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What do editors and reviewers look out for in a paper?

Editors | Reviewers | Researchers
What do editors and reviewers look out for in a paper?

Editors and peer reviewers are important contributors to the success of your paper. It’s therefore vital to understand what they may be looking out for in your manuscript.

As an author, you will have spent weeks, months or perhaps even years preparing your manuscript for submission. Whilst you will know the ins and outs of your article, the fate of the manuscript, whether it be a research paper, review or case report, will lie in the hands of an impartial selection of individuals who are experts in their respective fields, but have no prior knowledge of your manuscript. We are of course referring to our Academic Editors and peer reviewers. The essential cogs in the machine that turns your manuscript into a peer-reviewed publication. It’s therefore vital to understand who our editors and reviewers are and what they may be looking out for in your manuscript. 

Every Academic Editor on our editorial boards at Hindawi is carefully chosen, each an expert in their respective field and having a record of published articles of their own. Our editors are here to ensure that the quality and scope of the journal are maintained while also ensuring a fair and thorough peer review process for prospective authors.

All papers submitted to any journal at Hindawi undergo routine checks during our screening stages before getting the green light to be sent to one of our editors for initial assessment. Here the editor will see the paper for the first time and will check your article on a number of items, such as scientific accuracy, language, and whether it is in scope for the journal. This is a fundamental part of the process and should be of note to authors. The conclusions in your article may be sound, but, for example, have you also ensured that the language and structure of your paper is consistent with our editorial guidelines? Eva Amsen describes in further detail the most common reasons that papers are rejected at this stage. 

Once an editor has decided that your paper is suitable to proceed to the next stage, they will then be responsible for selecting and inviting suitable peer reviewers to review the manuscript. This may do this using their own suggestions, or using our reviewer suggestion tools. While the editor will have an overarching knowledge of the topic area of the journal, it is the reviewers who are selected for their specific expertise and understanding of the area of research that your paper covers.

Our reviewers will use their expertise to perform a comprehensive review of your paper, providing the editor with an informed recommendation on how the paper should proceed. Peer reviewers will advise editors by thoroughly checking the rationale and methodology, and will verify that the conclusions and statements made in the paper are well supported, so that the readers can understand your findings. This means that several revisions may be needed before your paper can be published. Your manuscript may also be rejected due to concerns identified by reviewers. Once all of the peer reviewers have submitted their reports, the Academic Editor will be able to make a decision on whether your paper will need minor or major revisions, be rejected at this stage, or if it is now ready for publication. Your paper may only need to go through the peer review cycle once, or it may need to go through multiple times depending on the initial feedback that the editor receives and the way your paper progresses after each revision.

Peer reviewers are not just here to provide a simple reject or accept decision for your paper but are, most importantly, here to help improve it where necessary. When an author receives a reviewer report asking for revisions, they should take each comment into account and provide a detailed response to each item in their rebuttal letter. This will help to demonstrate to the editor how the paper has been improved and will assist them in determining if the paper is now ready for publication. In certain cases, the editor may send the paper back to the same reviewer to confirm this, especially where major changes have been made. 

Editors and reviewers may also comment on the literature that you’ve referred to in your references, and may comment on their quality and relevance. Our editors and reviewers are also strongly encouraged to refer to the reporting guideline that you have used in your article, and so it may be helpful to check our reporting guidelines page when preparing your manuscript in anticipation of your manuscript being assessed against these criteria.

Our editors and peer reviewers are incredibly important contributors to the success of your paper, helping to ensure readers understand your findings so that they can use and cite your article in their own research. Together, this helps to reach our collective goal of aiding the advancement of scientific research.

This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration adapted from Adobe Stock by David Jury.

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