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Guidelines for Reviewers

“We are sincerely grateful to scholars who give their time to peer-review articles submitted to MDPI journals. Rigorous peer-review is the corner-stone of high quality academic publishing.”
— The MDPI editorial team.

Please check the Instruction for Authors and Aims and Scope of the journal if necessary

Invitation to Review

Manuscripts submitted to MDPI journals are reviewed by at least two experts. Reviewers are asked to evaluate the quality of the manuscript and to provide a recommendation to the external editor on whether a manuscript can be accepted, requires revisions or should be rejected.

We ask invited reviewers to:

  • accept or decline any invitations quickly, based on the manuscript title and abstract;
  • suggest alternative reviewers if an invitation must be declined;
  • request an extension in case more time is required to compose a report.
As part of the assessment, reviewers will be asked:
  • to rate the originality, significance, quality of the presentation, scientific soundness, interest to the readers, overall merit and English level of the manuscript;
  • to provide an overall recommendation for the publication of the manuscript;
  • to provide a detailed, constructive review report;

Benefits of Reviewing for MDPI

Reviewing is often an unseen and unrewarded task. At MDPI, we offer the following as acknowledgment for the valuable work of our reviewers:
  • Reviewers who provide timely and substantial comments will receive a discount voucher code entitling them to a reduction in the article processing charge (APC) of a future submission to an MDPI journal. Vouchers are valid for two years and multiple vouchers can be redeemed against the same article.
  • For selected journals, MDPI has partnered with Publons to offer reviewers credit for their work. We are now working together with Publons to give credit for historical reviews as well. For more information click here.
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Potential Conflicts of Interests

We ask reviewers to inform the journal editor if they hold a conflict of interests that may prejudice the review report, either in a positive or negative way. The editorial office will check as far as possible before invitation, however we appreciate the cooperation of reviewers in this matter. Reviewers who are invited to assess a manuscript they previously reviewed for another journal should not consider this as a conflict of interest in itself. In this case, reviewers should feel free to let us know if the manuscript has been improved or not compared to the previous version.

Confidentiality and Anonymity

Reviewers should keep the content of the manuscript, including the abstract, confidential. Reviewers must inform the Editorial Office if they would like a student or colleague to complete the review on their behalf.

MDPI journals operate single or double blind peer review. Reviewers should be careful not to reveal their identity to the authors, either in their comments or in metadata for reports submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF format.

Some journals offer authors the possibility to publish review reports with their paper and for reviewers to sign their open review reports, however this will only be done at publication with your express permission. If this is the case, it will be noted in the message inviting you to review. In all other cases, review reports are considered confidential and will only be disclosed with the explicit permission of the reviewer.

Note that reviewers are given access to all review reports for manuscripts they review via the online submission system after the final decision has been made.

Timely Review Reports

MDPI aims to provide an efficient and high quality publishing service to authors and to the scientific community. We ask reviewers to assist by providing review reports in a timely manner. Please contact the editorial office if you require an extension to the review deadline.

Peer-Review and Editorial Procedure

All manuscripts sent for publication in our journals are strictly and thoroughly peer-reviewed by experts (this includes research and review articles, spontaneous submissions, and invited papers). The Managing Editor of the journal will perform an initial check of the manuscript’s suitability upon receipt. The Editorial Office will then organize the peer-review process performed by independent experts and collect at least two review reports per manuscript. We ask our authors for adequate revisions (with a second round of peer-review if necessary) before a final decision is made. The final decision is made by the academic editor (usually the Editor-in-Chief of a journal or the Guest Editor of a Special Issue). Accepted articles are copy-edited and English-edited.

Note that your recommendation is visible only to journal editors, not to the authors.

Rating the Manuscript

Please rate the following aspects of the manuscript:

  • Originality/Novelty: Is the question original and well defined? Do the results provide an advance in current knowledge?
  • Significance: Are the results interpreted appropriately? Are they significant? Are all conclusions justified and supported by the results? Are hypotheses and speculations carefully identified as such?
  • Quality of Presentation: Is the article written in an appropriate way? Are the data and analyses presented appropriately? Are the highest standards for presentation of the results used?
  • Scientific Soundness: is the study correctly designed and technically sound? Are the analyses performed with the highest technical standards? Are the data robust enough to draw the conclusions? Are the methods, tools, software, and reagents described with sufficient details to allow another researcher to reproduce the results?
  • Interest to the Readers: Are the conclusions interesting for the readership of the Journal? Will the paper attract a wide readership, or be of interest only to a limited number of people? (please see the Aims and Scope of the journal)
  • Overall Merit: Is there an overall benefit to publishing this work? Does the work provide an advance towards the current knowledge? Do the authors have addressed an important long-standing question with smart experiments?
  • English Level: Is the English language appropriate and understandable?
Manuscripts submitted to MDPI journals should meet the highest standards of publication ethics:
  • Manuscripts should only report results that have not been submitted or published before, even in part.
  • Manuscripts must be original and should not reuse text from another source without appropriate citation.
  • For biological studies, the studies reported should have been carried out in accordance with generally accepted ethical research standards.

If reviewers become aware of such scientific misconduct or fraud, plagiarism or any other unethical behavior related to the manuscript, they should raise these concerns with the in-house editor immediately.

Overall Recommendation

Please provide an overall recommendation for the publication of the manuscript as follows:

  • Accept in present form
The manuscript makes a significant and unique contribution to current knowledge, is clearly presented, and describes the methodology with sufficient details to be verifiable.
  • Minor revisions
The manuscript could be acceptable for publication, but would either benefit from specific changes to improve overall quality or from corrections to minor methodological errors (that do not change the conclusions of the paper). Reviewers may request that the revised manuscripts are sent to them for another review.
  • Major revisions
There is some merit in the article, but it fails to meet all the requirements for publication. Reviewers should clearly and specifically mention areas for improvement and, if possible, provide references to substantiate the comments made. A revised version of the article will usually be sent to the reviewer for further comment.
  • Reject
The article has serious flaws, makes no original contribution, or the amount of work required to make it publishable could not be completed in a reasonable amount of time. Reviewers should assist the authors by suggesting how the manuscript could be altered to bring it to a publishable standard. An opportunity to revise the manuscript may be offered to the authors at the discretion of the external editor. In this case, the reviewer will usually be invited to comment on the revised version.

Note that your recommendation is visible only to journal editors, not to the authors.

Review Report

Review reports should contain:

  • A brief summary (one short paragraph) outlining the aim of the paper and its main contributions.
  • Broad comments highlighting areas of strength and weakness. These comments should be specific enough for authors to be able to respond.
  • Specific comments referring to line numbers, tables or figures. Reviewers need not comment on formatting issues that do not obscure the meaning of the paper, as these will be addressed by editors.

Note that MDPI journals follow several standards and guidelines, including those from the ICMJE (medical journals), CONSORT (trial reporting), TOP (data transparency and openness), PRISMA (systematic reviews and meta-analyses) and ARRIVE (reporting of in vivo experiments). See the Publishing Standards and Guidelines page or contact the editorial office for more details. Reviewers familiar with the guidelines should report any concerns they have about their implementation.

Your comments should not include an indication of whether you think the article should be accepted for publication. For further guidance about writing a critical review, please refer to the following documents:
  1. COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Committee on Publication Ethics. Available online.
  2. Hames, I. Peer Review and Manuscript Management in Scientific Journals: Guidelines for Good Practice. Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford, UK, 2007.
  3. Writing a journal article review. Australian National University: Canberra, Australia, 2010. Available online.
  4. Golash-Boza, T. How to write a peer review for an academic journal: Six steps from start to finish. Available online.

Editing of Review Reports

MDPI editors never edit reviewer comments intended for the authors. Reviewers are thus asked to make fair comments and to use appropriate language. Confidential comments to the editors can be made in a dedicated box on the review form.

MDPI Review Reports Sharing

Reviewers may suggest that a manuscript may be more appropriate for publication in another MDPI journal. To save time and effort, authors would have the possibility to request the transfer of review reports to another MDPI journal. The full list of journals published by MDPI can be found here: http://www.mdpi.com/about/journals.

Volunteer to be a Reviewer for MDPI journals?

If you are interested in reviewing articles for one or more of our journals, please register your contact details, including your ORCID identifier, institutional affiliation, a short CV, and 5-6 keywords in line with your expertise at the following link: https://susy.mdpi.com/volunteer_reviewer/step/1

The managing editors of the selected journals will send you a notification once approved.

Prospective reviewers may also be interested in the Publons Academy, which provides training in how to conduct peer review.

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