Criteria for publication
To be published a paper should meet four general criteria:
- Provide strong evidence for the author’s conclusions;
- Be novel;
- Be of great importance to scientists in a specific field;
- Ideally, be interesting to researchers in other related disciplines.
The review process
All submitted manuscripts are read by the editorial staff. Only those papers that seem most likely to meet our editorial criteria are sent for formal review. Those papers judged by the editors to be of insufficient general interest or otherwise inappropriate are rejected promptly without external review.
Manuscripts judged to be of potential interest to our readership are sent for formal review, typically to one or two reviewers. The editors then make a decision based on the reviewers’ advice.
In the process of reviewer selection we base our choice on many factors, including expertise, reputation, specific recommendations and our own previous experience of a reviewer’s characteristics. For instance, we avoid using people who are slow, careless, or do not provide reasoning for their views, whatever they are. Reviewers should bear in mind that the papers may contain confidential information, which should be treated in a proper way.
Writing the review
The primary purpose for the review is to provide the editors with the information needed to reach a decision. The review should also instruct the authors as to how they can strengthen their paper to the point where it may be acceptable. A negative review should does it best to highlight the weaknesses of the manuscript, so that the editors can understand the basis for the decision. The reviewers are not obliged to provide the authors with reasoning for any decision concerning the paper as far as peer reviewing is anonymous for the author. The editor mentions this fact in the letter to the reviewer.
Anonymity and ethics
We do not release reviewers’ identities to authors or to other reviewers, except when reviewers specifically ask to be identified. Otherwise, we prefer that reviewers should remain anonymous throughout the review process and beyond. As in all publishing decisions, the ultimate decision as to whether to publish is the responsibility of the editor of the journal concerned. The editor isn’t obliged to explain the author the reason for rejecting the paper.