Peer review checklist
The steps below are not prescriptive but are intended to be a useful guide to maximise your time and the impact of your review of a research paper.
⬜ Step 1 – Responding to an invitation to review
Read the abstract to determine whether you can provide an informed review. The work should be in, or closely related to, your field of expertise, and you should be familiar with, and able to comment on, the techniques and analyses used. Following a superficial glance through the paper, you may find it useful to conduct a literature search to help place the work within the context of recent research. If your expertise relates to only part of the paper, please inform the handling Editor before conducting a thorough review.
You should consider whether you have the time to complete the review. Reviewers are given a two-week timeframe to submit their review. It is possible for reviewers to request an extension, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
If you are unable to review the manuscript, please suggest suitable alternative reviewers.
You should also declare any potential conflicts of interest (e.g., colleagues based at the same institution, close associates, collaborators, or family members).
Once you have accepted the invitation to review, please familiarise yourself with the reviewer submission form to understand how your comments will be submitted.
⬜ Step 2 – Detailed read
Title and Abstract
• Does it accurately reflect the contents of the paper?
• How relevant is the background provided?
• How relevant is the literature cited?
• Does it include a clear hypothesis and aims?
• Is it well-structured and logical in progression?
Materials and Methods
• Has the study been appropriately designed?
• Have adequate controls been used?
• Have the authors justified their choices? (e.g., cell lines and models, techniques)
• Is there sufficient ethical consideration and approval for animal studies (e.g., ARRIVE 2.0 guidelines) and/or human studies (if relevant)?
• Are the methods adequately described?
• Is there sufficient information for the study to be replicated?
• Have standard guidelines been followed?
• Is there appropriate and comprehensible statistical analysis?
Results, Data and Figures
• Are the data presentation appropriate and comprehensible?
• Are the data interpreted accurately?
• Have important data been omitted?
• Are titles and legends of figures/tables fully and accurately descriptive?
• Have you viewed the data presented in the Data Availability Statement (if relevant)?
• If you have any potential concerns about data or figures presented in a paper, please provide a confidential note to the handling Editor.
Discussion and Conclusion
• Is it well-structured and logical in progression?
• Have assumptions and limitations of the study been addressed adequately?
• Are the conclusions supported by the data presented?
• How relevant is the work? Comment on the novelty/originality of the research in the context of the journal’s scope.
• Assess how relevant the references are and note if pertinent sources (which you have read) have been omitted.
• Is any use of self-citation appropriate?
• Comment on the overall flow, use of language, and presentation of the paper.
⬜ Step 3 – Write your review (comments to the author)
Collate your notes and begin to draft your complete evaluation of the paper. It is important to be courteous and constructive, commending good points from the paper and justifying your specific concerns. Please consider how useful your comments would be if you were the author or handling Editor. You should also clearly state your limitations and which parts of the paper you addressed, if relevant.
It’s helpful to start by summarising your understanding of the authors’ work and their conclusions, before going into detail. Consider categorising your points into major and minor concerns, or strengths and weaknesses. Specific points should then be numbered for ease of reference. Support your arguments with pertinent references (which you have read) where possible.
Unless detrimental to the understanding of the paper, do not focus on grammatical corrections, but do mention if the language requires improvement. Portland Press journals can refer authors to a language editing service during revision and prior to publication. Imperfect grammar should not hold back an otherwise comprehensible and scientifically sound paper.
Concerns regarding the paper’s integrity should be communicated carefully and with justification. You should state what further data will be needed to verify the paper’s claims.
Conclude by making a final recommendation based on the level of revision required and whether these changes would make the paper suitable for publication. Ask for additional experimentation only if they are essential to justifying the paper’s conclusions.
Please note that the Biochemical Journal adheres to a Painless Publishing strategy, whereby the Editorial Board is committed to ensuring that, if revisions are recommended, extra experiments not necessary to support the conclusions of the paper will not be asked for.
⬜ Step 4 – Comments to the Editor
You will have the opportunity to send confidential comments to the handling Editor. Here you can provide additional guidance to assist the Editor in making their decision.
If you have concerns regarding the paper’s integrity, this is an opportunity to provide further detail.
If you think the paper is suitable for a related commentary article to be commissioned, please provide any additional detail and potential authors, if relevant. Please also comment on if you would be willing to write a commentary.
⬜ Step 5 – Submit your report
Read through all your comments and please be sure to complete all sections of the review submission form.
On behalf of Portland Press and The Biochemical Society, thank you for contributing your expertise as a valued member of our community of reviewers. If you have any queries, please contact the Editorial Office.