Guidelines for Reviewers

  1. Inasmuch as the reviewing of manuscripts is an essential step in the publication process, scientists have an obligation to do a fair share of reviewing.
  2. A reviewer should act promptly, submitting a report in a timely manner. Should a reviewer receive a manuscript at a time when circumstances preclude prompt attention to it, he or she should decline through the online peer review system immediately, and discard any hard copies of the manuscript that have been printed. Any suggestions for alternate reviewers at this time would be very helpful.
  3. A chosen reviewer who feels inadequately qualified to judge the research reported in a manuscript should do the same.
  4. A reviewer should recognize that a manuscript under review is a confidential document. Reviewers should not use or disseminate unpublished information, arguments, or interpretations contained in an unpublished manuscript, except with the consent of the author. During review, the manuscript should neither be shown to nor discussed with others except, in special cases, to persons from whom specific advice may be sought. In that event, the reviewer maintains responsibility for ensuring confidentiality. The reviewer should inform the editor of others who make significant contributions to a review.
  5. A reviewer of a manuscript should judge the quality of the manuscript objectively and respect the intellectual independence of the authors. A review should be as constructive and helpful as possible; in no case is subjective personalized criticism appropriate in a review.
  6. Reviewers should explain and support their judgment adequately so that editors and authors may understand the basis of their comments. Unsupported assertions by reviewers are of little value and should be avoided.
  7. A reviewer should be alert to failure on the author's part to cite relevant work by other scientists. Any statement that an observation, derivation, or argument has been previously reported should be accompanied by the relevant citation.
  8. A reviewer should call to the editor's attention any substantial similarity between the manuscript under consideration and any paper submitted to or published in a journal or other widely accessible form of publication. When evaluating the similarity between a manuscript and a conference paper, please refer to Optica Publishing Group's guidelines on expanded conference papers. The editor's attention should also be directed by the reviewer to perceived fragmentation of publication by the author(s).
  9. A reviewer should be sensitive to the appearance of conflict of interest when the manuscript under review is closely related to the reviewer's work in progress or published. If in doubt, the reviewer should decline promptly, advising the editor of the possible conflict of interest. Further, if the relationship between the reviewer and an author would bias judgment of a manuscript, then the reviewer should also decline. Again, any alternate reviewer suggestions would be most appreciated.
  10. Optica Publishing Group’s single-anonymous review policy means that the reviewer’s identity should not be revealed to the author. However, if they have a reason to want to reveal their identity to the authors, the reviewer may consult with the editor to obtain permission to do so.

We have developed the following helpful material that provides an overview of the objectives and steps for reviewing a scientific manuscript with best practices for ensuring a constructive and ethical review of scientific research.