Reviewers are expected to follow the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers, and must give unbiased consideration to each manuscript. They should judge each on its merits, without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the author(s). It is expected that reviewer feedback to authors is constructive, courteous and clear. If you are in any doubt about the expectations for reviewers, advice should be sought from the Editor.
- Conflict of Interest
- Criteria for publication
- Privacy of unpublished results
- The review
- Grammatical editing
- What happens next?
- Aspects to consider for the various types of articles
Conflict of Interest
When asked to review a manuscript, you should disclose to the Editor any conflicts of interest that could bias your opinion of the manuscript. If you believe that you cannot judge a manuscript impartially because of contact with the authors or a possible conflict of interest, please decline the invitation to review and provide an explanation to the Editor. Importantly, the perception of a conflict of interest is as significant as an actual conflict of interest.
Financial or business relationships are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal and authors. Conflicts can also occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships or rivalries, academic competition, or intellectual or ideological beliefs.
Possible conflicts of interest may occur when reviewers:
1. have a history of serious (unresolved) disagreement with the authors
2. have been recent (i.e. in the past 3 years) collaborators or jointly published papers
3. are currently employed at the same institution or have a mentor/mentee relationship
4. were part of an internal review panel for the paper before submission.
If you are unsure whether the potential for bias exists, please ask the Editor.
Criteria for publication
The publishing policy of Environmental Chemistry is to accept only those papers that report important new chemistry with clear and significant implications for, or applications in, the environment (air, water, soil, sediments, space, and biota). Papers that report incremental results, which do not have sufficient originality and significance, should not be recommended for acceptance. Your report should help us select the most important papers with the broadest significance to the international environmental community.
Privacy of unpublished results
An unpublished manuscript is a privileged document. Please protect it from any form of exploitation. Do not cite a manuscript or refer to the work it describes before it has been published and do not use the information that it contains for the advancement of your own research or in discussion with colleagues.
Do not discuss the manuscript with its authors unless permission has been granted by the Editor. Although it may seem natural and reasonable to discuss points of difficulty or disagreement directly with the author, especially if you are generally in favour of publication and do not mind revealing your identity, this practice is prohibited because the other reviewer(s) and the Editor may have different opinions, and the author may be misled by having ´cleared things up´ with the reviewer who contacted him/her directly.
Reviews should be completed within about 15 days. If you know that you cannot finish the review within that time, please contact the Editorial Assistant immediately. In addition, if you believe that you cannot judge a given article impartially through contact with the authors or a possible conflict of interest, please return it immediately with an explanation.
The review should give your overall impression of the manuscript, and list the major shortcomings. Please consider the following aspects in particular:
- The novelty of the work, and whether there is sufficient originality and substance to be worthy of publication
- The articulation of the rationale or hypothesis
- The appropriateness of the experimental design and analyses
- Authors have documented human or animal ethics approval if relevant and considered ethical and welfare issues as appropriate
- The quality of the technical analysis, and the correct use of units
- The interpretation of results
- Awareness (cogent discussion) of related international research
It is expected that reviewer feedback to authors is constructive, courteous and clear. In line with COPE Guidelines: Editing Peer Reviews, editors have discretion to edit the contents of review reports in limited circumstances to address issues of tone, language, and deviations from journal policy and reviewer guidelines. In doing so the editor should not change the meaning or intention of the review, nor amend or edit the professional opinion put forth by the reviewer about the quality, content, or intellectual validity of the work. The editor will inform the reviewer of any significant edits made to their review and will also advise the author that the review contents have been edited for a specific reason. A review will not be suppressed entirely unless there are ethical or legal concerns about the contents of the review.
Your recommendation will assist the Editor in deciding whether to publish the article. If recommending revision, be specific in stating the changes you feel need to be made, allowing the author to reply to each point. Please ensure your feedback is constructive and polite.
If you're recommending acceptance, give details outlining why. There may still be a few basic typos to correct or simple suggestions to consider, but no substantial revision.
You will not be asked to review the manuscript again.
These are more substantial than basic typos, but still relatively straightforward, and may include:
- Corrections to references (and is all the relevant work cited?);
- Corrections to factual, numerical or unit errors;
- Corrections to ambiguous text;
- Corrections to tables and figures – are these appropriate, sufficient, and correctly labelled?
Typically, you will not be asked to review the manuscript again after minor revision.
These are at a more demanding level. While you believe the research may warrant publication, you are requesting new analysis, discussion and/or significant revision. If major revisions are required, please indicate clearly what they are.
You may be asked to review the manuscript again after revision.
Reject and resubmit
Some journals offer this option where substantial revision is necessary.
Be clear in your comments to the author (or editor) which points are absolutely critical if the paper is given an opportunity for revision.
Give constructive but polite feedback where manuscripts have serious flaws. This encourages developing researchers to improve their work. Reasons for rejection may include:
- Major flaws – state what they are and the severity of their impact on the paper;
- Similarity to work already published without the authors acknowledging this;
- Major presentational problems - figures, tables, language and manuscript structure are not clear enough for you to accurately assess the work;
- Ethical issues (if you are unsure it may be better to disclose these in the confidential comments section).
You will not be asked to review the manuscript again.
You are not requested to correct deficiencies of style or mistakes in grammar, but any help you can give in clarifying meaning will be appreciated (track changes can expedite the editing process; a MS Word file, in addition to the PDF, is available in ScholarOne by accessing the Manuscript Files tab). The copy-editing staff employed by Environmental Chemistry will edit each accepted manuscript. It is their function to polish and correct the grammar, syntax, and spelling and to enforce the editorial style of the journal. However, be on the lookout for errors that the copyeditors (who are trained chemical scientists but not necessarily specialists in the subject of the manuscript) might miss. Examples are the use of outmoded or incorrect terminology, misspelled or misidentified scientific names of organisms, and inappropriate scientific jargon.
What happens next?
When you open ScholarOne Manuscripts to submit your report, you will be offered some questions with a check box. The answers to these are for the use of the Editor, and are not conveyed directly to the authors. The most important are the first and last: the quality of the manuscript and your recommendation.
Keep a copy of the review in your files. If you have recommended ´major revision´, the revised manuscript may be returned to you for further comment.
Once a decision is made on the paper, you will be sent feedback on the decision and comments of other reviewer(s).
Aspects to consider for the various types of articles
Environmental Chemistry primarily publishes research that advances our knowledge of chemical processes of the environment. Specific comments should give evidence to support positive or negative general comments. Aspects to consider for the various types of articles are listed below.
- Research papers. How well does this study meet that criterion? Does the paper arouse and maintain your interest? Do you expect the study to have a significant impact in its research area? Do you expect the study to be significant for the broader environmental chemistry community? How do you rate the experimental design? How do you rate the quality of the measurements or modeling/calculations? Is the paper written in a clear and logical manner?
- Reviews. Does the review provide an informative and critical assessment of the current state of the research topic? Do you expect the review to have a significant impact in its research area? Do you expect the review to be useful for the broader environmental chemistry community? Is the review written in a clear and logical manner? How would you rank this review article compared with other reviews, in this general area, that you have read over the last 2-3 years?
- Concepts, Highlights & Opinions. How well does this study meet that criterion? Does the article deliver an interesting and novel perspective to the research topic? Do you expect the article to have a significant impact in its research area? Do you expect the article to be of interest to the broader environmental chemistry community? Is the article written in a clear and logical manner? How would you rank this article compared with other articles, of similar style and in this general area, that you have read over the last 2-3 years?
- Rapid Communications. How well does this study meet that criterion? How do you rate the scientific approach taken in this study? How do you rate the results from this study?