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Information for Reviewers

Contents

1. Acknowledgement

2. Reviewing via Editorial Manager submission system

3. Conflict of Interest

4. Accessing the manuscript for review

5. Confidentiality

6. Preparing the review

7. How to submit your review

8. Editor decision

1. Acknowledgement

The Editors of all journals published by the Microbiology Society value the unbiased, invaluable critical thinking and analysis of our voluntary reviewers to ensure high-quality papers are accepted for publication.

1.1 Thank you to recent reviewers

The Editors of the Microbiology Society’s journals wish to thank all the reviewers who have given their time and expertise to review papers submitted for publication in the journals in 2015. Please see below for the lists of reviewers for four of our journals.

For 2015 reviewer lists for each journal please see below:

Microbiology reviewers

Journal of General Virology reviewers

Journal of Medical Microbiology reviewers

International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology reviewers

1.2 Proposals for reviewer recognition scheme

To further acknowledge the activity of our reviewers, the Society intends to launch a reviewer recognition scheme. We will shortly be sending out a brief survey about this, but in the meantime if you have any suggestions, please do get in touch with our Director of Publishing, Leighton Chipperfield on l.chipperfield@microbiologysociety.org

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2. Reviewing via Editorial Manager submission system

All journals published by the Microbiology Society use the online submission system Editorial Manager. The journals do not maintain a database of potential reviewers and their research interests: reviewers are instead selected by members of the Editorial Board, who base their choices for a particular paper on their knowledge of the field in question, and of scientists working in that field.

2.1 Invitation to review

Editors will send out review requests to potential reviewers by email via the Editorial Manager submission system.

The manuscript review request email will contain the title of the paper for which a review is needed along with the names of the authors and the abstract of the paper. Based on this information, reviewers are asked to either accept or decline the invitation to review the manuscript. The invitation should be accepted or declined by clicking on the links within the email. Reviewers are asked to respond within five days of receiving the invitation to review.

Our standard practice is to ask for the Reviewer Report within 2 weeks (sometimes less for short papers); however, if you are willing to review the paper but will require a little more time, please accept the invitation to review and then contact the Editor to agree an extended deadline. It is helpful if reviewers inform the handling Editor in advance if a review is likely to be delayed. Automatic reminder emails will be sent by the submission system a few days before the review is due.

2.2 Accepting the invitation to review

When a reviewer agrees to handle a paper, it is expected that they will also help to review subsequent revisions. The Editors will not send a resubmitted or revised paper back to the reviewers unless it is clear that the authors have made a reasonable attempt to address the original comments.

2.3 Declining the invitation to review

Invited reviewers who choose to decline the invitation to review are able to personalise their response to the Editor to let them know why they are unable to accept the review and/or to suggest alternative reviewers. The Editors find it very helpful when reviewers suggest alternative reviewers who might be able to assist in the peer-review process; please suggest alternative reviewers whenever possible.

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3. Conflict of Interest

The purpose of peer review is to provide impartial and objective assessments of manuscripts. It is essential that reviewers notify the Editor of any personal, professional or financial conflicts of interest that could affect the handling of a manuscript. The Reviewer Report contains a query regarding conflicts of interest and if 'Yes' is selected you will be asked to provide further details of this.

Examples of conflicts of interest include:

  • Financial: this could arise if a reviewer has a research or clinical position that is funded by companies that sell drugs or devices. Competing interests could also be associated with sources of research funding, for example, government agencies, charities or professional organisations, which could have aims that could conflict with research findings. A conflict of interest could occur if a reviewer handled a paper relating to a product or service in which they have a financial involvement. Other examples of conflicts could include pending grant or patent applications.
  • Academic: reviewers with a very strong belief in a particular theory or idea might not be impartial in reviewing papers that present a position that is contrary to their beliefs. Competing researchers in the same field may also have to declare a conflict of interest.
  • Personal: conflicts of interest can occur if reviewers are asked to review work by members of their family, friends, rivals or colleagues.
  • Company or institutional affiliations: conflicts may occur if a reviewer is affiliated with an institution or company that has an interest in a publication. An example would be a reviewer who was associated with or employed by a company that manufactured a pharmaceutical or device (or a competing one) mentioned in a publication.

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4. Accessing the manuscript for review

The paper will be available when you login to Editorial Manager as a Reviewer; click the relevant active link within the invitation agreed email to access the manuscript for review. Log in using your username and password. The manuscript and any supplementary data can be downloaded from the Reviewer area in Editorial Manager.

If you do not have an account when the Editor is inviting you to review, he/she will create an account on your behalf and you will be asked to complete the registration details upon logging in.

If you have any problems accessing the paper to review, please contact the relevant journal’s Editorial Office.

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5. Confidentiality

Manuscripts and their contents must be regarded as confidential by reviewers, and as such the Society requests all reviewers to follow the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Please read these guidelines thoroughly before accepting to provide a review.

All journals published by the Microbiology Society currently support single-blind peer review (apart from Microbial Genomics, which has a double-blind peer review system), whereby the identities of reviewers are not revealed to the authors of manuscripts, but the reviewers may see the authors’ identities.

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6. Preparing the review

As well as any journal-specific guidance provided by email, reviewers are asked to comment on the following aspects of a manuscript:

  • Scope – Does the paper fall into the scope of the journal?
  • Research objectives – Are the objectives clearly stated and have they been met?
  • Study design and methodology – Was the study design appropriate?
  • Validity of results – Are the data reliable?
  • Analysis – Have the data been analysed and interpreted correctly?
  • Originality and significance – How significant are the findings described in the paper. Do the findings represent an advance in knowledge and understanding?
  • Citation of existing research – Have the authors cited existing literature adequately and given credit to related research?
  • Presentation – Is the paper well written? Is it too long/short? Is the number of tables and figures appropriate? Should some of the data be published as supplementary material?
  • Supplementary files – Is the supplementary material directly relevant to the conclusion of an article? For supplementary material that is to be published online to accompany the manuscript, has it been uploaded in the appropriate format?
  • Conformation to the Society’s Editorial policies and Information for Authors – Have ethical guidelines been adhered to? Have relevant data (eg. sequence data) been deposited in public databases as outlined in the Information for Authors?

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7. How to submit your review

When you are ready to submit your Reviewer Report, find the paper in your Reviewer area of Editorial Manager. The review can be saved and then edited later if required. Please remember to submit the review once it is completed.

The Reviewer Report is in three parts:

  1. Comments for the Editor
  2. Comments for the Author
  3. Review information form

7.1 Comments for the Editor (confidential)

Confidential comments to the Editor can either be typed (or pasted) into the box provided or uploaded as a word processor or PDF file. Please give your reasons for your recommendation (accept, reject or revise) in this area.

7.2 Comments for the Author

Comments can either be typed (or pasted) into the box provided or uploaded as a word processor or PDF file. If you submit your review as a PDF file, please make sure that your name is not given in the properties of the PDF so that your anonymity is maintained (to check the properties of a PDF document, please click ‘File’ and then ‘Properties’).

7.3 Review information form

In the rating form, you will be asked about your opinion of the paper including your recommendation (accept, minor revision, major revision, reject) and further information about the appropriateness of the paper for the journal, the scientific content, originality and standard of presentation. You will also be asked if you have any suggestions for shortening the paper.

7.4 Submitting the review

Please remember to submit the review once it is completed using the Submit button at the bottom of the review page. You will receive a confirmation email of safe receipt and the Editor of the paper will then be informed that you have submitted your review.

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8. Editor decision

Once the required number of reviews has been submitted for a manuscript, the Editor will make a decision based on the reviewers’ comments. Reviewers will be notified that a decision has been made via an email from the submission system. This information can be accessed via your Reviewer Area of the Editorial Manager site in the ‘Completed Assignments’ queue. If you have any comments about the decision, please contact the handling Editor of the paper. Please note that the handling Editor’s decision will be based on their own and all the reviewers’ opinions of the manuscript. For this reason, their decision may differ from the one that you recommended.

The Editor may occasionally edit or block access to a Reviewer Report to remove inappropriate comments or to remove information that could reveal a reviewer’s identity. Reviewers are encouraged to express frank and honest opinions about manuscripts but should avoid making statements that could cause offence, are derogatory or potentially libellous.

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