Peer Review Policies

COPE has developed Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers, to which CAJWR editors and the editorial board refer for guidance.

Further guidance on the ethics of peer review is available from many sources. For example, Rockwell presents guidance for reviewers and EuCheMS provides guidelines for journals. Hames’s book “Peer Review and Manuscript Management in Scientific Journals: Guidelines for Good Practice” presents useful recommendations and checklists.

All peer reviewers must follow these ethical guidelines for CAJWR articles in review:

  • Reviewers must give unbiased consideration to each manuscript submitted. They should judge each on its merits, without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the author(s).
  • Reviewers must declare any conflict of interest before agreeing to review a manuscript. This includes any relationship with the author that may bias their review.
  • Reviewers must keep the peer review process confidential. They must not share information or correspondence about a manuscript with anyone outside of the peer review process.
  • Reviewers should provide a constructive, comprehensive, evidenced, and appropriately substantial peer review report.
  • Reviewers must avoid making statements in their report which might be construed as impugning any person’s reputation.
  • Reviewers should make all reasonable effort to submit their report and recommendation on time. They should inform the editor if this is not possible.
  • Reviewers should call to the journal editor’s attention any significant similarity between the manuscript under consideration and any published paper or submitted manuscripts of which they are aware.

To create an efficient, effective peer-review process, editors should:

  • Establish and maintain a secure database of suitably qualified peer reviewers that is compliant with data protection legislation.
  • Monitor the performance of peer reviewers for quality and timeliness. Peer reviewers who repeatedly produce poor quality, tardy, abusive, or unconstructive reviews should not be used again.
  • Carefully consider whether it is appropriate for authors to have the option to nominate peer reviewers or to request that particular individuals do not peer review their paper. Editors should remind authors that they should avoid nominating peer reviewers who have a conflict of interest. Editors are under no obligation to accept the authors’ nominations and it is advisable to ensure at least one peer reviewer not suggested by the authors reviews the paper. Editors should check the qualifications of all reviewers before issuing and invitation to review. It is especially important to verify the qualifications of potential reviewers who have been recommended by authors. Editors should use institutional email addresses when inviting reviewers and should request an ORCID (an online digital identifier that distinguishes researchers from one another) from reviewers whenever possible, and avoid using reviewers whose backgrounds and institutional affiliations cannot be determined by a simple web search.
  • Aim to ensure timely peer review and publication and should avoid unnecessary delays and consider how best to share information with authors about any delays that occur. Online publication can provide the fastest route to publication and, therefore, to placing peer reviewed research (and other) information in the public domain.
  • Give peer reviewers explicit guidance on their role and responsibilities.

Peer reviewers can play an important role in identifying potential questionable research practices such as possible data fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, redundant or duplicate publication, image manipulation, unethical research, biased reporting, authorship abuse, and undeclared conflicts of interest.

Editors should remind peer reviewers of this role, and of their requirement to:

  • Respect the confidentiality of peer review, and not discuss the manuscript or contact the authors or any other people about the manuscript.
  • Declare any conflicts of interest.
  • Provide an objective and constructive explanation for their recommendation.
  • Not allow their decision on a manuscript to be influenced by its origin or authorship.
  • Avoid requesting that the author cites the peer reviewer’s own papers, unless there is a strong scholarly rationale for this.
  • Not reproduce information or any part of the manuscript under review in any of their own work prior to publication by the authors.
  • Only agree to peer review manuscripts within their expertise and within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Not delay publication.
  • Not use insulting, hostile, or defamatory language.
  • Destroy submitted manuscripts and all related material after they have reviewed them.

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