Peer Reviewer Guidelines
The primary purpose of peer review is to provide Mental Health Clinician editors with feedback to facilitate making a decision regarding publication of the manuscript. Detailed information regarding your recommendation (either for or against publication) is essential for the editors as they may have to weigh the merits of conflicting reviews. The editors rely on peer reviewers to identify flawed conclusions in research or reviews to prevent publication of such information.
Aspects of a Quality Review
A quality peer review considers the manuscript based on scientific merit, aims, scope, advancement past previously published manuscripts on the same topic, significance in regard to advancing scientific knowledge and patient care as well as the degree to which the manuscript fits the journal.
First review the author guidelines to familiarize yourself with the requirements for the type of submission you are reviewing. Then complete an independent review of the manuscript and then discuss with your mentor to identify any further recommendations they may have.
Initial Considerations Before Beginning Your Review
Do you have any potential conflicts of interest?
Ensure that you have adequate time to provide a detailed peer review. Reviews of original research and therapeutic reviews may take several hours to complete. Do you have other obligations that might prevent a timely review? If so, contact the editor immediately so that the manuscript can be offered to other reviewers without a delay in the review process.
Is the topic within your area of expertise? If the topic is outside your expertise, are you able to spend the time to review relevant literature to allow you to provide informed review? If not, please notify the editors as soon as possible and decline the review.
Manuscripts should be maintained in confidence. It is prohibited to use or share data in manuscripts under review. All communication should go through the PeerTrack system or directly through the MHC editors. Authors should not be contacted directly.
Assessment of the Manuscript
Is the topic appropriate for the publication?
Is the information provided of value to the readership?
Is the article clear, appropriate, and descriptive enough?
Does the abstract represent material in the article?
Is the objective made clear?
If applicable, are the design and methods appropriate and in enough detail (ie could the study be replicated based on details provided)?
Are facts and interpretations free of errors? Scan and spot check calculations, if any.
If applicable, are the statistics appropriate?
Is the literature cited recent, from a reputable source, and complete? If you believe relevant citations have been omitted, provide a suggested citation in your comment. Is the interpretation of literature cited/conveyed appropriately?
If applicable, was research approved by Institutional Review Board?
Have the points been emphasized appropriately? Has the author avoided over or under-emphasizing different elements? If not, your comment should reference items to expand, condense, or omit.
Are the conclusions supported by data? Has all evidence of bias been addressed? Were confounding factors addressed (either how they were eliminated or how they could impact the results)? Is the statistical analysis appropriate? Do the statistics require statistician review?
Does the manuscript contain areas of redundancy? If so, how could it be shortened without compromising content?
Do tables and figures add to the value of the manuscript? If not, which one(s) could be eliminated? The body of the manuscript should not duplicate data from tables or figures.
Writing Your Review
The focus of peer review is to assess content rather than writing style. The editorial staff at the MHC will assist the authors with grammatical issues. Note sections/statements that are unclear and need to be reworded in order to clearly convey information to the reader.
Prior to providing specific comments, it is helpful to provide a general summary of your impression of the manuscript including strengths as well as weaknesses. If there are major issues that must be addressed, note them as such. Additionally, if you have minor feedback that is not mandatory for acceptance, but you think would improve the manuscript, note those comments as well.
Your review should follow the organization and flow of the manuscript. Comments should be notated so the editor and authors can readily identify the section on which you are commenting.. For example, “Page 1, Abstract, Results section, 1st sentence: The sentence is somewhat confusing. Consider: “ Mean BPRS scores significantly decreased from previous at each visit until week 4.”
Consider spot checking citations in the manuscript to make sure you agree that the reference is appropriate and the authors’ citation is accurate. Also be sure to check citations if you question about whether they are appropriate.
Comments to authors should always be professional and respectful. The primary aim of the review is to assist the editor in determining whether the manuscript should be published. The end goal of comments for authors is to help the author optimize the manuscript. Derogatory comments have no place in the peer review process.
For further guidance in the peer review process, refer to the article by Hoppin published in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medine.1
1. Hoppin, Jr., FG. How I review an original scientific article. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2002;166:1019-23. DOI: 10.1164/rccm.200204-324OE