The peer-review process is an essential and vital tool for the publication of quality scholarship and for fostering constructive dialogue within and across disciplines. It provides advice and assistance to authors to help them improve and develop their manuscripts, and it facilitates the development and dissemination of knowledge in vetted academic resources.
As a reviewer, you will be advising both the authors and the editors, who will make the final decision about whether to publish a manuscript. The editors will send your review to the author(s) at their discretion. Reviewers do not have to sign their reviews—thereby identifyying themselves to the author(s)—unless they choose to do so.
Please do not make any comments you do not wish the author(s) to see. (You may indicate some comments directed only to the editors; if so, please indicate these areas clearly in your review.) The review process can and should help authors develop their knowledge and abilities. Criticism should be reasoned, courteous, constructive, and sufficiently detailed to (1) help the editors make an informed decision and (2) assist the authors with areas for improvement. Even if a paper is not accepted for publication, the JBI will forward critiques and suggestions that might help authors improve their papers. References in support of comments are encouraged.
Manuscripts submitted to the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry are confidential documents. Please do not discuss them with anyone.
Submitting a Review
The Journal of Bioethical Inquiry (JBI) uses an online submission system called Editorial Manager. Online submission substantially reduces the editorial processing and reviewing times and shortens overall publication times. It also offers authors the option of tracking the progress of manuscripts in real time.
As a peer-reviewer for the JBI, you will use the Editorial Manager system to access assigned manuscripts and submit your feedback, suggestions, and final decision. Step-by-step instructions for submitting a review through the online manuscript submission system for the JBI can be found below.
If you encounter any difficulties during the reviewing process, please contact Bronwen Morrell, JBI Managing Editor.
If you are a New Reviewer and do not yet have a user name and password, you first will need to register in the system. (Most reviewers already will be registered by the Handling Editor of a manuscript.) On the Editorial Manager home page for the JBI, click the “Register” link located in the upper, left-hand corner of the screen and enter the requested information. Upon successful registration, you will be sent an e-mail with instructions to verify your registration. You also will receive an assigned user name and a password. To change your user name and password: Log into the system and select “Update My Information”’ in the upper, left-hand corner of the screen.
You may log into the system at any time by returning to the Editorial Manager home page for the JBI and clicking the “Login” link located in the upper, left-hand corner of the screen. Enter your user name and password, and then click the “Reviewer Login” button.
Once you are registered or if you are a Returning Reviewer, do not register again. Simply return to the Editorial Manager home page for the JBI and click the “Login” link located in the upper, left-hand corner of the screen. Enter your user name and password, and then click the “Reviewer Login” button.
- In the “Reviewer Main Menu,” you will see three links: “New Reviewer Invitations,” “Pending Assignments,” and “Completed Assignments.”
- If you have not accepted all of your invitations to review manuscripts, click the “New Reviewer Invitations” and assess whether you feel you have the expertise to act as a reviewer for these assignments. If so, accept the invitation; if so, decline the invitation. Often, you will have already accepted or declined invitations using the links sent directly to your e-mail account.
- Once you have accepted an invitation, the manuscript to review will appear in the “Pending Assignments” category. Click this link to access the manuscripts you have accepted to review.
- Under the “Action” menu, you may view and read a manuscript by clicking the “View Submission” link.
- Please assess each manuscript according to the criteria and suggestions listed below (on this web page) under the headings “What to Review” and “Responsibilities of Reviewers.”
- When you are ready to submit your comments, you will do so by clicking the “Submit Recommendation” link under the “Action” menu in the JBI online management system.
- This will bring you to the Reviewer Recommendation and Comments page. In this page, you will be asked to do the following:
- (A) Using the dropdown menu, choose your “Recommendation.”
- (B) In the lower half of the page are the “Comments to the Author” and “Comments to the Editor” text boxes. Place any and all comments to the Author and Editor in the proper text box.
- (C) Should you need to upload a file associated with your review, click the “Upload Reviewer Attachments” button, which will open a pop-up screen. Locate and choose the appropriate file by clicking the “Browse” button. Enter a name for this file (something that is easily understadable by the author) in the “Description” text box. Then click the “Attach This File” button.
- (D) Once all of your comments have been entered in the appropriate text boxes and any attachments have been uploaded, click the “Proceed with Recommendation” button.
- Next, a recommendation summary will be displayed. Here you may review your comments to the Editor and the Author. Please take this time to check if you have put your comments in the appropriate text boxes.
- If you wish to alter your recommendation and/or comments, click on the “Back” or “Edit Review” button.
- If everything is in order, click on the “Submit Review” button.
- A confirmation window will pop-up. Please click on “OK” to proceed.
- Lastly, a confirmation page will be displayed thanking you for your review.
- Click on the “Log Out” link in the upper, left-hand corner of the screen to log out of the system.
You may log into the system at any time by returning to the Editorial Manager home page for the JBI and clicking the “Login” link located in the upper, left-hand corner of the screen. Enter your user name and password, and then click the “Author Login” button.
What to Review
In assessing a manuscript as to its suitability for publication, please provide constructive feedback and substantiate any comments you make on the strengths and weaknesses of the paper.
Assessments should consider whether the manuscript:
- Is accessible for an intelligent but broad audience (the non-specialist reader);
- Offers an interesting, original, and/or thought-provoking perspective;
- Represents an important development of existing thought on the chosen topic;
- Employs well-reasoned arguments, supported by appropriate and sufficient sources; and
- Is well-written with proper citations and references.
For papers that report empirical research, please comment on:
- Does the work add enough to what is already in the published literature?
- If so, what does it add?
- If not, please cite relevant references.
- Importance of the Work to General Readers
- Is a general journal the right place for this paper?
- Scientific Reliability
- The Research Question (It it clearly defined and appropriately answered?)
- The Study Design (It is adequate?)
- Participants (Are they adequately described?)
- Methods (Are they appropriate and adequately described? Are they ethical?)
- Results (Do they answer the research question? Are they credible? Are they well-presented?)
- Interpretation and Conclusions (Are they warranted by and sufficiently derived from/focused on the data? Is the message clear?)
- References (Are they up-to-date and relevant? Are there any glaring omissions?)
- Abstract (Does it reflect accurately what the paper says?)
Additionally, please provide brief statements (one paragraph or less) on:
- Your understanding of the content of this manuscript/study;
- Your understanding of the contribution of this manuscript to the JBI’s aims or relevance to the JBI readership;
- Your understanding of the significance of the paper regarding issues or problems relevant to the subject area;
- The style and organization of the paper (including suggestions you think would improve the paper); and
- A list of other, minor changes such as spelling or grammatical errors.
Responsibilities as a Reviewer
- Providing feedback on the scholarly merits and the scientific value of the manuscript in a timely manner;
- Avoiding gratuitous claims unsubstantiated by evidence or deriving from personal biases;
- Respecting different disciplinary perspectives and refraining from making judgments if authors lack expertise in a specific area;
- Indicating whether the writing is clear, concise, and relevant;
- Assessing the manuscript’s composition, rigor, accuracy and originality;
- Avoiding personally derogatory comments or criticism; and
- Refraining from direct contact with the author about the manuscript without the agreement of the editor.
- Notifying the editor if they cannot complete the review in a timely manner and, where possible, providing names of other potential reviewers;
- Assessing scholarly merit, originality, and scope of the manuscript and indicating ways to improve it;
- Identifying ethical concerns, including scientific integrity or violation of accepted norms of ethical behavior in animal or human research; and
- Disclosing pecuniary or nonpecuniary dualities and conflicts of interest and declining to review when a conflict of interests is evident.
If reviewers suspect misconduct, they should notify the editor in confidence and should not share their concerns with other parties unless officially advised by the JBI that they may do so.
- Protecting readers from incorrect or flawed research or studies that cannot be validated by others; and
- Ensuring that relevant works by other authors are adequately acknowledged.
Ethical Responsibilities of Reviewers
Material submitted for review should be treated in confidence and reviewers should take care to protect authors’ identities and work. Such material should in general not be shared or discussed with anyone outside the designated review process without approval from the editors. Reviewers should not retain copies of submitted manuscripts and should not use the knowledge of their content for any purpose unrelated to the review process.
2. Constructive Critique
Reviewers should be courteous and respect the independence of authors. Their comments should be capable of withstanding public scrutiny. They should acknowledge positive aspects of the manuscript under review, highlight faults or negative aspects in a constructive manner and offer suggestions about how the manuscript might be improved. They should explain and support their judgments sufficiently to allow editors and authors to understand how they might be justified.
Reviewers may be chosen because they have expertise within the disciplinary or other perspective of the submitted manuscript or because of their general expertise in bioethics or a related field. In the former case, they should accept the assignment only if they have adequate expertise to provide an authoritative assessment.
4. Impartiality and Integrity
Reviewers’ comments should be based on objective and impartial considerations and should be free from personal and professional biases. Comments by reviewers with disciplinary expertise should address the intellectual merit, originality, and quality of the manuscript, and those by reviewers from outside of the manuscript’s disciplinary focus should address issues relating to the manuscript’s accessibility to nonspecialist readers in a dispassionate and disinterested manner.
Reviewers should not obtain professional, financial, personal, or other advantages from their access to material provided to them in the reviewing process.
5. Disclosure of Dualities and Conflicts of Interest
Reviewers must disclose dualities or potential conflicts of interest prior to agreeing to review a manuscript. Where a conflict of interests exists, the invitation to review should be declined.
Relevant dualities may relate to financial, professional, or personal interests. These may include the fact that the reviewer is working competitively in a closely related field or is actively involved in or preparing to undertake work of a similar nature to that under review.
6. Timeliness and Responsiveness
Reviewers should complete reviews in the time requested. If they are unable to meet a deadline for a review, they should decline to undertake the task or at least inquire whether extra time can be given to allow them to do so.
It is essential that reviewers act with the utmost propriety. The following are examples of reviewer impropriety:
- Displaying lack of respect for authors;
- Making personal or disparaging comments about an author;
- Lack of acknowledgement of conflicts or dualities of interest;
- Misrepresenting facts in a review;
- Unreasonably delaying the review process;
- Unfairly criticizing a competitor’s work;
- Breaching authors’ confidentiality;
- Proposing changes that appear to support the reviewer’s own work or hypotheses;
- Making use of confidential information to achieve personal or professional gain; and
- Using ideas or text from a manuscript under review.