Ethics for reviewers
Reviewers are expected to perform the review of the work themselves, unless they are participating in co-review. Submitting a review in the name of another person (real or fictional) is misconduct and will not be tolerated. IOP Publishing has the right to request proof of identity in cases where identity fraud or impersonation is alleged or suspected.
Conflicts of interest
To uphold impartiality, you should consider any potential conflict of interest before agreeing to review and should contact the editorial office in the following instances:
- You are in direct competition with the authors
- You are a co-worker or collaborator with one of the authors
- You are in a position to exploit the authors’ work (commercially or otherwise)
- You may be legally prohibited due to national sanctions
- You are in a position which prevents you from giving an objective opinion of the work.
Minor conflicts do not disqualify you from reporting on an article, but will be taken into account when considering the reviewers’ recommendations. Major conflicts of interest (especially relating to a financial commercial interest >£5000/year) do disqualify you. You should act within the spirit of the Nolan principles of public life.
If you are unable to act as a reviewer due to a conflict of interest, we will select an alternative reviewer.
If the journal is double-anonymous you may not be sure if you have a conflict of interest. If you suspect there may be a reason you should not act as a reviewer, please contact the editorial office who will be able to investigate and advise.
Anonymity and confidentiality
Reviewer names are kept strictly confidential. Reviewer identities may only be disclosed to journal Editorial Board members, who are also instructed to maintain confidentiality. You should not disclose your identity to the authors, including sending reports directly to the authors.
Information and ideas obtained whilst acting as a reviewer must be kept confidential and not used for competitive advantage.
We also ask that you do not discuss the papers you have reviewed with colleagues unless they have been published.
Reviewers should judge objectively the quality of the research reported, give fair, frank and constructive criticism and refrain from personal criticism of the authors. Reviewers’ judgements should be explained and supported so that authors can understand the basis of the comments and judgements.
Reviewers should inform the journal if they are unable to review a paper or can only do so with some delay. Reviewers should not delay the peer review process unnecessarily, either deliberately or inadvertently.
Reviewers are expected to point out relevant work that has not been cited, and use citations to explain where elements of the work have been previously reported. When writing a report, reviewers should justify any literature references suggested for inclusion in the work.
Citations should add value, and should not be unfairly biased towards an individual, group or organisation. Please note that the Editor reserves the right to challenge excessive citation suggestions, especially to the reviewer’s own work. The practice of including superfluous references, including to the reviewer’s own work, to promote and inflate citation scores is unethical. The Editor reserves the right to exclude citation suggestions from reports if these are considered to be potential acts of citation manipulation, and/or to protect reviewers’ anonymity.
Large Language Models (including ChatGPT)
IOP Publishing does not accept or condone the use of Large Language Models (LLMs) or AI chatbots to write peer review reports, either fully or partially. By accepting a review invitation, a reviewer agrees to adhere to the ethical standards of IOP Publishing, including reporting any conflicts of interest, ensuring the manuscript under review remains confidential, and retaining their anonymity as a reviewer. LLMs and AI chatbots are not subject experts as they lack the ability or comprehension to assume responsibility for work they have helped create and are therefore unable to adhere to the ethical standards set out by IOP Publishing. Furthermore, LLMs and AI chatbots do not have the legal personality to sign publishing agreements or licences.
Suspected author misconduct
Reviewers should report any suspicions of misconduct to the journal staff for investigation. This includes, but is not limited to, suspicions of:
- Duplicate publication
- Parallel submission
- Data fabrication / falsification
- Image manipulation
- Incorrect authorship
- Author conflict of interest
- Unethical research practices
- Content that could be considered offensive
We follow the COPE guidelines on responding to whistleblowers, which includes protecting your anonymity.