Ethics in peer review

Peer review by independent scientists provides advice to the Editors and staff of journals, and is an essential component of the scientific process.

IOP journals are international in authorship and in readership and referees are carefully selected from the worldwide research community. Referees’ names are kept confidential and may only be disclosed to journal Editorial Board members, who are also instructed to maintain confidentiality. Unbiased consideration is given to all manuscripts offered for publication regardless of the race, gender, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, political philosophy, sexual orientation, age or reputation of the authors.

Information and ideas obtained whilst acting as a referee must be kept confidential and not used for competitive advantage. Referees should disclose any conflicts of interest as described here. Referees should inform the journal if they are unable to review a paper or can do so only with some delay. They should not delay the peer review process unnecessarily, either deliberately or inadvertently.

Referees should judge objectively the quality of the research reported, give fair, frank and constructive criticism and refrain from personal criticism of the authors. Comments made by referees may be seen by the authors. Therefore referees’ judgements should be explained and supported so that authors can understand the basis of the comments and judgments.

Referees 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. If they believe that the work is substantially similar to a manuscript or any paper published or submitted to another journal, they should report this to the journal staff for further investigation.

We request that referees do not contact authors directly. Many IOP journals consult two referees and the opinion of one reviewer may not reflect the journal’s final decision on an article. Receiving partial advice from one referee can give authors a misleading impression of the peer review process. If there is a particularly urgent reason for contacting the author then this should be done via the journal office.