Before you accept
The following questions should help you decide whether to accept an invitation to review for a Nature Research journal:
- Do you understand the role and responsibilities of a reviewer?
- Are you technically qualified to review (aspects of) the article?
- Are you able to provide the report in a timely fashion?
- Do you have any competing interests?
- What are the benefits for you in reviewing a manuscript?
If you decide to accept, you should also read Our editorial policies, which you must comply with.
Reviewer role and responsibilities
Through their assessment of the validity of submitted manuscripts and the constructive feedback they provide, peer reviewers play an essential role in maintaining the integrity of the scientific literature. Reviewer feedback helps authors strengthen their work, and is used by editors when deciding whether to publish submitted manuscripts.
Your reviewer report
The primary responsibility of peer reviewers is to help our editors assess whether a study is technically sound, and we value detailed comments on the methodological approaches used in the manuscript, the data presented and their analysis/interpretation. A high-quality reviewer report should be constructive and contain a thoughtful evaluation of the work, with comments supported by sound scientific reasoning. If there are aspects of the study that fall outside of your expertise and that you did not or could not evaluate, please note this in your comments to the editor. We also find it valuable if reviewers express their opinion on the potential significance of the study to the field and on the interest that the work is likely to generate in and beyond the field. However, it is not necessary to indicate whether the paper is of the standard that you would expect for the journal. In your report, you are welcome to recommend a particular course of action; however, the final decision on the manuscript rests with the editor.
We inform reviewers of our decisions at each stage of the process and share the other reviewers’ reports with them. Reviewing for Nature Research journals is by default anonymous but you are welcome to sign your report if you wish to reveal your identity to the authors. You are welcome to comment on the other reviewers’ reports — by emailing the editor — if you have any feedback on the points they have raised. All recommendations are taken into consideration, but if your recommendation is not followed that doesn't reflect a lack of confidence in your judgement. Experts often disagree and we must differentiate between editorial and technical comments and weigh up conflicting advice, keeping in mind the perspectives and expertise of all reviewers, any feedback we’ve received from the authors on how they might address the concerns, and the standards of the journal.
The majority of successful submissions to Nature Research journals will require revision before they are suitable for publication, and reviewer feedback provides a guide for authors on what to do to improve their manuscript. In cases where we’ve received mixed feedback on a manuscript, or where we might need further clarification of a point raised in review, we might ask you to elaborate on your comments or those of the other reviewers prior to making our editorial decision.
Most of our published papers undergo more than one round of review before being accepted, and we strive for consistency in the review process. Therefore, we ask that when you agree to review a manuscript, you commit to reviewing future iterations of that manuscript until a final decision is made.
A manuscript submitted to one of our journals might not meet the expectations for publication in that title, but could be well-suited for another at Nature Research. To help authors publish their work quickly, we offer a transfer service between our journals. Please note that if a manuscript you reviewed is transferred by the authors to another Nature Research journal, your identity and report will also be transferred, where it will be assessed by the in-house editorial team. If you are asked to review a revised version of the manuscript post-transfer, we ask that you do your best to adapt your expectations to the standards of the new journal in relation to perceived significance and interest.
As a service to our authors, we make every effort to deliver timely decisions, and our editors will request that a reviewer returns their report typically within one to two weeks. Exact deadlines depend on the journal and might be longer to account for seasonal holidays. A fast response, even if negative, will help authors get their work assessed quickly.
We do understand that reviewers are very busy, however, and we do not sacrifice the quality of review for speed. If you are interested in reviewing the manuscript, but need additional time beyond the deadline suggested by the editor, please let us know. In most cases, we can grant reasonable requests to extend the deadline. If you encounter unexpected delays after accepting, please let the editor know as soon as you can. We will work with you to arrange an extension or let you know if we can proceed without your report.
Our editors research potential reviewers carefully before sending an invitation to review to avoid potential competing interests. However, some competing interests might not be apparent to us, so we ask that you are transparent about factors that may affect your objectivity in assessing the study. In the following cases you should inform the editor prior to accepting their invitation:
- You are or recently were employed at the same institution as any of the authors
- You are or recently were collaborating with any of the authors on a different project
- You are engaged in competing research on a very similar topic
- You are in a close or an adverse personal relationship with any of the authors
In addition to the above, consider whether any of the following might influence your assessment of the manuscript:
- The results of the study could trigger personal or institutional financial gains or losses
- The manuscript’s publication could affect your professional standing
- Your political stance might influence your interpretation of the results
- Your opinions about an author or an institution could compromise your objectivity
If you have a competing interest, please decline the invitation to review. If you are unsure of whether a factor is a competing interest, contact the editor for guidance. If a competing interest becomes clear only after you have begun a review, notify the editor as soon as possible to excuse yourself from the review process.
Having reviewed the manuscript for another journal does not constitute a competing interest, provided that you feel you can objectively assess the study with the standards of our journal in mind. Please discuss your prior experience of the manuscript with the editor if you have any questions or concerns, without having to disclose confidential details such as the journal you reviewed for.
The benefits of reviewing
Reviewing a manuscript can help you keep abreast of developments in your field before they are published, and offers insight into the review process that will help you with your own submissions. As a peer reviewer, your contribution to supporting scientific progress is widely appreciated. Many institutions take peer review experience into consideration when making hiring and promotion decisions, and we offer all reviewers the option of downloading a certificate detailing their peer review experience with us. Additionally, some of the Nature Research journals ask reviewers if they would like their names acknowledged on the published paper, as a means of recognizing the peer reviewers’ contributions to the work (see section on Peer review initiatives).