As a reviewer, you play a vital role in ensuring that all articles submitted to NHIJ are of sufficient academic quality and novelty to both appeal to readers.
These guidelines will help you understand your responsibilities as a reviewer, as well as your ethical obligations to both the journal and the authors. You will also be introduced to what you should be looking for in a manuscript, so that your review will be both thorough and consistent with those of other reviewers.
Your responsibilities as a reviewer
As a reviewer, you will be responsible for reading the manuscript and evaluating its suitability for publication in NHIJ. You will be expected to provide constructive, impartial, unambiguous, and honest feedback to the authors, with the purpose of encouraging them to improve their manuscript.
NHIJ is committed to supporting the development of young academics and up-and-coming political thinkers. Any author who submits to the journal should, regardless of whether their manuscript is accepted, be left with a positive experience and have improved as a writer and researcher. While reviews should be critical, they should not be detrimental to accurate scientific communication. Therefore, any review that in any way denigrates or discourages an author from re-submitting to this or another journal will immediately be discarded, and any reviewer that attacks an author or their work will be blacklisted.
Your ethical responsibilities
NHIJ relies on the impartiality and discretion of reviewers, and as a reviewer, you are entrusted with confidential material meant solely for critical evaluation. We expect you to treat all documents and correspondence related to the review with the appropriate level of discretion.
- Do not use any of the information therein for the advancement of your own research or to discredit another party.
- Do not discuss any aspect of the manuscript with a third party.
- Ensure that the information therein and details of the review process remain confidential before, during, and after publication.
- Maintain the integrity of the double-blind review process. Do not under any circumstances contact any of the authors to discuss their manuscript.
- Be fair, honest, and objective in your evaluation of the manuscript.
- Declare a conflict of interest, and recuse yourself immediately if you believe your impartiality has been compromised.
Things to consider before agreeing to review a manuscript
Before you agree to review a manuscript, you should be certain that you have the necessary expertise and time to provide a critical evaluation of the article. You should ensure that:
- The article matches your expertise. Log into your NHIJ account and read the manuscript's abstract to determine whether your field of expertise matches that of the manuscript.
- You are able to both complete the review on time and dedicate the appropriate time to conduct a thorough review. A review should be completed within three weeks. If you do not think you can complete the review within this timeframe, please let the editor know. If possible, please also suggest an alternate reviewer. If you agree to review a manuscript, but later on find yourself unable to complete it on time, please contact the editor as soon as possible.
- You have no conflict of interest. Determine whether there is any conflict of interest that may affect your impartiality in evaluating the manuscript. If there is, you should contact the editor and immediately recuse yourself. If you were unable to detect any conflict before agreeing to the review request, but find one during the review, simply contact the editor and explain why you cannot continue.
Conducting the review
NHIJ's review procedure
NHIJ uses an online submission and peer review system. When a reviewer is requested to review a paper submitted to NHIJ, they will have a journal account created for them, through which they will be able to read the abstract and decide on whether to agree to review it.
If you have been requested to review a paper, simply log into your reviewer account, read the provided abstract, and indicate whether you agree to review it. If you decline to review the manuscript, please include the reason why, and if possible, suggest an alternate reviewer from a similar field.
To ensure the integrity of the peer-review process, all further correspondence will be through this system, with the reviewer being given access to the full manuscript and provided with a review page to fill out and submit. If you wish, you can also provide comments directly on the manuscript file, but be sure that all comments are made anonymously and focus on the content of the article, not its layout or formatting.
A good review looks at both the overall quality of the manuscript and the accuracy and precision of its details. The former is informed by the latter. When evaluating a manuscript for NHIJ, look at the following aspects:
- SCOPE. Is the manuscript within NHIJ’s scope? How interesting will the article be to the journal's readership?
- NOVELTY OF THE RESEARCH. Is the article sufficiently novel and interesting? Does it add new knowledge? How original is the research?
- APPROPRIATENESS OF THE TITLE. Does the title accurately represent the content?
- CONTENT QUALITY. Does the article adhere to NHIJ’s standards? Is the research question an important one? Does the manuscript help to expand or further current research in its respective field?
- METHODOLOGY. Is the description of the methodology informative, clear, and concise? Is the methodology of the research precise and properly conducted? How appropriate is the approach or experimental design?
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESULTS. Do the results have significant implications for biotechnology and/or society?
- APPROPRIATENESS OF TABLES, FIGURES, AND/OR SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL. Is every figure/table necessary and correctly described? Is the supplementary material appropriate for the content?
- COMPLETENESS OF THE DATA. How complete are the data?
- RELEVANCE OF THE DISCUSSION. Is the discussion relevant to the results and the rest of the content? Have the authors appropriately discussed their results in the context of previous research?
- APPROPRIATENESS OF CITATIONS/REFERENCES. Are all citations accounted for? Is there an appropriate amount of citations for the content (neither too few nor too many)?
- CLARITY OF THE CONTENT. How good is the English? Will NHIJ’s readership have trouble understanding the content?
- ADHERENCE TO NHIJ’S GUIDELINES. Does the manuscript adhere to the journal's guidelines, such as the structure of the manuscript? Have tables and figures been submitted separately?
- ADHERENCE TO CORRECT SCIENTIFIC NOMENCLATURE. Are species names up-to-date and correctly spelled? Are technical terms used correctly?
In addition to the above criteria, also pay attention to whether the manuscript contains instances of plagiarism, improper referencing, re-publication, or fraud. Things to look for:
- PLAGIARISM. Observe whether a portion of the manuscript has been copied from another work without giving appropriate credit. For example, text has been copied verbatim without a clear indication that it is a quote, text has been copied but not cited (suggesting that these are the authors' own words/ideas), or some portion of the text has been copied without the permission of the original author. If you find that a significant part of the manuscript has been plagiarized, please contact the editor as soon as possible so we can take the appropriate actions.
- MISSING, INCORRECT, OR INCOMPLETE REFERENCES. All text, figures, tables, data, ideas, or concepts that have been published previously should be cited. It is considered plagiarism for an author to present something as their own even though it is not, regardless of their intent.
- RE-PUBLICATION. It is against NHIJ’s policy to publish work that has already been published elsewhere. Please notify the editor if you find an instance of a manuscript having been published previously (partially or fully).
- FRAUD. Any part of the manuscript that is found to be untrue should be highlighted as such. Any form of data manipulation or tampering should be brought to the editor's attention.
Publication ethics is not limited to these four items. If you believe the authors have attempted to mislead readers, infringed upon a copyright or patent, or might jeopardize the integrity of the journal in any other way, please contact the handling editor.
Submitting the review
Once you have gathered enough information to make a decision on the manuscript, log into your NHIJ account to complete the review. At minimum, you will be required to grade the manuscript based on the aforementioned criteria, as well as to summarize your major findings and give your overall impression of the article. We encourage you to optionally take the opportunity to comment on the manuscript in more detail, and provide specific suggestions that might improve any aspect of it.
If you have made specific comments in the manuscript file, remember to anonymize them.
Making good comments
It's important to ensure that all comments are constructive and intended to better the quality of the manuscript or otherwise help the authors understand where they went wrong. Please reconsider making comments that fall out of this purview, and avoid making comments that belittle or disparage the work.
Follow good commenting practices. For example:
- Do not comment on the acceptability of the manuscript, and avoid suggesting revisions as conditions for acceptance.
- Provide detailed, unambiguous comments.
- Be respectful and positive. Your goal should be to help the authors improve their article, by providing constructive criticism and helpful suggestions. (Consider how you would like your own manuscript to be reviewed.)
- Highlight areas that need clarification or should be elaborated further by the authors.
- Make suggestions on how the authors can improve problematic passages. How might they improve the clarity of a given section?
- You are not required to edit the authors’ style or grammar, but any improvement to the clarity of the manuscript is greatly appreciated, especially in regards to technical terms.
- Highlight consistent instances of outdated or mispelled technical terminology.
- Avoid making dogmatic statements. You should be able to backup your comments with proof or precedence in previous literature.
- Take care not to dismiss the manuscript, whether in its novelty, methodology, or findings.
Your final task as a reviewer will be to recommend that the manuscript be a) accepted as is, b) accepted with minor revisions, c) accepted with major revisions, d) accepted with major revisions (requiring a re-review), e) rejected but with a recommendation to re-submit after the work is more developed, or f) outright rejected. If your recommendation is to reject the manuscript, you should explain your reasons why.
Each recommendation should be supported by the facts of the evaluation, and backed with constructive criticism. Be aware that you are one of at least two reviewers. Even if your recommendation differs from the other reviewers' recommendations, a good critical review will enable us to make an informed final decision on the manuscript. Also note that the final decision on the manuscript is made by the editorial board, taking into account the recommendation of each review, and your recommendation might not be reflected in this decision.