Reviewing a manuscript written by a fellow scientist is a privilege. It is also an exciting and enjoyable educational experience. However, it is also a time-consuming responsibility. We hope that these Guidelines will help make your job easier.
General Policies and Procedures
Authors submit their manuscripts electronically via the online manuscript submission system at Submit Manuscript. Each manuscript is reviewed by Modern Medical Laboratory editorial staff for relevancy to the individual journal. Should a question arise, the editorial staff will contact the editor in chief (or an appropriate editor), who then decides whether the manuscript should be transferred to another Science Alert journal, editorially rejected owing to scope, or retained for review by the journal to which it was submitted. If retained, the manuscript is assigned to Internal Reviewers to check the format of the submitted manuscript and to provide internal comments about the suitability of the manuscript for further processing within 7 working days.
On receipt of the invitation to review, you should immediately:
- Log on to the Science Alert system and go to the Reviewer’s home page straightly.
- Read the article abstract, to determine whether the subject is within your area of expertise and whether you can complete the review in the stated time period.
- Accept the article for review if the subject is within your area of expertise and you can spare your valuable time to review the article.
If you decline the invitation to review:
- Indicate why you are declining.
- If possible, please suggest a colleague who may be able to review the manuscript. If appropriate, the editor will send an invitation to review to that individual. You may not “transfer” your invitation to review the manuscript to a colleague.
If you accept the invitation to review, you will have access to the complete MSWord file of the manuscript and should immediately:
- Click on Accept for Review button and download the full-text file for possible evaluation.
- Quickly skim the relevant portions of the manuscript and verify that it fits within the scope of the journal.
- Inform to the editorial office if you found any missing part of the manuscript which encountered you for evaluation.
If you have either a time problem or a conflict of interest, contact the editorial staff via e-mail for instructions. He may extend your deadline or cancel the review assignment as appropriate. If your cursory examination reveals that the manuscript does not fit within the scope of the journal, indicate that in the Confidential Comments for Editors only of the review form.
Do not discuss the paper with its authors either during or after the review process.
Although it may seem natural and reasonable to discuss points of difficulty or disagreement directly with an author, especially if you are generally in favor of publication and do not mind revealing your identity, this practice is prohibited because the other reviewer and the editor may have different opinions, and the author may be misled by having "cleared things up" with the reviewer who contacted him/her directly.
The manuscript provided to you for review is a privileged document. Please protect it from any form of exploitation. Do not cite a manuscript or refer to the work it describes before it has been published and do not use the information that it contains for the advancement of your own research or in discussions with colleagues.
In your comments intended for the author, do not make statements about the acceptability of a paper (see the next paragraph); suggested revisions should be stated as such and not expressed as conditions of acceptance. Organize your review so that an introductory paragraph summarizes the major findings of the article, gives your overall impression of the paper, and highlights the major shortcomings. This paragraph should be followed by specific, numbered comments, which, if appropriate, may be subdivided into major and minor points. (The numbering facilitates both the editor's letter to the author and evaluation of the author's rebuttal.) Criticism should be presented dispassionately; offensive remarks are not acceptable.
Confidential remarks directed to the editor should be entered in the box so labeled. Advise the editor of your recommendation for acceptance, modification, or rejection by clicking the appropriate button. The final decision regarding modification, acceptance, or rejection of a manuscript rests solely with the editor, so do not state your recommendation in the portion of the review that will be sent to the author.
After completing your review, take the following steps to submit your evaluation report to the editorial office. There is no need to make a copy of your review because it will be saved in your Reviewing History.
Adopt a positive, impartial, but critical attitude toward the manuscript under review, with the aim of promoting effective, accurate, and relevant scientific communication.
Please consider the following aspects when reviewing a manuscript:
- Significance to the target scientific community
- Appropriateness of the approach or experimental design (if applicable)
- Appropriateness of the statistical analyses
- Appropriate literature citations
- Adequacy of experimental techniques (if applicable)
- The soundness of conclusions and interpretation
- Relevance of discussion
- Adequacy of title and abstract
- Appropriateness of figures and tables
- Appropriateness of supplemental material intended for posting (if applicable)
- Are results relevant to the problem posed? Credible? Well presented?
- References up to date and relevant? Any glaring omissions?
- The relevance of the figures and table, clarity of legends, and titles.
- Overall presentation (including writing style, clarity of writing)
You are not required to correct deficiencies of style, syntax, or grammar, but any help you can give in clarifying meaning will be appreciated. In particular, point out the use of scientific jargon, misspellings of chemical names, use of outmoded terminology or incorrect genetic nomenclature, and use of misspelled, incorrect, or outdated scientific names of organisms.
Your criticisms, arguments, and suggestions concerning the paper will be most useful to the editor and to the author if they are carefully documented. Do not make dogmatic, dismissive statements, particularly about the novelty of the work. Substantiate your statements. Reviewer's recommendations are gratefully received by the editor; however, since editorial decisions are usually based on evaluations derived from several sources, reviewers should not expect the editor to honor every recommendation. You will be asked to suggest acceptability as noted on the specific review form (e.g., accept; accept with revision; reject; modify, convert to Note)
- Very few papers qualify for immediate, unconditional acceptance.
- There are many reasons to reject a paper. In general, if there are serious flaws in experimental design, incorrect interpretation of data, extensive additional experiments required, or any organizational or English usage flaws that prevent critical review of the manuscript, then recommend that the manuscript be rejected.
- If you feel that the deficiencies can be corrected within a reasonable period of time, then recommend modification (e.g., modification; convert to Note; accept with revision; or modify, if the revisions are extensive enough to warrant a second review).
Modern Medical Laboratory Publication Policies; Ethics
Although the staff at the editorial office may be able to note a breach of publication policy or ethical conduct after publication, we rely heavily on the reviewers to detect such problems before publication. Highlights of Modern Medical Laboratory publication policies are described here for easy reference.
Some of the items for which you should be alert include:
- Plagiarism – Plagiarism is not limited to the Results and Discussion sections; it can involve any part of the manuscript, including figures and tables, in which material is copied from another publication without attestation, reference, or permission. Note that wording does not have to be exact to be copyright infringement; the use of very similar words in almost the same sequence can also be an infringement. Data themselves are not copyrightable, but their presentation is.
- Missing or incomplete attestation - Authors must give appropriate credit to ideas, concepts, and data that have been published previously. This is accomplished by the inclusion of references. Missing, incomplete, or incorrect references must be brought to the editor's attention.
- Dual submission and/or publication - Be wary of attempts to submit/publish similar material more than once. This is often difficult to detect "before the fact," but checking literature citations, as well as having a critical eye, is helpful.
- Conflicts of interest - If you are aware of any commercial affiliations, consultancies, stock or equity interests, or patent-licensing arrangements on the part of the authors, bring them to the attention of the editor.
Note that similar conflicts of interest on your part must also be brought to the attention of the editor, who may, at his discretion, subsequently cancel your invitation to review the manuscript. If one of the manuscript authors is at your institution, there could be a perceived conflict of interest, and you should immediately contact the editor so that another individual can be invited to review the manuscript in your place.
In summary, you must communicate suspicions of policy or ethics problems directly to the editor, who in turn will contact the editor in chief. Under no circumstances, you should contact the author directly. Modern Medical Laboratory Journal has policies for investigation and resolution of such problems and these must be followed.
These guidelines are based on the guidelines provided by the Council of Science Editors