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The primary purpose of peer review is providing the Editor with the information needed to reach a fair, evidence-based decision that adheres to the journal’s editorial criteria. Review reports should also help authors revise their paper such that it may be accepted for publication. Reports accompanied by a recommendation to reject the paper should explain the major weaknesses of the research; this will help the authors prepare their manuscript for submission to a different journal.
Peer reviewers should adhere to the principles of COPE's Ethical Guidelines for Peer-reviewers.
Confidential comments to the Editor are welcome, but they must not contradict the main points in the report for the authors.
Peer reviewers should assess papers exclusively against the journal’s criteria for publication.
Concerns relating to these points, or any aspect of the review process, should be raised with the editorial team.
We ask reviewers the following types of questions, to provide an assessment of the various aspects of a manuscript:
Before you submit your report, please take a moment to read it through and put yourself in the place of the authors. How would you feel if you received this report? Would the tone offend you? Is it courteous and professional? Are there unnecessary personal remarks or antagonistic comments about the authors or their competitors? Please note that the Editor reserves the right to remove any inappropriate language from your report.
Reports do not necessarily need to follow this specific order but should document the peer reviewer’s thought process. Some journals have a set of questions that reviewers will need to specifically address. All statements should be justified and argued in detail, naming facts and citing supporting references, commenting on all aspects that are relevant to the manuscript and that the reviewers feel qualified commenting on. Not all of the above aspects will necessarily apply to every paper, due to discipline-specific standards. When in doubt about discipline-specific peer-reviewing standards, reviewers can contact the Editor for guidance.
It is our policy to remain neutral with respect to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations, and the naming conventions used in maps and affiliation are left to the discretion of authors. Peer reviewers should not, therefore, request authors to make any changes to such unless it is critical to the clarity of the academic content of a manuscript.
Springer journals are committed to rapid editorial decisions and publication, and we believe that an efficient editorial process is a valuable service both to our authors and to the research community as a whole. We therefore ask reviewers to respond promptly within the number of days agreed. If reviewers anticipate a delay, we ask them to let us know so that we can keep the authors informed and, where necessary, find alternatives.
A peer reviewer’s report should provide members of the Editorial Board with the information needed to reach a decision, and should instruct authors on how they can strengthen their paper to the point where it may be acceptable for publication.
Reviewers should feel free to request additional data sets or information when needed to support the data. Reviewers, however, should avoid asking for extensive follow-up experimentation, or confirmation of specific hypotheses or interpretations, which would fall outside the scope of a data note manuscript. Indeed, reviewers should ask authors to remove in-depth analyses or new scientific conclusions from submitted data notes
Evaluation of a data note should not be based on the perceived impact or novelty of the findings associated with the datasets. The peer-review process should remain focused on data quality and reusability, not specific interpretations.
When preparing a report, we ask reviewers to consider and comment on the following questions:
Experimental rigour and technical data quality
Completeness of the description
Integrity of the data files and repository record
This guide for reviewers contains information on the peer-review process for Registered Reports. If you have been invited to review for a Discover journal and have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the journal’s Editorial Team.
The review process for Registered Reports is divided into two stages. At stage 1, reviewers are asked to assess study proposals before data are collected. At stage 2, reviewers consider the full study, including results and interpretation.
Stage 1: Initial manuscript submission and review
Stage 1 manuscripts will include only an Introduction, Methods (including proposed analyses), and Pilot Data (where applicable). In considering papers at stage 1, we ask reviewers to assess:
Following stage 1 peer review, manuscripts will be accepted, offered the opportunity to revise, or rejected outright. Manuscripts that pass peer review will be issued an in principle acceptance (IPA), indicating that the article will be published pending successful completion of the study according to the pre-registered methods and analytic procedures, as well as a defensible and evidence-based interpretation of the results. Authors will be asked to complete their study within 12 months of IPA.
Stage 2: Full manuscript submission and review
Following completion of the study, authors will complete the manuscript, including Results and discussion sections. These stage 2 manuscripts will more closely resemble a regular article format. The manuscript will then be returned to the reviewers, who will be asked to appraise:
Reviewers at stage 2 may suggest that authors report additional post hoc tests on their data; however authors are not obliged to do so unless such tests are necessary to satisfy one or more of the stage 2 review criteria. Please note that editorial decisions will not be based on the perceived importance, novelty, or conclusiveness of the results.
If you review for a journal in the Discover Series then you are entitled to a 15% discount on the article processing charge for your next submission to a Discover Journal. This discount must be claimed within 1 year of completing your review and discounts cannot be combined.