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Writing your report and making a recommendation

Quality assessment

When reviewing for an IOP journal, you will typically be asked to score the article on a number of different aspects. Individual journal guidelines may vary, so do check the journal-specific guidance here for more information. You will usually be asked to give a score between 1 and 10 (1 = very poor, 10 = excellent). The aspects you may be asked to comment on include:

a measure of the novelty of the ideas and techniques reported in the manuscript compared to the existing literature. Articles presenting little or no new ideas or techniques should be given a low rating (1–3). Ideas or techniques that are not new but are approached in an original way should be given a medium rating (4–6). Completely original ideas, approaches to problems or experimental techniques should be given a high rating (7–10).
Scientific rigour:
a measure of how well the experiment has been carried out; whether all necessary details of the method and results are presented in a way that they can be reproduced; and whether the results have been appropriately analysed and discussed. (This includes the testability of any theoretical predictions or modelling.)
a measure of the likely impact of the results presented within the article’s field. If the article presents trivial or incremental results, it should be given a low rating (1–3). Articles that do not advance the field significantly but have archival value should be given a medium rating (4–6). Articles that provide significant new insight or make an important advance in the field should be given a high rating (7–10).
a measure of the quality of writing within the article and how well the authors have conveyed the information. Articles written in very poor or broken English, that are very difficult to follow or completely unintelligible should be given a low rating (1–3). Articles that are understandable, but would still need significant language editing should be given a medium rating (4–6). Articles that are mostly clear and complete and would only require minimal editing should be given a high rating (7–10).

Comments to the Editor

Please use this section of the report form to record any confidential comments intended for the Editor only.

Comments to the author

Most of your report should go in this section. Please remember to use appropriate language in your comments for the author. IOP Publishing retains the right to make minor edits to reports if the reviewer has used language that is inappropriate or offensive, or if they have revealed their identity on a double-anonymous journal. In exceptional circumstances IOP Publishing has the right to withdraw reviewer reports.

Please justify any literature reference(s) you suggest the authors should cite, especially any to your own work. The Editor reserves the right to exclude irrelevant citation suggestions from reports.

Start your report by briefly summarizing the purpose and results of the paper. This shows the authors and editors of the journal that you have read and understood the work. The body of your report should concentrate on the quality of the article. It can be helpful for the author if you number your points. You should comment on the strengths of the paper as well as what could be improved. Please provide full references to earlier work if you believe the research does not add anything new.
Reviewers are not required to give a detailed summary of the paper. However, your report should be substantial and thorough. You should explain your thinking and give the author and editors enough reasoning to support your recommendation. If you are requesting the author to revise the article, be clear about what is needed to bring the article up to the required quality standards for publication.

Occasionally we receive very short referee reports that do not provide evidence to support the recommendation. On receipt of such reports we may contact the referee to request some additional comments, both to assist us with assessment and to assist the author with any potential revision.

Your report should be polite, objective and constructive. You should not make any personal comments. Think about what kind of report you would like to receive.

You may also upload a file containing your comments.

Making your recommendation as a reviewer

You will be asked to give a recommendation. The Editor will take into account your recommendation along with those provided by any other reviewers. Your recommendation should be either:

  • Accept
  • Amendments required before acceptance
  • Unsatisfactory revision

Make sure you explain the recommendation you have made in your report. You may see fewer recommendation options if you are reviewing a revised manuscript.

Comprehensive peer review training

On this page you can find an overview of how to critique a scientific manuscript and what to look for when acting as a peer reviewer. However, IOP Publishing also offers a free, comprehensive online training course leading to IOP Trusted Reviewer certification.

Our Peer Review Excellence course takes around 90 minutes to complete. You can register for free here: Peer Review Excellence.

When you review a manuscript for any IOP Publishing journal you are eligible for IOP Trusted Reviewer certification.

Our editors rate all of the reviews we receive on a scale of 1-5, with 5 representing a review of outstanding quality. Any reviewer who submits a report rated 5 will achieve IOP Trusted Reviewer status and become eligible for our Reviewer Awards. For reviewers who have completed our Peer Review Excellence training, the threshold for IOP Trusted Reviewer status is a review rated 4 or above.

Please note that in cases where the manuscript editor rescinds a reviewer report due to excessive self-citation, citation manipulation, or any other form of reviewer misconduct, the re-submitted report will receive a maximum rating of 2.

This document shows how we use the 5-point Reviewer score to rate reviews.

These documents contain examples of outstanding reviews in the fields of:

This document contains examples of reviews rated 1, 3, and 5.

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