CODE OF ETHICS FOR REVIEWERS
The Editorial Board of SPB seeks to provide submitters with high quality, thoughtful, constructive feedback on their work. We expect Reviewers to take time and care in their reviews to avoid common feedback shortcomings:
- (a) reviews that are purely evaluative, without giving any constructive suggestions for improvement;
- (b) flippant, even discourteous reviews that insult the Author;
- (c) reviews that demonstrate that the Reviewer has not, in fact, read the submitted manuscript.
These shortcomings should be avoided in reviewing both original submissions and re-submissions. Below, we outline principles to keep in mind for reviews in SPB: Reviews should be substantive and accurate. Reviewers should communicate their honest scholarly judgement of the submission based on its merits and contribution to the extant scientific literature. Reviews should not contain emotional elements and should demonstrate respect for the Author, regardless of the quality of the submission. This is particularly important for young Authors (graduate students, new doctors) who might be discouraged from further publishing by reviews that are discourteous, aggressive, or indicate a lack of intellectual engagement.
Reviews should be objective: Reviews should contain specific, documentable information about the strengths and the weaknesses of the submission.
Reviews should be constructive: Reviews should provide suggestions for improving the submission. These suggestions should be structured in a way that will allow the Author to refer to them when resubmitting (e.g., as a numbered list). In reviewing a re-submission, Reviewers should check whether and how all of these points were addressed by the Author.
Reviews should be impartial: Reviewers who have a conflict of interest resulting from financial, personal, or other relationships with the Author(s) or others connected to the submission should not agree to review a given manuscript.
Reviews should be timely: If a review cannot be made within the timeline given, the Reviewer should contact the Editor as soon as possible to allow for alternative arrangements.
Reviews should end with an unambiguous recommendation: The Editorial Board does not provide a special form; each review should, nonetheless, conclude with one of four recommendations:
- Acceptance with minor revisions – when minor, specifically noted corrections can be made (in this case, the Editor checks whether these corrections have been made in a resubmission)
- Re-submission after major revisions – when corrections are likely to take longer, specific suggestions can be made to the Author(s), who will then have 2 months to incorporate them into a re-submission, which will be sent out to the same Reviewers; resubmissions received after 2 months will be treated as new submissions
- Rejection – when a Reviewer concludes that a re-submission would be impossible within the time constraints.