Understanding the peer review system

Guideline for the online seminar on Peer review for Yobe State University:

Introduction to peer review
Types of peer review
  • Single-Blind review
  • Double-blind review
  • Open review
Types of responses one may expect
How long does it take to receive a review of a paper?
  • Patience! Good reviews take time
  • 3/4 months is reasonable, although it varies greatly by field.
  • Never send your manuscript to more than one journal at once.
  • Whenever you feel that there are big delays you can always contact the editor. Be very polite.
  • If the delay is unacceptable you can always withdraw your submission and then send it to another journal.

Responding to reviewers’ comments

Politeness and its limits

Things reviewers look at

Formal issues:

  • Manuscript within the journal’s scope – Example journal scope Another example
  • Clear structure
  • A comprehensive message: Good writing-style
  • Your paper has to have a story
  • Literature review up to date and up to the point

Content-related issues:

  • Novelty and complexity
  • Clear methodology
  • Reproducibility
  • Adequate methods
  • Good interpretation of findings
Sending the manuscript to the wrong journal
  • You can submit case studies to international journals, but they have to be well-framed. An exampleanoter example and another one.
  • In some cases, local cases my be very important. For instance here.

Other questions

Should I cite articles from my target journal?
  • It is logical to expect that related papers to your topic have been published in the journal to which you are submitting your paper.
  • In no case citing papers from the target journal should be made mandatory by editors or reviewers. This is a malpractice.
  • Reviewers may suggest papers to cite, as long as it is reasonable to do so, it is fine to include them. Some of these papers may be his/hers, you should not be obliged to cite them.
The journal asks me to recommend reviewers. Who should I recommend?
  • Good practices pay off in the long run. Recommended reviewers should not be directly related with you. That is a conflict of interests.
  • They should be experts in the field.
  • Choose and recommend world-leading experts, their reviews may be harsher but it sends a message of rigour and honesty to the editor.
  • Editors are no fool! And if they are, maybe that is not the right journal.
  • Recommending does not mean they will be contacted. But it helps editors to find similar experts.
Paper notes

If reporting p-values is wrong, what is the alternative?

A recent comment in Nature calls for ending with the uncritical reporting of p-values as the main criterion to determine the acceptance or rejection of a hypothesis. They claim that p-value reporting fosters a dichotomous way of thinking which leads to misinterpretation of results. That means, that having a significant result, does not mean there is an actual ‘difference’, nor a lack of significance means one should discard a potential difference. Read more “If reporting p-values is wrong, what is the alternative?”