Before you accept
On this page: Before you accept | Reviewer role and responsibilities | Timeliness | Competing interests | The benefits of reviewing
Before you accept
The following questions should help you decide whether to accept an invitation to review for a Nature Reviews journal:
- Do you understand the role and responsibilities of a reviewer?
- Does your scientific expertise qualify you 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 to provide guidance to authors and to decide whether to publish submitted manuscripts.
Your reviewer report
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 article that fall outside of your expertise and that you did not or could not evaluate, please note this in your comments to the editor. In your report, you are welcome to recommend a particular course of action; however, the final decision on the manuscript rests with the editor. 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 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.
We inform reviewers of our decisions and share the other reviewers’ reports with them for transparency. Reviewing for Nature Reviews journals is by default anonymous but you are welcome to sign your report if you wish to reveal your identity to the authors.
The majority of successful submissions to Nature Reviews 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.
Some 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 will consider reviewing future iterations of that manuscript until a final decision is made.
A manuscript submitted to one of the Nature Reviews 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 two weeks. Exact deadlines depend on the journal and might be longer to account for seasonal holidays or conferences. A prompt response to invitations to peer review, even if negative, as well as timely delivery of the final reports, will help authors get their work assessed quickly.
We do understand that reviewers are very busy, however, and we do not want to 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 article. 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 writing an article 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, you should consider whether any of the following might influence your assessment of the manuscript:
- Your opinions about an author or an institution could compromise your objectivity
- Topics discussed in the manuscript could contribute to 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 manuscript
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.
While most of our content is commissioned, some articles that we consider for publication have been proposed by authors. In these cases, we cannot exclude that the manuscript has been considered and sent out to peer review by other journals before being submitted to us. Having reviewed the manuscript for another journal does not constitute a competing interest, provided that you feel you can objectively assess the article 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 review manuscript can help you keep abreast of developments in your field and related areas, provides insights into an expert’s thoughts on a field 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, most Nature Reviews journals ask reviewers if they would like their names acknowledged on the published paper provided that the author of the article opts-in to this initiative, as a means of recognizing the peer reviewers’ contributions to the work (see section on Peer review initiatives).