Bests Review Magazine - October 2011

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We ask reviewers not to identify themselves to authors while the manuscript is under consideration without the editor's knowledge. If this is not practicable, we ask authors to inform the editor as soon as possible after a reviewer has revealed his or her identity to the author. We deplore any attempt by authors to confront reviewer or determine their identities. Our own policy is to neither confirm nor deny any speculation about reviewers' identities.

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All Nature-branded journals offer a double-blind peer review option. Authors who choose this option at submission remain anonymous to the referees throughout the consideration process. As a matter of policy, we do not suppress reviewers' reports; any comments that were intended for the authors are transmitted, regardless of what we may think of the content.

On rare occasions, we may edit a report to remove offensive language or comments that reveal confidential information about other matters. We ask reviewers to avoid statements that may cause needless offence; conversely, we strongly encourage reviewers to state plainly their opinion of a paper. Authors should recognize that criticisms are not necessarily unfair simply because they are expressed in robust language.

It is editors' experience that the peer-review process is an essential part of the publication process, which improves the manuscripts our journals publish. Not only does peer review provide an independent assessment of the importance and technical accuracy of the results described, but the feedback from referees conveyed to authors with the editors' advice frequently results in manuscripts being refined so that their structure and logic is more readily apparent to readers.

Nature Research journals are appreciative of its peer-reviewers, of whom there are many tens of thousands. It is only by collaboration with our reviewers that editors can ensure that the manuscripts we publish are among the most important in their disciplines of scientific research. We appreciate the time that reviewers devote to assessing the manuscripts we send them, which helps ensure that Nature Research journals publish only material of the very highest quality.

In particular, many submitted manuscripts contain large volumes of additional supplementary data and other material, which take time to evaluate.

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We thank our reviewers for their continued commitment to our publication process. Much has been written, in Nature Research journals and elsewhere, on the peer-review system as a whole.

Alternative systems have been proposed in outline: for example, signed peer-review, blind peer-review and open peer review. The system has been exhaustively studied, reported on, and assessed -- both positively and negatively.

The goals of peer review are both lofty and mundane. It is the responsibility of journals to administer an effective review system. Peer review is designed to select technically valid research of significant interest. Referees are expected to identify flaws, suggest improvements and assess novelty. If the manuscript is deemed important enough to be published in a high visibility journal, referees ensure that it is internally consistent, thereby ferreting out spurious conclusions or clumsy frauds.

One problem with manuscript selection is the inherent tension between referees and authors.

Referees wish for only the most solid science to be published, yet when they 'switch hats' to that of author, they desire quick publication of their novel ideas and approaches. Authors of papers that blow against the prevailing winds bear a far greater burden of proof than normally expected in publishing their challenge to the current paradigm.

Veering too far in one direction or the other leads to complaints either that peer review isn't stringent enough, or that it is stifling the freshest research. It is the job of the editors to try to avoid both extremes. Journal editors do not expect peer review to ferret out cleverly concealed, deliberate deceptions. A peer reviewer can only evaluate what the authors chose to include in the manuscript.

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This contrasts with the expectation in the popular press that peer review is a process by which fraudulent data is detected before publication although that sometimes happens. We are continually impressed with peer review's positive impact on almost every paper we publish. Even papers that are misunderstood by reviewers are usually rewritten and improved before resubmission. Mistakes are made, but peer review, through conscientious effort on the part of referees, helps to protect the literature, promote good science and select the best.

Until a truly viable alternative is provided, we wouldn't have it any other way. All articles in this focus are open for readers' comments via a link at the end of each article. All contributions submitted to Nature Research journals that are selected for peer review are sent to at least one, but usually two or more, independent reviewers, selected by the editors. Authors are welcome to suggest suitable independent reviewers and may also request that the journal excludes one or two individuals or laboratories. The journal sympathetically considers such requests and usually honours them, but the editor's decision on the choice of referees is final.

Editors, authors and reviewers are required to keep confidential all details of the editorial and peer review process on submitted manuscripts. Unless otherwise declared as a part of open peer review, the peer review process is confidential and conducted anonymously; identities of reviewers are not released. Reviewers must maintain confidentiality of manuscripts. If a reviewer wishes to seek advice from colleagues while assessing a manuscript, the reviewer must consult with the editor and should ensure that confidentiality is maintained and that the names of any such colleagues are provided to the journal with the final report.

Regardless of whether a submitted manuscript is eventually published, correspondence with the journal, referees' reports and other confidential material must not be published, disclosed or otherwise publicised without prior written consent. Reviewers should be aware that it is our policy to keep their names confidential and that we do our utmost to ensure this confidentiality.

We cannot, however, guarantee to maintain this confidentiality in the face of a successful legal action to disclose identity. Nature Research journal editors may seek advice about submitted papers not only from technical reviewers but also on any aspect of a paper that raises concerns. These may include, for example, ethical issues or issues of data or materials access. Very occasionally, concerns may also relate to the implications to society of publishing a paper, including threats to security. In such circumstances, advice will usually be sought simultaneously with the technical peer-review process.

As in all publishing decisions, the ultimate decision whether to publish is the responsibility of the editor of the journal concerned. Advanced search. Skip to main content. Search My Account Login. Peer-review policy.

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On this page General information Online manuscript review Criteria for publication The review process Selecting peer-reviewers Access to the literature Writing the review Timing Anonymity Editing referees' reports The peer-review system Peer-review publication policies Ethics and security Nature Research journals' editorials General information The following types of contribution to Nature Research journals are peer-reviewed: Articles, Letters, Brief Communications, Matters Arising, Technical Reports, Analysis, Resources, Reviews, Perspectives and Insight articles.

To be published in a Nature Research journal, a paper should meet four general criteria: Provides strong evidence for its conclusions. Novel we do not consider meeting report abstracts and preprints on community servers to compromise novelty. Of extreme importance to scientists in the specific field. Ideally, interesting to researchers in other related disciplines. We ask reviewers the following questions, to provide an assessment of the various aspects of a manuscript: Key results: Please summarise what you consider to be the outstanding features of the work.

Validity: Does the manuscript have flaws which should prohibit its publication? If so, please provide details. Originality and significance: If the conclusions are not original, please provide relevant references. Please note that we expect our reviewers to review all data, including any extended data and supplementary information.

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Is the reporting of data and methodology sufficiently detailed and transparent to enable reproducing the results? Please include in your report a specific comment on the appropriateness of any statistical tests, and the accuracy of the description of any error bars and probability values. Conclusions: Do you find that the conclusions and data interpretation are robust, valid and reliable? Suggested improvements: Please list additional experiments or data that could help strengthening the work in a revision. References: Does this manuscript reference previous literature appropriately?

If not, what references should be included or excluded? Clarity and context: Is the abstract clear, accessible?

Bests Review Magazine - October 2011
Bests Review Magazine - October 2011
Bests Review Magazine - October 2011
Bests Review Magazine - October 2011
Bests Review Magazine - October 2011
Bests Review Magazine - October 2011
Bests Review Magazine - October 2011
Bests Review Magazine - October 2011
Bests Review Magazine - October 2011

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