Research code UMCG

Peer review of manuscripts and research proposals

Peer review, the evaluation of scientific articles and research proposals by other researchers, is an important pillar of scientific research. Every researcher actively contributes to this. A review can have a major impact on the authors or applicants of the reviewed work and should therefore be prepared carefully, taking into account the following rules of conduct. More information can be found in the Ethical guidelines for peer reviewers of the COPE.

Researchers who are invited to review the work of others shall:

  • Decline the invitation to review when there is a conflict of interest, for example arising from a current or recent (within the last three years) professional, personal, or financial relationship with one or more of the authors or applicants (see Personal Interests Code and Explanatory Notes ZonMw & NWO 2020). In case of doubt, the researcher should inform the editor of the journal or the subsidy provider of this potential conflicting interest.
  • Decline the invitation to review if they do not have sufficient expertise in the relevant domain to evaluate the manuscript or application carefully.
  • Not delay the review process by exceeding the deadline for submission.
  • Ensure that each comment is factually correct, specific, and scientifically substantiated.
  • Not only describe what could be improved
    but also indicate the strengths of the article
    or project proposal.
  • Where possible, provide suggestions for improving the work.
  • Not communicate with third parties about the authors or content of the reviewed work.
  • Not contact the authors or applicants directly.
  • Inform the journal editor or subsidy provider if they suspect scientific misconduct.
  • Be very reticent to suggest including their own publications in a manuscript.
  • Not use the IP they are exposed to for their own purposes without the permission of the authors.

Senior researchers should teach junior researchers to properly review manuscripts or research proposals, for example by having them work along with them on a review and having them write a review under supervision several times. Useful information can be found online in the Reviewer training materials on the website of the British Medical Journal.

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Elizabeth Koier Policy Advisor Research Office