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Reviewer’s Guide

Peer review is essential for filtering out poor quality

articles by assessing the validity and integrity of the research
We value the work done by peer reviewers in the academic community,
who facilitate the process of publication and drive research within their
fields of expertise

Why should you be a peer reviewer?

• Contribute to the development of your field Tip:
• Stay up-to-date in your field Register with Publons
• Improve your ability to research and write papers to track, verify and
• Increased collaboration with journal editors, which may showcase your peer
result in new opportunities such as invitation to join an review contributions
editorial board
• Get an understanding of the publication process
• Get recognition for your peer review
Peer review is a largely
• Reviewers are the quality controllers of the research reciprocal endeavour
world - they make sure the research being published is
and you will benefit at
good quality
some stage from the
Types of peer review work of peer reviewers
• Single-blind peer review – the name of the reviewer is hidden on your own paper.
from the author
• Double-blind peer review – names are hidden from both
reviewers and the authors
• Open peer review – everyone is identified
How does peer review work?
Most SAGE Journals use the SAGE Track system, powered by ScholarOneTM.
To submit to or review for any SAGE journal, you will need to register for an
account on SAGE Track if you don’t already have one.
Note:The journal editor may need to
approve your application to review
Tip: Increase your chances of
being selected to review by
providing an institutional email
Paper submitted 1 address, adding keywords to your
account, or linking your account
with your ORCID

2 Checked for compliance

with journal guidelines

Fits within the

journal’s aims & 3 Sent out for peer review

Desk Reject Tip: the invitation to review will

include an abstract of the paper;
4 read this before making your
decision to accept or decline.
If the paper is outside of your
expertise, you may need to
Peer reviewers update your keywords. You may
selected by keywords* 5 also wish to suggest alternative
reviewers if you are unable to
*Tip: make sure the keywords in review the paper.
your SAGE Track account are as
full and accurate as possible to
ensure only suitable manuscripts
6 Email sent to reviewer
are sent to you to review
Decline: If you don’t have the
time or particular knowledge
Accept: Please 7 to complete the review, or
take note of the you have a bias or conflicts of
interest that would prevent you
deadline set in from giving a fair review, please
the confirmation decline the invitation. If you
email and advise simply ignore the email, you will
8 be sent automatic follow-ups
the editor if you
and it will delay the paper’s
encounter delays review process
recommendations 9 Paper will appear in
to Editor your ‘Reviewer Centre’
in SAGE Track
Basic principles of Reviewing
Conflict of Interest
• Only agree to review manuscripts within your area of expertise Personal, professional
for which you can return your comments in a timely manner
or financial relationship
• Respect the confidentiality of the process
with any party involved
• Be objective and constructive in your review in the manuscript
• Declare all conflicts of interest

See the COPE website for full ethical guidelines for reviewers

So, you’ve agreed to review a paper...

now what?

01 Initial Impression
Read the whole paper through before you start your in-depth review
to get an initial impression

What to look out for and What to keep an eye on

comment on • Does the title properly Note:
• Is this paper relevant for the reflect the subject of the It is not the reviewer’s
journal? paper?
job to proof-read or
• Is this research significant • Do the keywords reflect
suggest extensive
within the field? the content and are they
up-to-date? For example, grammatical revisions
• Is the work presented
novel? Does it add to the are the keywords broad to a paper. If the
enough to lure in readers meaning of the paper
subject area?
with a broad interest in the is lost due to extensive
topic but narrow enough
to accurately reflect the
grammatical errors,
contents of the paper? recommend the
• Is the paper an appropriate paper for language
length? editing, via services
• Are the key messages short like SAGE Language
and clear? Services (https://
02 Sections of the Paper
Abstract Ethical standards
If the paper has failed to Look out for:
After reading the abstract,
you should already adhere to best practice Major flaws in data,
understand the aims, key standards, for example, tables, figures and
data and conclusions of the paper is not properly
the manuscript. If you referenced, it does not
• Insufficient data
don’t, make a note of this require further review and
should be rejected • Statistical variations
• Unclear or
Results contradictory data
• Is it clear, short and simple?
The authors should report the
• Does it set the scene i.e.
results of all tests noted in the
explain the background to • Have they cited all relevant/
Methods section:
the study? important published
• Demographics – age, papers?
• Does it set out and justify
gender, side, site etc.
the aim of the study? • Can you follow the
• Objective data reasoning of the paper?
• Does the literature
• Subjective data
review include the latest
research? • Complications of treatment The authors should compare
their data with previous
• Ask yourself: do the
published studies to:
numbers make sense?
Methods • Confirm similarities i.e.
• Are the results clearly
Academic research should validate the study further
formatted and presented?
be rigorous and replicable • Explain differences
Are SI units and other
– is all the relevant detail
notation correct, and are
included in this section?
graphs, axis heading, Conclusion
data labels readable? Finally, the authors should
• Have all necessary
procedures been followed
Remember: • The limitations of the study
(for example, health and If a test is not stated in • The “take home” message
safety of participants in the the Methods section then as a short conclusion
study)? the results may not be
• Have the correct guidelines reported in the Results
been followed? (e.g.
Discussion • Does the conclusion
address the question/s
• Are the methods used • This should not be a posed? Is it consistent
appropriate? repetition of the results with the evidence and
• It should put the results arguments presented?
of the study in context i.e. • Is the conclusion
how does it fit in with what contradicted by the
we already know?
author’s evidence?
• Do the authors achieve
their stated aim (in the
03 Your Feedback
Giving advice to authors
and suggesting revisions Tip:
• Demonstrate that you have
Number your comments – this will make it easier for the
read the paper. You may
wish to include an opening author and editor to refer back to.
paragraph summarising the
Making a recommendation Issues to consider
• Be objective, specific and
constructive Most journals will ask you • Are there major flaws i.e.
to recommend whether a factual errors?
• Be clear about what needs
paper should be accepted, • Are there problems with the
to be added or revised
rejected or revised (major presentation of the data or
• Give clear and detailed or minor revisions), and you arguments?
comments to the Editor may be asked to look over
the changes made to a paper • Is any of the information
• Give constructive
to ensure that improvements unclear or ambiguous?
comments to the author/s
to help them with any have been adequately made • Has similar work been
revisions Have an overall view of the published?
• If appropriate, make quality of the paper and • Will the work be impactful?
suggestions about consider if it is good enough • Are there any ethical
additional literature that to be published in the journal issues?
the author might read to
improve their manuscript* Remember to keep all
activity, content and Be as specific and
comments relating to the detailed as you can;
paper confidential brief comments to an
Some journals allow
Editor will not help
you to make two sets
them make a decision
of comments, one of
which is directed to the
attention of the editor
only and the other that
the editor can send on *As per COPE guidelines, reviewers should not suggest
to the author to allow that authors include citations to the reviewer’s work
you to direct questions merely to increase their citation count or to enhance the
or recommendations visibility of their work; suggestions must be based on
appropriately valid academic or technological reasons
04 Ethics and Responsibility
Consider the following
before undertaking a Tip:
We encourage reviewers to refer to the Guidelines for
• Think carefully about your Peer reviewers available on the Committee on Publication
own potential conflicts
of interest relating to the Ethics (COPE) website prior to carrying out the process.
paper before undertaking
the review.
SAGE takes issues of What to do if you suspect
• Notify the editor if you
become aware of the copyright infringement, there are problems with
identity of the author during plagiarism or other an article
blind peer review. breaches of best practice If you suspect any of the
in publication very following problems with any
• Be careful not to make
judgements about the
seriously. article you are reviewing,
paper based on personal, Where an article, for example, contact the journal editor to
financial, intellectual biases is found to have plagiarised discuss the situation without
or any other considerations other work or included delay. You should keep all
than the quality of the third-party copyright material information about such
research and written without permission or with matters confidential and not
presentation of the paper. insufficient acknowledgement, discuss them with colleagues
or where the authorship of the other than the journal editor.
• You may wish to involve
article is contested, we would • You suspect that the paper
junior researchers in the
encourage reviewers to alert has been either published
review of an article as it
the journal editor to this. or submitted to another
can be good experience
for that person. However, journal.
you should ensure that you The journal reserves the right • You suspect that the paper
obtain permission from to take action including, but is duplicating the work of
the journal Editor prior to not limited to: others.
accepting the invitation to • publishing an erratum or • You suspect that there
review. corrigendum (correction); might be problems with
• Submit the names of • retracting the article; the ethics of the research
everyone involved in doing conducted.
the review to the Editor so • taking up the matter with the
head of department or dean • You suspect that there
that the journal records might be an undeclared
accurately reflect the of the author’s institution
and/or relevant academic conflict of interest attached
review process as it was to the paper (editors might
conducted. bodies or societies;
have more information
• or taking appropriate legal about this than you do so
action. it is best to check).
SAGE Reviewer Gateway us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/journal-reviewer-gateway
Committee on Publication Ethics publicationethics.org/
Reviewer Rewards uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/reviewer-rewards
Get Credit for your Reviews with Publons publons.com/home/

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