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Peer review innovation at IOP Publishing

Co-review with a colleague

What is co-review?

Co-review allows two people to collaborate on a reviewer report, with both receiving recognition. We offer co-review in the hope that early-career researchers with limited experience of peer review can work together with more experienced colleagues or supervisors to build their peer review competency.


Why do we offer co-review on our journals?

At IOP Publishing, we are aware that early-career researchers and PhD students will occasionally write reviewer reports on behalf of their supervisors without receiving any credit for their work. By implementing this co-review functionality on our system we hope to:

  • Alleviate the burden for senior researchers who receive many invitations to review
  • Allow early-career researchers to build their peer review competency
  • Provide early-career researchers with benefits and rewards for reviewing
  • Ensure full accountability in peer review, so that everyone who contributes to peer review is known to the editorial team
  • Promote engagement of early-career researchers from communities that are under-represented in the physical sciences


How to co-review on IOP Publishing journals

If you are invited to review and wish to co-review with a colleague, select the ‘Co-review with a colleague’ link in the journal’s invitation email. You will be asked for the name and contact details of the person you will be co-reviewing with. Your co-reviewer will be invited to review the manuscript if we still require reviewers. If they accept the invitation you can work on the review together. The completed reviewer report form should be submitted to the journal through the co-reviewer’s ScholarOne account.

IOP Publishing processes all data in line with its privacy policy, available at


Co-review ethics policy

All reviewers must follow the reviewer guidelines for IOP Publishing journals, including ethics for reviewers, and COPE’s Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers.


What support to provide if you have recommended a colleague to co-review

We ask that senior researchers co-reviewing with more junior colleagues provide support through the peer review process.

Here are some tips for ensuring successful co-review. After deciding to co-review:

  • Check that your colleague understands what is expected
  • Help them to set up a timeline to complete the review by the deadline
  • Give them time to complete their review
  • Read over their review before it is submitted and discuss with them any suggestions for changes
  • Check that their recommendation matches the content of the reviewer report

You may also want to direct your co-review colleague towards formal training in peer review. IOP Publishing offers free, online peer review training, tailored specifically for the physical sciences. The training course takes 1–2 hours to complete and can be accessed here: Peer Review Excellence.


What to do if you have been invited to co-review by a senior colleague?

Co-review is a great way to get involved in the peer review community. Critiquing a manuscript can give you a deeper knowledge of your field, help you understand how to structure and write your own manuscripts, and build confidence in your own expertise.

While it is your responsibility to write and submit the reviewer report, the colleague that recommended you should help you through this process.

Here are some tips on how to review a manuscript:

  • If this is your first time reviewing, we strongly advise that you complete our free Peer Review Excellence online training. We recommend this training to early-career researchers and anyone who is submitting their first review. This comprehensive training course is designed to give researchers in the physical sciences the tools and confidence to review well. The course covers the fundamentals of peer review, how to write a review and peer review ethics. Our Peer Review Excellence course takes 1–2 hours to complete. You can register for free here: Peer Review Excellence.
  • Follow this link to find information on How to prepare and send in your reviewer report.
  • Ensure that you get feedback and support from your co-reviewer by sending them your reviewer report to read before it is submitted.

To find more information on what submitting a reviewer report entails, you can read IOP Publishing’s information on Becoming a journal reviewer, How to prepare and send in your reviewer report, and After you have submitted your reviewer report.


After you have submitted your reviewer report

In the current system, peer reviewers rarely receive feedback on their reviewer reports, including how useful the editor found the review. At IOP Publishing, we have trialled a system to send reviewers feedback on their reviewer reports. In 2023, this will be rolled out to all our journals. There will be an option to opt in and receive an evaluation of your reviewer report. The evaluation will be based on the structure, constructiveness, and usefulness of the report, not the scientific content. Until then you can request feedback on your report by contacting



Our editors rate all of the reviews we receive on a scale of 1–5, with 5 representing a review of outstanding quality. Click here to read the full breakdown of the reviewer report ratings. These are the criteria to have a reviewer report rated 5 out of 5:

Criteria Level to be rated 5 out of 5
Thoroughness Detailed and very thorough: comments on essentially all sections of the manuscript
Assessment of significance Comments on the significance of the work within the context of the field
Literature comparison Includes a comprehensive comparison with existing literature
Feedback quality Constructive feedback that enables the author(s) to improve the manuscript
Recommendation Recommendation is clearly justified and consistent with the journal’s editorial standards
Timeliness Submitted in the agreed timeframe


Any reviewer who submits a reviewer report rated 5 will achieve IOP trusted reviewer status and receive a certificate. For reviewers who have completed our Peer Review Excellence training, the threshold for IOP trusted reviewer status is reduced to a review rated 4 or above.

You can also gain recognition through the Web of Science Reviewer Recognition Service (formerly known as Publons).


Co-review FAQs

  • Can journal board members use the co-review functionality?

Board members should not delegate with co-review. As a board member we rely on your expertise in your field and your knowledge of the journal. Also, there made be problems with confidentiality. Therefore, it is inappropriate for your colleague to work on the review.


  • I delegated to a colleague, but they have not been invited yet?

There may be a short delay between you letting us know you want to co-review with a colleague and your colleague receiving the invitation to review while our editorial team check if any more reviews are needed on the manuscript. In some cases other reviewers will have accepted their review invitations and additional reviews are not required.


  • How do I view the manuscript if I delegated to a colleague?

The colleague you are reviewing with will receive an invitation and instructions on how to collaborate with you ‘offline’ to complete the review. Once they have received and accepted the invitation they will be able to access the manuscript and share it with you.


  • How do I accept the review invitation if a colleague delegated the review to me?

If you have received a review invitation after your colleague recommended you for co-review, you will need to accept the review invitation, do not select co-review with a colleague as this will prompt you to enter the details of a new colleague.


  • Can I delegate a review to more than one colleague?

If you would like more than one colleague to work on the review please contact the journal inbox. We do allow this but it is important that our editorial team know who has written the review. Only one colleague will be able to receive the invitation and submit the review.



Transparent peer review

IOP Publishing was the first physics publisher to adopt transparent peer review on all of its open access journals. Transparent peer review allows the reader to view the full history of a manuscript including the reviewer reports. You can read more about transparent peer review here.


How does it work?

  • The reviewer comments, author responses and editorial decision letters are published alongside the final published manuscript, in citable form. The manuscript may have been single- or double-anonymously peer reviewed before publication. We hope that this greater transparency will improve the quality of the review process, give more recognition to the work of reviewers and help with the teaching of best practice in peer review.
  • Both authors and reviewers can opt out of transparent peer review. The peer review history will only appear for manuscripts where the author and (all) reviewers opt in. Reviewers who do opt in can still choose to remain anonymous.


What should I do if I, the reviewer, want to opt in to transparent peer review?

For reviewers, you will see an option to agree or decline transparent peer review on the reviewer report form. There will also be an option to choose whether or not you would like your name to appear publicly with your reviewer report if the authors and reviewers all opt in.


How do authors opt in to transparent peer review?

Authors will have been advised to check the journal they are submitting to supports transparent peer review (it is available on all of IOP Publishing’s fully open access journals). If it does, they will have seen an option to agree or decline transparent peer review before they submitted their manuscript.


What does transparent peer review look like?

The peer review history is available only for manuscripts displaying a Web of Science (formerly known as Publons) badge (above) at the top of the manuscript (next to the title). Click on the badge to view further information. All peer review content displayed will be covered by a Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 license.

Some example manuscripts published with transparent peer review content are available here:



Double anonymous

Most journals operate a peer review model known as single-anonymous (previously known as single-blind). This method has been used since peer review originated. Although it is the most widely used model of peer review within science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, single-anonymous is imperfect.

Single anonymous: Reviewers are anonymous to authors. Author identities are visible to reviewers.

Double anonymous: Authors and reviewers are anonymous to each other.

In 2020, IOP Publishing became the first major publisher to commit to adopting double-anonymous peer review across all of our journals, with the goal of reducing bias with respect to gender, race, country of origin or affiliation, and ensuring that scientific manuscripts are judged objectively on their own merit. Double-anonymous will be the default option when submitting a paper, but authors have the option to remain under the single-anonymous model (by not redacting their names and affiliations at submission).

When you receive a manuscript to review it will either be single- or double-anonymous. Authors are responsible for anonymising their manuscript before submission. If you are invited to review an anonymised manuscript, we ask you to undertake an objective review and not to go out of your way to undermine author anonymity.

Read our double-anonymous FAQs.



Feedback on reviewer reports

In the current system, peer reviewers rarely receive feedback on their reviewer reports, including how useful the editor found the reviewer report. At IOP Publishing, we have trialled a system to send reviewers feedback on their reports. In 2023, this will be rolled out to all our journals. There will be an option to opt in and receive an evaluation of your reviewer report. The evaluation will be based on the structure, constructiveness, and usefulness of the report, not the scientific content. We will not provide evaluations for Editorial Board Member or Guest Editor reports. Until then you can request feedback on your reviewer report by contacting



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