Information for Reviewers

How do I become a reviewer for IJTMB?

If you are interested in becoming a reviewer, please contact the Executive Editor, Ann Blair Kennedy, at eeijtmb@gmail.com.

Already a reviewer?

Thank you for agreeing to review a manuscript for the IJTMB.

This document will provide recommendations for undertaking a manuscript review. The recommendations will be followed by a series of questions pertinent to each section of the manuscript whose answers may be helpful in completing your review. These recommendations are based on research and best practices in peer review. You do not have to write a response to each point, but address those that require a comment or compliment. We do ask that all reviews include the opening statement and addresses the global comments. 

The IJTMB supports the development and use of robust, international reporting guidelines such as the CONSORT Statement for the reporting of randomized controlled trials. However, the IJTMB is also attracting newer authors and researchers to a new field of study and they may need more feedback than what these reporting guideline checklists can offer. Reporting topics raised in various reporting guidelines have been confirmed in our guidelines and more work is being planned to ensure continuity. Please feel free to use one of the available guidelines and submit it along with your review, which should add context to any concerns flagged by the guidelines, as well as address any additional feedback (positive and constructive) that would direct the authors to improvements in their manuscript. International reporting guidelines for different types of studies can be found at: http://www.equator-network.org.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Please verify:

  • That the article you have been asked to review matches your expertise. You may only be able to address some specific facets of the manuscript. That is okay. Just be clear about that in the review.
  • That you do not have a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest will not necessarily eliminate you from reviewing an article, but full disclosure to the editor will allow them to make an informed decision. A conflict of interest could exist with the authors, the institutions involved, their funding sources, or the type of work.
  • That you have enough time to conduct the review. Respond to the editor right away if you cannot conduct the review or complete it within the specified timeframe If you have not done many reviews, expect to read through the article once, take a break, and then spend, on average, about 3-5 hours for the review. You should be able to then take another break and re-read your review before submission. If time constraints may be an issue, please contact your editor. We can either give you some extra time if needed, or find another reviewer. This ensures manuscript review can be completed in a timely manner.

Ethical issues:

  • If there is concern of plagiarism, please let your editor know and include citations with as much detail as possible from the plagiarized work(s).
  • You have received the manuscript in confidence. You must not share, discuss, or use the information you are provided in any way except as authorized by your editor.  
  • Keep your own identity confidential. If you submit a Word document with your comments, or you have used track changes on the actual document, remember to make your work anonymous. That involves removing all identifiers in the document properties, and in the track changes preferences, remove “include reviewer…”

As you write your review:

  • Be helpful and encouraging in your review. The goal is a critique that can improve the quality of the manuscript through clear, direct statements regarding specific issues.
    • Number your comments, and quote the manuscript’s line numbers. This makes it easier for the author to specifically respond to a reviewer comment and for the editor to confirm what has been addressed.
    • Use proactive statements rather than questions.
    • Briefly state what the issue is, provide insight into deficiencies that you identify so that both editors and authors can understand the reasoning behind your comments, and if appropriate suggest how it may be resolved.
    • When appropriate, request references or explanation if statements seem based on personal opinion or experience.
    • Supportive comments are also encouraged, such as compliments about innovative approaches or well-stated portions of the study/manuscript.
    • If some statements are possibly based on region-specific practice or regulations, ensure the author has clarified that point.
  • You are NOT responsible for identifying spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors. If the content warrants publication, the author will work with an editor to correct those issues. If there are substantial issues in spelling and grammar, a single comment to the author is sufficient; you can include additional concerns in a note to the Editor. In some specific instances where interpretation may be unclear, you may suggest more effective wording or describe the problem in greater detail.

When you upload your review:

  • You will be asked to rate the paper for the editor. The author(s) does not see this. Be prepared to recommend: accept as is; revisions needed (managed by the Editor; will not require another round of peer-review); revise and resubmit (substantial work needed that requires further peer-review and evaluation); reject.
  • You will have the opportunity to provide comments that are for the editor only.

THE REVIEW

Note: for some types of manuscripts, the questions or points described below are not applicable (e.g., education articles may not have a recruited sample). Delete those questions or insert N/A.

Opening Statement:
Please provide a brief summary (3 to 6 lines) of the project, including its objectives and key points. If your expertise or comfort is limited to specific facets of the manuscript, state here that you will be limiting your review to those facets.

Global Comments

  • Is the research question/topic original, and appropriate to the IJTMB? How does it add to what is known in the field?
  • Is the scientific value clear, or are there substantive issues that call into question the value of the manuscript?
  • Is the study design sufficient to answer the research questions? Can it support/lead to the results and conclusions?
  • Is there consistency throughout the manuscript? For example, do conclusions stated in the Abstract agree with those in the Discussion; is the research question or hypothesis of the Introduction revisited in the Discussion?
  • Comment on the general organization of material in the manuscript. Is it clearly laid out? Does information flow appropriately? Are all the appropriate key elements present (i.e., headings applicable to the type of article)?
  • Was the article written well (global problems with sentence structure, style, or punctuation)? Concise? Were there pretentious words or too much jargon?
  • Were there overt biases, conflicts of interest, or other global issues of possible concern?

Specific Sections
 

Title

  • Is it succinct while adequately reflecting the content of the manuscript?

Abstract

  • Does it adequately reflect the key elements of each primary topic (Background/purpose, methods, results, conclusion) covered in the manuscript?
  • Is the conclusion overstated?

Introduction

  • Has sufficient information been supplied for readers to understand the key elements and relevance/significance of the study?
  • Do the authors use mostly primary research sources? Are they current?
  • Do they critically appraise these studies?
  • Are gaps in the research identified?
  • Do the gaps lay the foundation for undertaking the new study?
  • Was the research question stated clearly and concisely?

Methods

  1. Design
    • Was the study design clearly described?
    • Considering the inherent biases of this study design, did the researchers take steps to minimize the impacts of those biases?
    • For qualitative methods, were the design framework/theory adequately described?
  2. Subjects/participants
    • How and from where were subjects recruited? If this can lead to potential bias, are these addressed in the Discussion?
    • Were inclusion/exclusion criteria identified? If this can lead to potential bias, are these addressed in the Discussion?
    • How was sample size determined? Was a power analysis conducted to determine adequate sample size? How well is it described?
    • For intervention studies, were subjects randomized into groups? How was randomization achieved?
    • For qualitative methods, how were qualities of analysis rigour addressed (trustworthiness, consistency, transferability, and neutrality)?
  3. Interventions
    • Were the interventions (treatment(s), controls, questionnaires, interview guides, etc.) in the study fully described?
    • Was the timing (duration/frequency) of the interventions and measurement time points described? Were they appropriate and similar between groups?
    • Do you know who treated the subjects? Were these health care providers appropriate? Were their training and credentials described?
    • When more than one person provided the treatment, was there training to ensure consistency in treatment provision? Were there quality assurance/monitoring processes?
    • Were the investigators who were collecting the data blinded to the treatment group?
  4. Outcome measures & analysis
    • Were data collection methods described?
    • Were the outcome measures that were used appropriate (description supports their use)? Were they reliable and valid?
    • When more than one person documented the outcomes, was there training to ensure consistency in data collection? Were there quality assurance/monitoring processes?
    • Were confounding variables measured?
    • Are the methods and significance values that will be used to analyze the data described (statistical or qualitative processes)?
  5. Human subjects protection
    • Was there any mention of informed consent? Pictures involving subjects must also have consent for the use of the image.
    • Were there any ethical issues in the study?
    • Did an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approve the study?

Results

  • Are the results presented in a logical order and the same order as presented in the Methods section?
  • Were results reported for all outcome measures?
  • Were the demographics and clinical characteristics of the sample described?
    • In trials involving control and treatment groups, do they assess the baseline similarities and differences between the groups? Are any differences addressed in the discussion?
  • Did the tables/graphs facilitate understanding of the data? Do the text and data in the tables match?
  • Was the value of the calculated statistic as well as the statistical significance provided? Are they presented appropriately for the statistical test used?
  • For qualitative research, do the results match the research design? Do the quotes adequately support the results? Is the development and ordering of the results logical?

Discussion & Conclusions

  • Were the results presented in relation to the research question or hypothesis? Do the results justify the conclusion(s)?
  • Did the authors relate their key findings to the ‘bigger picture’ using other published sources?
  • Were the limitations of the study described?
  • Were suggestions made for continuation of research in the field?

References

  • From a broad perspective, are there missing authoritative materials or authors in the manuscript’s topic?
  • How up-to-date or out-of-date are the references? Given the topic, is there concern that more recent research material may be under-represented?
  • Is there a weighting toward non-peer-reviewed or peer-reviewed references, and might this be of a concern for the topic?
  • Are these references properly formatted?

Additional materials (tables, figures/images)

  • Do the tables and figures actually assist in understanding the material? (Are they needed, have they been designed to minimize interpretive effort).
  • Do the tables and figures stand on their own in providing information or are they repeating manuscript text?
  • Are they accurate (and are the outcome units as expected from the methods?)
  • Are they consistently presented?
  • When applicable, are they appropriately attributed? If photos of patients have been included, did you see a consent statement for the images? Is confidentiality maintained in the photo?