Review of a scholarly article is a fundamental step that aids Editor while making a decision about article’s publication. It also guides author(s) to improve their manuscript through editorial communications. Scholars accepting to review a research paper have an ethical responsibility to complete this assignment professionally. The quality, credibility and reputation of a journal also depend on the peer review process. The peer review process depends on the trust, and demands that a reviewer is supposed to fulfill ethically. Anyhow, some reviewers may be unaware of their ethical obligations. For the sake of this awareness some essential guidelines are listed below as advised be The Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan:
2. Suitability and Promptness
The Reviewers should:
- If a reviewer do not have the subject expertise required to carry out the review, he should inform the Editor immediately after receiving a request.
- Be responsible to act promptly and submit review report on time.
- Immediately inform the Editor of any possible delays and suggest another date of submission for a review report.
- Not unnecessarily delay the review process, either by prolonged delay in submission of their review or by requesting unnecessary additional data/information from the Editor or author(s).
3. Standards of Objectivity
- A reviewer should not use unpublished material disclosed in a submitted manuscript for the purpose of his/her own research.
- A reviewer must declare any potentially conflicting interests (e.g. personal, financial, intellectual, professional, political or religious). In such situation, s/he will be required to follow the journal’s policies.
- A reviewer should be honest enough to declare conflicts of interest, if, the research paper under review is the same as to his/her presently conducted study.
- A reviewer should ensure that his decision is purely based on the quality of the research paper and not influenced, either positively or negatively, by any personal, financial, or other conflicting considerations or by intellectual bias.
- A reviewer should avoid any unsupported assertion about submitted article.
- A reviewer may justifiably criticize a manuscript but don’t criticize the author(s).
- The data included in the research paper is confidential and the reviewer shall not be allowed to use if for his/her personal study.
- If the reviewer feels unqualified to separate his/her bias, s/he should immediately return the manuscript to the Editor without review, and justify to him/her about the situation.
- Reviewers should consider the research paper as a confidential document and must not discuss its content on any platform except in cases where professional advice is being sought with the authorization of the Editor.
- Reviewers are professionally and ethically bound not to disclose the details of any research paper prior to its publication without the prior approval of the Editor.
5. Ethical Considerations
- If the reviewer suspects that the research paper is almost the same as someone else’s work, s/he will ethically inform the Editor and provide its citation as a reference.
- If the reviewer suspects that results in the research paper to be untrue/unrealistic/fake, s/he will share it with the Editor,
- If there has been an indication of violating ethical norms in the treatment of human beings (e.g. children, female, poor people, disabled, elderly, etc), then this should be identified to the Editor, and
- If the research paper is based on any previous research study or is replica of an earlier work, or the work is plagiarized for e.g. the author has not acknowledged/referenced others’ work appropriately, then this should be brought in the Editor’s knowledge.
For evaluating originality, the reviewers should consider the following elements:
- Does the research paper add to existing knowledge?
- Are the research questions and/or hypotheses in line with the objective of the research work?
- Whether the data presented in the paper is original or reproduced from previously conducted or published work. The papers which reflect originality should be given preference for publication.
- Read the guidelines for authors and point out weather author(s) follows the guidelines for preparation and submission of the manuscript? Also point out weather the research paper is free from typographical errors?
- If the layout and format of the paper is not according to the prescribed version, the reviewers should discuss it with the Editor or should include this observation in their review report. On the other hand, if the research paper is exceptionally well written, the reviewer may overlook the formatting issues. At other times, the reviewers may suggest restructuring the paper before publication. The following elements should be carefully evaluated:
- If there is serious problem of language or expression and the reviewer gets the impression that the research paper does not fulfill linguistic requirements and readers would face difficulties reading and comprehending the paper. The reviewer should record this deficiency in his/her report and suggest the editor to make its proper editing. Such a situation may arise when the author(s)’ native language is not English.
- The clarity of illustrations including photographs, models, charts, images and figures is essential to note. If there is duplication then it should be reported in the review report. Similarly, descriptions provided in the “Results” section should correspond with the data presented in tables/figures, if not then it should be clearly listed in the review report.
- Review the statistical analysis of the data critically. Also check the rational and appropriateness of the specific analysis.
- The relationship between “Data, Findings and Discussion” requires a thorough evaluation thoroughly. Unnecessary conjecture or unfounded conclusions that are not based on the presented data are not acceptable.
- Make sure that the author(s) has demonstrated the understanding of the procedures being used and presented in the manuscript.
8. Review Report
For writing a review report, the reviewers are requested to complete a prescribed form. Quarterly Noor-e-Marfat has designed a specific Evaluation Form. The reviewer must fill it quite professionally. Write his/her observations explicitly in the section of ‘comments’ because author(s) will only have access to the comments reviewers have made.
Click given link to download our Evaluation Form.