Ethics for reviewers

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 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.

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.

Objectivity

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.

Timeliness

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.

Citations

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. Please note that the Editor also reserves the right to exclude citation suggestions from reports to protect reviewers’ anonymity.

Suspected author misconduct

If a reviewer believes the work is substantially similar to a manuscript or any paper published or submitted to any other journal, they should report this to the journal staff for investigation. We follow the COPE guidelines on responding to whistleblowers, which includes protecting your anonymity.

For more information on ethics please read our ethical policy.