Writing a report

The primary purpose of referees' reports is to provide the editor with the information needed to reach a decision, but they should also instruct the authors on how to strengthen their manuscript if revision is a possibility.

Organize your review so that an introductory paragraph summarizes the major findings of the article, gives your overall impression of the paper, and highlights the major shortcomings. This paragraph should be followed by specific, numbered comments, which, if appropriate, may be subdivided into major and minor points.

The report should answer the following questions:

  • is the manuscript suitable for the Journal (see FTB Aims and Scope)?
  • is it written according to the Journal's instructions (see Manuscript Organization)?
  • have the authors previously published a similar paper and are there already many reports on the same topic published by other authors?
  • what are the major claims and how significant are they?
  • are the claims novel and convincing?
  • are the claims appropriately discussed in the context of earlier literature?
  • is the study of interest to more than a specialised audience?
  • does the paper stand out in some way from the others in its field?
  • are there other experiments that would strengthen the paper?

For manuscripts that may merit further consideration, it is also helpful if referees can provide advice on the following points where appropriate:

  • how the clarity of the writing might be improved (without necessarily going into specific details of spelling and grammar).
  • how the manuscript might be extended or shortened.
  • how to do the study justice without overselling the claims.
  • how to improve the presentation of methodological detail so that the experiments can be reproduced.
  • what experiments the authors could conduct to strengthen the research.

The manuscript should be rated according to interest, novelty, technical quality and suitability. Additional comments to the editor need to include:

  • a definite recommendation regarding publication (which should be clearly marked in the Referee´s note)
  • an assessment of how much any suggested additional experiments would improve the manuscript, and how difficult they would be to complete within a reasonable timeframe (3 months)
  • in cases where the manuscript is unacceptable in its present form, an opinion about whether the study is sufficiently promising to encourage a new submission in the future.

Reviewers´ recommendations are gratefully received by the editor; however, since editorial decisions are based on evaluations derived from several sources, reviewers should not expect the editor to consider every recommendation.


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