Guide for reviewers

Guide for reviewers

Guide for reviewers

Developing a familiarity with the editorial process and giving careful, objective reviews of the work of others in a manageable way has many benefits including:

  • contributing to the knowledge base by producing peer-reviewed work that is published
  • learning about areas related to your field of expertise
  • being exposed to fresh ideas
  • learning about the discipline area by reading the other reviewers comments and your own exploration of the topic
  • enhancing your own writing and manuscript production skills

It shows academic leadership and willingness to mentor colleagues. These qualities are likely to be well regarded by selection panels.
Clearly, reviewers must balance the demands of reviewing manuscripts submitted for publication to Macquarie Matrix with their own need to publish. For Macquarie Matrixyou will be asked to review a maximum of four papers a year. The editorial executive will maintain a database for each reviewer of the areas of expertise or interest, how many reviews have been completed, the date of last review, and any special requests (e.g. no reviews in January because of conference leave). No reviewer will have more than one manuscript to be reviewed at any one time, except in special circumstances.

How do I sign up to be a reviewer?

Email student.journal@mq.edu.au with ‘reviewer nomination’ in the subject line. In your email, please provide:

  • your title and qualifications
  • your contact details
  • your affiliation (department, faculty, institution)
  • your areas of expertise and/or interest
  • details of previous reviewing experience

Will I be identified to contributors to the Journal?

No. The review process is a confidential one, and reviews are returned to contributors without identifying the reviewers. You will be assigned a reviewer number to use for identification purposes on the reviewer report. At the end of the process, reviewers receive a copy of the Journal decision letter and other reviewers' comments. Reviewers will be identified in the Acknowledgment section of the last edition of the Journal each year, but without reference to the manuscript(s) reviewed.

What are the selection criteria for papers to be accepted for publication?

  • Originality and interest: does this paper add to our existing body of knowledge; and are the findings noteworthy?
  • Soundness: are the conclusions supported by the research data and the methods used to collect it?
  • Readability: can it be easily read by an intelligent audience who are not necessarily experts in the field?
  • Meets guidelines: for length, style and ethical framework.

Guidelines for reviewers

Please use the report template provided. The Journal of the American Water Resources Association website has good tips on how to write a helpful review. We have reproduced them here, with a few changes for our context.

1.  Place your comments in context 
Good reviewers say what they think, and why. They exhibit confidence in their evaluations. Below is an example of why more information should be provided:
Originality and Interest: does this paper add to our existing body of knowledge and are the findings noteworthy?

  • Reviewer A: "OK."
  • Reviewer B: "OK. The literature in this field is somewhat sparse, but I believe the authors have included the major references to establish their work."
  • Reviewer C: "Providing only three references seems inadequate to me."

Reviewers A and B give the same bottom line, "OK." But is Reviewer A really knowledgeable about the literature? We don't know from the comment. Reviewer B gives us a context to understand his or her evaluation. B's comment, moreover, helps us evaluate Reviewer C's, perhaps avoiding us sending the authors on a fruitless search for more citations.

2. Offer solutions to problems 
If you find something wrong with a paper, give the authors an idea how they can satisfy your objection. Example:

  • Reviewer A: "The presumed connection between nitrogen and phosphorus is unconvincing."
  • Reviewer B: "The presumed connection between nitrogen and phosphorus needs to be demonstrated by establishing a correlation between samples."

Reviewer A is open ended. In responding, the author may or may not provide sufficient evidence, perhaps necessitating a third round of reviews. Reviewer B has, more helpfully, specified what the author needs to do.

3. If you see something, say something 
Reviewers are our front line of defence against academic fraud. If you think you have seen a paper somewhere else, if the correlation seems too good to be true, or if you just sense something is wrong, let us know. We take all these warnings, even hunches, seriously. They are investigated discreetly but firmly. Reviewers' identities are not revealed to contributors.

4. Look at ideas, not grammar 
English is not the first language for an increasing number of our authors. Please try to look beyond the grammar to see if ideas are clear and logic makes sense. The copy editors will fix the grammar. That said, if a paper is so badly written you cannot make sense of it, do not waste your time reviewing it further; send it back to us and recommend rejection, or resubmission after rewriting.

Please resist the urge to copy edit. Doing so risks obscuring your more important comments about the merit of the paper.

5. Understand the overall recommendation 
Reviewers sometimes differ widely in their overall evaluations. Here is some more guidance. We will use the following responses to authors:

  1. The work is accepted as is, with no changes required.
  2. The work is accepted, pending minor changes; these changes are to be made within four weeks.

The authors will probably be instructed to treat reviewers¿ comments as suggestions, not requirements. Reviewers probably will not be asked to review the paper again.

  1. The work is accepted, provided that the comments made by the reviewers are fully addressed.

This means the reviewers found something that needs to be fixed. The author/s will be required to address your comments and you will be asked to review the revised paper. The authors of the work submit a revised copy, as well as the original, with a covering letter which details how the work has been modified.

 D. The work is not accepted, but resubmission is invited based on comments made by the reviewers to improve the standard of work. Typically we will allow two months for this to occur. The author will be required to address your comments. If you feel the scope of revisions required cannot be achieved in this timeframe, consider rejecting the paper. If the author resubmits, you will be asked to review the revised paper. The authors of the work submit a revised copy, as well as the original, with a covering letter which details how the work has been modified.

 E. The work is not accepted, based on comments of the Editor, and/or reviewers, and/or the Editorial Board.

Keep in mind that the other reviewers may (and often do!) see things differently. The Editor (and/or the Editorial Board) takes all reviews into account when deciding on an appropriate course of action

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