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Peer Review and Manuscript Management in Scientific Journals

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Table of Contents



1. Introduction.

What should peer review do?.

What does peer review assume?.

What is this book trying to achieve?.

2. The peer-review process - how to get going.

The basic process.

The people involved in running the peer-review process.

Office organization.

Choice of system and procedures.

3. Manuscript submission and initial checks on completeness and suitability.

Submission guidance to authors.

Checking and logging of submitted manuscripts.

Transfer to editor.

Initial assessment of suitability and rejection without external review.

Manuscripts with language problems.

4. The full review process.

Identifying and selecting appropriate reviewers.

Finding reviewers.

Getting the manuscript and associated material to the reviewers.

Monitoring review progress.

Receiving and checking of returned reviews.

Back-to-back manuscripts.

Dealing with enquiries on manuscript status.

5. The decision-making process for reviewed manuscripts.

The organizational structure for decision making.

The decision-making process.

Checks to be made before communicating decisions to authors.

Communicating the decision to the authors.

Rebuttals and appeals from authors.

Dealing with revisions.

Dealing with resubmissions.


Decision making to consistent standards and the problem of availability of space.

Special considerations in decision making: dual-use research and the possible misuse of information.

6. Moving to online submission and review.

How do you choose an online system?.

How to prepare to move to online working.

The launch and transition period.

What to expect after going live online.

Problems that may be encountered and how to deal with them.

A final note.

7. Reviewers - a precious resource.

Thanks and feedback to reviewers.

Reviewer training.

Ways to recompense reviewers.

How to develop and maintain reviewer loyalty.

Recognition of peer review as an accredited professional activity.

8. The obligations and responsibilities of the people involved in peer review.

Authors - their obligations and responsibilities.

Editors - their obligations and responsibilities.

Reviewers - their obligations and responsibilities.

Editorial office staff - their obligations and responsibilities.

Conflicts of interest - what they are and how to deal with them.

Moral dilemmas.

9. Misconduct in scientific research and publishing - what it is and how to deal with it.

What types of misconduct can occur?.

How should cases of alleged or suspected misconduct be handled?.

Where can you turn for help?.

What sanctions can be imposed as a penalty for misconduct?.

Correcting the literature.

Dubious or fraudulent data remaining in the literature.

The future.

Appendix I The Golden Rules and the Peer-Review Good Practice Checklist.

Appendix II Examples of checklists, forms, guidance for reviewers and editorial letters.

Appendix III Useful websites.

Appendix IV Alternative models of peer review.


About the Author

Irene Hames moved from cell biology research into scientific publishing and worked for many years on scholarly journals. She was the founding managing editor of a large international science journal for 20 years, running the editorial office and managing the peer-review process. She now works as an independent editorial consultant. She is frequently called upon to give talks and advise on editorial issues and has been a member of a number of working parties on peer review.


"...a godsend to the rookie editor taking the driving seat for the first time and feeling understandably daunted by the responsibility. Statements like 'no editorial office should be without it', 'an essential resource' or 'indispensable' unfortunately sound like cliches. In the case of this book, however, they are all true. In fact, I think I will need a second copy for when one of my colleagues pinches this one!" (Learned Publishing).

"By writing a book on peer review and manuscript management, Irene Hames has helped millions of readers, thousands of authors and hundreds of reviewers and editors to reach a higher standard for scientific publications. I benefited greatly reading the book and warmly suggest every scientist to have it available as a reference book on his or her book shelf when thinking about putting together a manuscript or when invited to serve the community as a reviewer." (Journal of Sedimentary Research)

"Hames' aim is to provide a manual to help editors, their editorial colleagues, and staff, and to give practical guidance on all aspects of peer review, creating an awareness of the issues involved and potential problems. This she has achieved, taking the reader from manuscript submission, through the peer review process, to decision making... [Included are] some 80 pages of appendices. These extremely useful checklists, forms, guidance, and sample letters provide salient information, and act as an excellent resource for all involved in the publication of scientific journals. Hames offers essential instruction for editors at all levels. Reviewers, even authors, would profit from reading this book. But it will be of most use to those starting a new position in the publication of scientific journals; from academic Editor-in-Chief to Editorial Assistant, it should be prerequisite reading." (The Lancet)

"... this comprehensive, authoritative, and useful book represents a precious resource for would-be editors wishing to learn every aspect of manuscript management and peer review. Established journals wishing to review and update administrative practices, and even authors and peer reviewers may find it helpful and informative on many aspects of the work performed in editorial offices, which often is shrouded in mystery." (Journal of the American Medical Association)

"...a timely and well-informed book. Newly appointed editors will find masses of useful information and practical tips. Seasoned editors will be inspired to reassess and refine their own procedures." (Polar Research)

"An excellent and must-read book for journal editors ... It will also serve as a valuable resource for anyone interested or involved in the peer-review process." (PsycCritiques)

"Irene Hames....writes engagingly, and, from the viewpoint of her extensive experience, provides a practical handbook that describes ways of coping with the many day-to-day problems that must be faced by the editor and office staff of a scientific journal...I strongly recommend it..." (Editing Matters)

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