To round up our Peer Review Week 2019 celebrations, we interviewed Prof Ariane Herrick (University of Manchester and Salford Royal Foundation Trust, UK). As well as being Vice President of SRUK, Ariane has completed over 130 reviews for Rheumatology. We asked her what makes a great peer review.
Peer reviews should always be instructive to authors. When writing your review, try to start with a positive comment. The best peer reviews demonstrate that the reviewer has read the manuscript carefully – peer review takes time. The reviewer should point out the strengths and weaknesses and make a fair assessment of these. Areas for improvement should be clearly indicated, but it is also important to explain how these improvements can be made.
If you are not qualified to comment on certain aspects of a manuscript, say so. For example, if you feel that an expert in statistics should review the manuscript because you are not qualified to do so, mention this in your review.
Watch out for careless errors, such as discrepancies between the abstract and the full text. These are often symptomatic of a lack of attention to detail and should raise alarm bells.
In the future, editorial teams should work to protect authors from poor quality and opinionated peer reviews. I would also like to see recently retired colleagues given the opportunity to review more. These colleagues may have more time to dedicate to producing a quality peer review.
What does quality in peer review mean to you? Let us know on Twitter @RheumJnl and @RheumatologyUK! Remember to use #PeerRevWk19.