PROMOTING ACCESS TO AFRICAN RESEARCH

AJOL Recommended Peer-Reviewer Guidelines

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Journals may copy and adapt this content to suit their needs. Strong peer reviewing is vital, and these guidelines can help to improve the quality of your journal when applied rigorously.

A. Duties of Reviewers

  • Importance of Peer Reviewing

    • Peer review is an essential part of formal scholarly communication, and lies at the heart of the scientific method. Peer review assists the editor in making editorial decisions and through the editorial communications with the author may also assist the author in improving the paper. Peer Reviewers need to recognize the importance of their role and commit to contributing high quality work to the process of publishing scholarly research.
  • Promptness

    • Any selected referee who feels unqualified to review the research reported in a paper, or knows that its prompt review will be impossible should notify the editor and excuse themselves from the review process. If a selected referee agrees to review a paper, they should then adhere to timelines set by the editor.
  • Confidentiality

    • Any papers received for review must be treated as confidential documents. They must not be shown to or discussed with others except as authorized by the editor.
  • Standards of Objectivity

    • Reviews should be conducted objectively. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Referees should express their views clearly with supporting arguments.
  • Study Ethics

    • Reviewers are encouraged to comment on ethical questions and possible research misconduct raised by submissions (e.g. unethical research design, insufficient detail on patient consent or protection of research subjects, including animals).
  • Acknowledgement of Sources

    • Reviewers are encouraged to be alert to redundant publication and plagiarism. Reviewers should identify relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors. Any statement that an observation, derivation, or argument had been previously reported should be accompanied by the relevant citation. A reviewer should also call to the editor's attention any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge.
  • Disclosure and Conflicts of Interest

    • Unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted manuscript must not be used in a reviewer's own research without the express written consent of the author. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage. Reviewers should not consider manuscripts in which they have conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers.

B. Questions to guide the reviewer in assessment of the paper:

Please provide examples and evidence for responses, do not simply answer yes or no.
  1. Topic and content:

    1. Is the topic relevant for the journal?
    2. Is the content important to the field?
    3. Is the work original? (If not, please give references)
  2. Title:

    Does the title reflect the contents of the article?
  3. Abstract:

    To what extent does the abstract reflect aspects of the study: background, objectives, methods, results and conclusions?
  4. Introduction / Background:

    Is the study rationale adequately described?
  5. Objectives:

    Are the study objectives clearly stated and defined?
  6. Methodology:

    1. To what extent is the study design appropriate and adequate for the objectives?
    2. Is the sample size appropriate and adequately justified?
    3. Is the sampling technique appropriate and adequately described?
    4. How well are the methods and instruments of data collection described?
    5. How well are techniques to minimize bias/errors documented?
  7. Ethical Consideration:

    If there are issues related to ethics, are they adequately described? (For human studies, has ethical approval been obtained?)
  8. Analysis and results:

    1. Are the methods adequately described?
    2. Are the methods of data analysis appropriate?
    3. Do the results answer the research question?
    4. Are the results credible?
    5. Is statistical significance well documented (e.g. as confidence intervals or P-value)?
    6. Are the findings presented logically with appropriate displays and explanations?
  9. Discussion:

    1. How well are the key findings stated?
    2. To what extent have differences or similarities with other studies been discussed and reasons for these given?
    3. Are the findings discussed in the light of previous evidence?
    4. Are the implications of these findings clearly explained?
    5. Is the interpretation warranted by and sufficiently derived from and focused on the data and results?
  10. Conclusion(s):

    Do the results justify the conclusion(s)?
  11. References:

    1. Are the references appropriate and relevant?
    2. Are they up to date?
    3. Are there any obvious, important references that should have been included and have not been?
    4. Do the references follow the recommended style?
    5. Are there any errors?
  12. Writing:

    1. Is the paper clearly written?
    2. Is the paper presented logically (e.g. correct information in each section, logical flow of arguments)?
    3. Are there problems with the grammar / spelling / punctuation / language?
This document was compiled using the following resources all accessed 15 March 2010:
AJOL African Journals Online