Information for reviewers

The peer review process

The Microbiology Society journals and open research platform use the Editorial Manager submission system. This guide explains the processes involved in reviewing articles through Editorial Manager, but if you have any issues with your review, please contact the Editorial Office.

Invitation and accepting to review

Invitation to review

Editors will send out review requests to potential reviewers by email via the Editorial Manager submission system. This review request will contain the title, abstract and authors’ names of the article. Based on this information we ask you to either accept or decline the invitation by clicking on the links within the email, ideally within seven days of receiving the invitation to review. If you decline an invitation to review, please suggest potential alternative reviewers.

Please notify the Editor of any personal, professional or financial conflict of interest that could affect the handling of an article.

Accepting an invitation to review

Reviewers have 14 days to submit their review. If you are willing to review the article but will require a little more time, please accept the invitation and then contact the Editorial Office to agree an extended deadline.

You will receive an automatic reminder a few days before your review is due. 

When you agree to review an article, we ask if you will also help to assess revisions of the article. The Editors will only send a revised article back to you where the changes you required were substantial, and the authors have clearly made a reasonable attempt to address your comments.

Accessing the article for review

If you accept an invitation will get a second email confirming your access to the article. To gain access, click the relevant link in the email and log in using your username and password.

If you do not have an account when the Editor is inviting you to review, they will create an account on your behalf and you will be asked to complete the minimal registration the first time you access the system. We recommend that you add your keywords to your account so you only receive relevant invitations.

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Preparing your review

As well as any journal-specific guidance provided by email, we ask reviewers to comment on the following aspects of an article:

  • Design and methodology
    • Are the research objectives clearly stated and were they met?
    • Is there an adequate review of the published literature?
    • Are the methods described in enough detail to permit someone to reproduce the experiments?
    • Are the methods appropriate to the research? Do they address the problem, and do they include relevant controls?
    • Have the authors used appropriate statistical tools to address the findings?
    • Have the authors followed relevant ethical guidelines?
  • Results and conclusions
    • How significant are the findings described in the article, and do they represent an advance in knowledge and understanding?
    • Have the results been interpreted properly?
    • Are the conclusions based on sound data, with reasonable reference to the published literature?
  • General
    • Is the article well written and of an appropriate length?
    • Is the number of tables and figures appropriate, or should some of the data be published as supplementary material?
    • Is the supplementary material relevant to the article?

For Access Microbiology, you will also have access to the reports of the manuscript Review Tools, SciScore and iThenticate, to support your assessment. The SciScore report can be accessed from the Manuscript Analysis Services under the Actions area in Editorial Manager, whilst the iThenticate results live directly under the Actions area. For more information on what these Review Tools do and how to interpret the reports, please see the platform's About page.

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Submitting your review

The Reviewer Report is in five parts:

  • Recommendation and overall rating:
    • Journals only: recommendations for any of the five journals can be Minor Revision, Major Revision, Accept or Reject.
    • Access Microbiology only: due to the sound science nature of the platform, we believe almost all articles can be improved and eventually published, following clear guidance from the Editor and reviewers, so recommendations are therefore Minor Amendment, Major Revision, or Accept. If you believe the article is ethically compromised or scientifically unsound beyond revision, please choose ‘Major Revision’, provide thorough and constructive feedback to the author, and provide a confidential comment to the Editor as to your concerns. The Editor may decide to discontinue peer review based on reviewer comments, giving the article a No Longer Under Review decision.
  • Manuscript Questions in which you may be asked about:
    • The scientific content, originality and standard of presentation.
    • If you have any ethical concerns or potential conflicts of interest
    • If you would like to be included in our annual thank you list of reviewers on the journal website.
  • Confidential comments for the Editor: please give your reasons for your recommendation in this area and any private concerns.
  • Comments for the Author: 
    • Journals only: can either be entered into the box or uploaded as a word processor or PDF file.
    • Access Microbiology only: can only be entered into the box as free text. Most formatting is removed before it is posted on the platform, so please present your comments as simply as possible for ease of reading.
  • Review authorisation: 
    • Journals only: You will be asked to confirm whether you are happy for your review and and/or your identifying information to be transferred to another Microbiology Society journal if the manuscript is rejected and transferred. Reviews performed in any of the five journals are never transferred to Access Microbiology.
    • Access Microbiology only: You will be asked if a) you would like to provide your name publicly to your review and b) to confirm that you understand and agree to posting of the review publicly. Reviews in Access Microbiology are never transferred to any of the Society journals.

The review can be saved and then edited later if required.

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 article will be informed that you have submitted your review.

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Editor decision

Once the required number of reviews has been received for an article, the Editor will make a decision. The Editor’s decision will be based on their own judgement and informed by the reviewers’ reports. For this reason, their decision may differ from the one that you recommended.

You will be notified that a decision has been made via an email, and the information can also be accessed through your Reviewer Area in the ‘Completed Assignments’ queue in Editorial Manager. If you provided a review for Access Microbiology, your review is posted publicly alongside the preprint at this point. Reviews provided for Access Microbiology are also included in the published Version of Record.

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 honest opinions about articles but should not make statements that could cause offence, are derogatory or potentially libellous.

If you have any comments about the decision, please contact the Editorial Office.

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Reviewer recognition

You will receive an email confirmation for every review you complete, but if you require a formal Certificate of Review, for example as part of a tenure application, please contact the relevant journal’s Editorial Office.

All reviewers also have the option to have their review activities deposited in their ORCID account. To do this, you should view your ‘Completed Reviewer Assignments’ in Editorial Manager and for the manuscript you would like to deposit, select ‘ORCID Deposit Authorization’ in the action links. ORCID is updated automatically each quarter and each deposit will indicate the year and the journal that the review was performed for.

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Review ethics

Conflicts of interest

The purpose of peer review is to provide impartial and objective assessments of articles. It is essential that you notify the Editor of any personal, professional or financial conflicts of interest that could affect the handling of an article. The Reviewer Report contains a query regarding potential conflicts of interest and if you select ‘Yes’ you will be asked to provide further details.

The following types of conflict should be declared, but do not prevent you from returning a report:

  • You have a research or clinical position funded by companies that sell drugs or devices which are discussed in the article, or which compete with those discussed in the article, or another financial involvement with those companies.
  • Your sources of research funding could have aims that could conflict with the article’s findings.
  • You have a pending grant or patent application which could conflict with the article’s findings.

The following types of conflict may prevent you from returning a report, but should be discussed with the Editor:

  • You hold a very strong belief in a theory or idea, and may not be impartial in reviewing articles that present a position that is contrary to your beliefs.
  • You are in direct competition with the authors in the same field of research.
  • You have been asked to review work by members of your family or friends, or by colleagues with whom you have worked in the last two years.


Articles and their contents must be regarded as confidential, and as such we request all reviewers to follow the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers.

Our five journals currently run single-blind peer review, whereby reviewer identities are not revealed to the authors of articles, but the reviewers may see the authors’ identities as part of the review process.

Access Microbiology is an open research platform which operates with a transparent peer review model. This means that the content of all reviews will be posted publicly alongside the versioned article on the platform. Reviewers are not obliged to reveal their identity but may sign their reviews if they wish. We ask that even in the case where reviewers choose to provide their name publicly to their review, that they do not contact the author directly during the peer review process, and to only provide comments via the submitted peer review report. For more information on how the platform works, see the platform’s About page.

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