Writing your report

Thank you for agreeing to review for a Nature Research journal. Your feedback will be very valuable, and we thank you in advance for your time.

If you are interested, please see our overview of the editorial process.

Criteria for publication

Your report is vital in helping our editors decide if the manuscript meets the journal’s criteria for publication, and we ask you to consider the following questions when you write your report:

  1. Is this the best method, or likely to be one of best methods, with which to answer some scientific questions?
  2. Is this a sound method?
  3. Is it likely other researchers will want to use a protocol on this?
  4. Would publication of a protocol on this method provide additional information that would be useful for people using and applying the method that is not already available in the scientific literature, for example in the primary research papers published using this method?
  5. Is the proposed protocol sufficiently different from previously published Nature Protocols to warrant publication? The editor will let reviewers know of any possibly overlapping protocols.
  6. Is the proposed protocol sufficiently different from previously published protocols you are aware of?
  7. If this method is well established, are the proposed authors’ authorities in this area?

We also ask reviewers to answer the following questions:

  1. Are the title and abstract/summary appropriate for this protocol?
  2. Do the applications of the protocol described in the introduction seem reasonable?
  3. Are there any other potential applications for the protocol the author could discuss?
  4. Are all the materials and equipment needed listed? Basic materials or equipment that a lab using the type of protocol would have already does not need to be listed, e.g. pipette.
  5. Do you think the steps listed in the procedure would lead to the described outcome?
  6. Are the steps listed in the procedure clearly explained?
  7. Are any important steps missing from the procedure?
  8. Are appropriate controls suggested?
  9. Are all the critical steps highlighted?
  10. Is the time-line realistic?
  11. Is the troubleshooting guide, if included, thorough? If it is not included would it be a useful inclusion?
  12. Is there any additional information that it might be useful to include?
  13. Are the anticipated results reasonable, and if so, are they useful to readers?
  14. Are any important references missing?
  15. Are the references included useful?
  16. Could a competent PhD/graduate student in this discipline successfully implement the protocol with minimum guidance?
  17. Could the protocol be improved by additional figures or tables, such as diagrams of equipment set up, schematics of protocol stages, etc.

Wherever possible, when considering the above questions, it would be helpful if reviewers could supply guidance as to how the protocol could be improved to address any issues the reviewer highlights. Please note that we do not expect reviewers to perform the procedure described, as we appreciate this is not practical in the time frame required for prompt publication.

Elements of a reviewer report

In your report, please comment on the following aspects of the manuscript.

Key results

Your overview of the key messages of the study, in your own words, highlighting what you find significant or notable. Usually, this can be summarized in a short paragraph.

Validity

Your evaluation of the validity and robustness of the data interpretation and conclusions. If you feel there are flaws that prohibit the manuscript’s publication, please describe them in detail.

Significance

Your view on the potential significance of the conclusions for the field and related fields. If you think that other findings in the published literature compromise the manuscript’s significance, please provide relevant references.

Data and methodology

Your assessment of the validity of the approach, the quality of the data, and the quality of presentation. We ask reviewers to assess all data, including those provided as supplementary information. If any aspect of the data is outside the scope of your expertise, please note this in your report or in the comments to the editor. We may, on a case-by-case basis, ask reviewers to check code provided by the authors (see this Nature editorial for more information).

Reviewers have the right to view the data and code that underlie the work if it would help in the evaluation, even if these have not been provided with the submission (see this Nature editorial). If essential data are not available, please contact the editor to obtain them before submitting the report.

Analytical approach

Your assessment of the strength of the analytical approach, including the validity and comprehensiveness of any statistical tests. If any aspect of the analytical approach is outside the scope of your expertise, please note this in your report or in the comments to the editor.

Suggested improvements

Your suggestions for additional experiments or data that could help strengthen the work and make it suitable for publication in the journal. Suggestions should be limited to the present scope of the manuscript; that is, they should only include what can be reasonably addressed in a revision and exclude what would significantly change the scope of the work. The editor will assess all the suggestions received and provide additional guidance to the authors.

Clarity and context

Your view on the clarity and accessibility of the text, and whether the results have been provided with sufficient context and consideration of previous work. Note that we are not asking for you to comment on language issues such as spelling or grammatical mistakes.

References

Your view on whether the manuscript references previous literature appropriately.

Your expertise

Please indicate any particular part of the manuscript, data or analyses that you feel is outside the scope of your expertise, or that you were unable to assess fully.

Providing constructive feedback

We ask reviewers to approach peer review with a sincere intention to help the authors improve their manuscripts. Nearly all submissions have weaknesses to be addressed: the best and most constructive reports suggest specific improvements; such feedback can be used by authors to improve their manuscript to the point where it might be suitable for acceptance. Even in instances where manuscripts are rejected, your report will help authors interpret the editor’s decision and improve their work prior to submission elsewhere.

You should be direct in your report, but you should also maintain a respectful tone. As a matter of policy, we do not censor the content of reviewer reports; any comments that were intended for the authors are transmitted, regardless of what we may think of the content. On rare occasions, we may edit a report to remove offensive language or comments that reveal confidential information about other matters.

Confidential comments to editors

Your comments to the authors should contain all feedback pertaining to the scientific evaluation of the manuscript, as detailed above. Confidential comments to the editor may be the appropriate place to discuss sensitive information or opinions, including any potential ethical issues with the work, or information that cannot be shared with other reviewers, such as any previous interaction with the manuscript at another journal, but should in no way contradict the comments to the authors.

Submitting your report

We strongly prefer that you submit your report using the link we provided in the emails containing the instructions, as opposed to via email. If you experience any issues, please contact our Editorial Assistant for assistance.