Guidelines for Reviewers
Peer review methodology
The VTGU journals use external experts to help evaluate articles and assist the editors to make a decision.
When articles are submitted they will be checked and any that appear out of scope of the journal, or otherwise unsuitable for consideration, will be rejected immediately.
All other original research articles will be sent out for review. Reviewers are selected based on their experience of the subject matter of the article. They may be selected from the Editorial Board of the journal as well as from elsewhere. The journal editorial offices and editors will identify suitable experts and invite them to review. Some journals welcome suggestions from authors, but reserve the right to select their own reviewers. Equally, if authors have a good reason to request that a particular person should be excluded from review (e.g. because they are working in a competing laboratory), then they may say this when they submit the article. However, the editors' judgement of reviewer is final.
The journals operate a double-blind method of peer review. This means that the authors' names are not disclosed to the reviewer and the reviewer names are not disclosed to the authors.
Invitations are sent to reviewers and the articles are only sent to them when they agree to review. The reviewing operation is managed through the submission system. Reviewers are given between 2-3 weeks to return their review (some journals set their own time limit), and reminders are sent. However the journal cannot guarantee a time to decision since reviewers may be late, or there may be problems in finding the right reviewer. In all cases the journal editorial office will endeavour to manage the process as speedily as possible.
When the editors have received at least 2 reviews they will make a decision.
Ethical peer review – guideline for reviewers
VTGU complies with the Committee on Publication Ethics Guidelines for Peer Reviewers which provides a comprehensive guide to the ethics of peer review.
In particular, reviewers are asked to take note of the following:
Conflict of interest (or competing interests)
If the reviewer considers that there is any conflict of interest that may make compromise their review they are required to make this known to the editorial office, and may be excused from performing the review. The reviewer may not be aware of this until they have accepted the invitation to review. "Competing interests may be personal, financial, intellectual, professional, political or religious in nature. If you are currently employed at the same institution as any of the authors or have been recent (e.g., within the past 3 years) mentors, mentees, close collaborators or joint grant holders, you should not agree to review. In addition, you should not agree to review a manuscript just to gain sight of it with no intention of submitting a review, or agree to review a manuscript that is very similar to one you have in preparation or under consideration at another journal." (from the COPE Guidelines)
Reviewers are required to respect the confidentiality of the peer review process and "refrain from using information obtained during the peer review process for your own or another’s advantage, or to disadvantage or discredit others. Do not involve anyone else in the review of a manuscript (including early career researchers you are mentoring), without first obtaining permission from the journal. The names of any individuals who have helped with the review should be included so that they are associated with the manuscript in the journal’s records and can also receive due recognition for their efforts." (from the COPE Guidelines)
Reviewers are asked to return their reviews by the requested date, and to inform the editorial office if there is likely to be a delay.
What reviewers are asked to do
Reviewers are asked to evaluate the articles for the following:
- Is there a clear objective for the article (e.g. a clear research question)?
- Does the author make suitable reference to other work in the same area of research?
- Is the methodology suitable to support the research?
- Is the reporting of findings clear and complete (so far as can be determined)?
- Do the tables and figures support the text?
- Do the discussion and conclusions accurately reflect on the findings?
- Is the title suitable for the article?
- Is there any suspicion of ethics violation?
Reviewers are asked to always be polite and constructive in their report, and never to be abusive or to make unjustified criticisms of the work.