order to evaluate whether the reviewer has the necessary expertise in the subject area involved. The reviewer should accept or reject the invitation as soon as possible. If for any reason, during the review process, the reviewer feels he has insufficient expertise to handle the manuscript, the reviewer should inform the editor promptly.
- Respect the deadline for responding to the invitation as well as the deadline for submitting the review. Failing to respect these deadlines is considered a lack of professional courtesy. Reviewers should contact the editors promptly if they require an extension.
- Declare any possible conflict of interest to the editor. If potential conflicts of interest appear during the review process they should be reported accordingly.
- Keep all materials provided by the journal strictly confidential. The editor must approve any sharing of the material with a third person. All persons involved in conducting the review should be properly identified.
When writing a review, the reviewer is supposed to:
- Read the Journal’s scope and Instructions to Authors in order to write the review with journal objectives and format guidelines in mind.
- Consult the journal’s Guidelines for Reviewers
- Evaluate the manuscript objectively and impartially. Perfect blinding of the manuscript is not always possible; sometimes personal information about the author or the author’s institution can be surmised from the manuscript content.
- Notify the editor about any doubt in the integrity of the manuscript content or conduct of the study. The reviewer should never investigate potential misconduct by himself.
- State the overall recommendations for the manuscript: accept, accept after minor modifications, accept after major modifications, reject.
- Provide additional comments according to the Journal’s checklist (Table 2). The checklist is aimed to prevent the omission of important issues and to help reviewers structure their reports. The checklist is only for guidance; reviewers are not obliged to answer all the questions, especially if they do not feel competent to do so.
- Summarize all the positive findings of the manuscript that could provide value to the journal.
- Write every criticism or comment in clear, concise and polite language. State the exact sentence in question by citing page number, text line or paragraph. For example: “Page 4, line 14: instead of ’preanalytical warnings’ the author could consider using the phrase ‘preanalytical recommendations’.”
- Follow up all criticisms with explanation and advice for correction. If appropriate, comments should be supported with evidence from the literature. For example, instead of merely stating “The statistical test used in the text is wrong.” consider giving an explanation with advice for further reading: ”Correlation is not tested using the appropriate statistical test. The statistical test for correlation depends on sample size and normality of data distribution. For large samples and normally distributed data, the Pearson correlation test should be used. In the case of a small sample or deviation from normal data distribution, consider using the Spearman correlation test.”
- Never address the author personally, make any improper comments or use aggressive terms. Moreover, it is highly inappropriate to use capital letters, exclamation marks or direct verbal insults. For example, instead of “THIS STATEMENT MAKES NO SENSE!!!”, it is much better to write, “The authors may consider rephrasing the sentence...”
- Strive to make the review educational so the author can learn from his mistakes and improve the manuscript as much as possible. Instead of criticizing the Discussion section of the manuscript, try to explain the proper way for discussing the results, such as: “To improve the Discussion I suggest that authors start with their key findings, discuss their results in comparison with existing data in the literature, and explain how their results fit into what’s already known. I also strongly suggest that authors emphasize the added value of their results and the novelty of the study...”
- Inform the editor about all limitations of the review in the section “Confidential comments to the editor”, such as if the reviewer does not feel confident enough to review the statistical analyses.
After submitting the review, the reviewer is supposed to:
- Destroy all copies of the reviewed manuscript in order to maintain confidentiality.
- Refrain from using any information acquired during the review process until after the article has been published.
- Read the reviews of other reviewers and contact the editor if additional comments are necessary.