- Conflict of Interest
- Privacy of unpublished results
- The review
- What happens next?
Microbiology Australia is a peer-reviewed journal that uses a single-blind peer-review. The Editor-in-Chief is responsible to maintain high-quality peer-review of papers submitted to the journal and works together with an Editorial Board and usually Guest Editors to ensure a thorough and fair peer-review and the highest scientific publishing standards. Issues of Microbiology Australia are usually focused on a particular theme and most articles are by invitation to those with expertise in that theme.
All manuscripts are reviewed by at least two independent reviewers for relevance, construction, flow, style and grammar. All reviewers spend considerable time in reviewing the manuscripts and providing feedback to the authors. The length of time of the publication process can vary and depends on the quality of the work submitted. Revision may be required to bring the manuscript to a standard acceptable for publication. The Editor-in-Chief undertakes the final review and may have different questions for the author(s) to consider.
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-in-Chief.
Conflict of Interest
When asked to review a manuscript, you should disclose to the Editor-in-Chief 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-in-Chief. 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.
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.
Reviews should be completed within in the timeframe requested by the Editor-in-Chief. If you know that you cannot finish the review within that time, please contact the Editor-in-Chief 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
- Authors have documented human or animal ethics approval if relevant and considered ethical and welfare issues as appropriate
- The quality of the analysis
- The interpretation of results
- Awareness (cogent discussion) of the relevant research (local and international)
It would be helpful to the Editor to comment on unnecessary length and to point out figures and tables that have secondary importance and could be presented as Supplementary Material.
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.
What happens next?
Please 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.