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How to peer review

Performing peer review

When performing peer review for UCL Open: Environment, firstly please provide a rating from one star (poor) to five stars (excellent). The following is a guide to help referees determine the level of rating.

After assigning the manuscript rating (see below), referees should submit a written review of up to 10,000 characters. Reviews should stick to the aims and objectives set out below. Try to structure the report as a list of major points followed by minor points and conclude with an overall impression of the manuscript. Keep in mind that the audience for the review includes Editors, authors and readers.

Aims and objectives of a review

Reviews should result from an in-depth and thorough evaluation of a research manuscript. Reviews should help readers decide if an article is scientifically sound, meets academic standards and is worth reading in its present form. They can either encompass the entire paper or just a single aspect.

We do not expect reviewers to decide if a manuscript is ‘worthy of publication’. Instead, the expert commentaries expressed at UCL Open: Environment should aim to assist authors and readers, and improve the value of the associated article. It can be very helpful to others to share experiences in reproducing experiments, methodologies, or code.

Reviewers should guide authors and encourage them to further improve their skills and research. Based on critical reception, authors may publicly engage the reviews and/or comments via the article landing page.

Of what does a review consist? Reviews consist of two parts – a General Factors Ratings, and the Written report.

General Factors Ratings

Level of importance:

Is the publication of relevance for the academic community and does it provide important insights? Does the work represent a novel approach or new findings in comparison with other publications in the field?

Level of validity:

Is the hypothesis clearly formulated? Is the argumentation stringent? Are the data sound, well-controlled and statistically significant? Is the interpretation balanced and supported by the data? Are appropriate and state-of-the-art methods used?

Level of completeness:

Do the authors reference the appropriate scholarly context? Do the authors provide or cite all information to follow their findings or argumentation? Do they cite all relevant publications in the field?

Level of comprehensibility:

Is the language correct and easy to understand for an academic? Are the figures well displayed and captions properly described? Is the article systematically and logically organised?

The Written Review Report

After assigning the manuscript rating (see above), reviewers are prompted to submit a written report (of up to 10,000 characters). Reports should stick to the aims and objectives set out above. Try to structure your review as a list of major points followed by minor points and conclude with an overall impression of the manuscript. Keep in mind that the audience for the review includes both authors and readers.