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The Reviewer Scoresheet

Recommendation Options

Ultimately, it is the editor who will decide whether to accept, reject, or ask for revisions on a manuscript. Therefore it is useful for the reviewers to make a recommendation. Accept and reject are self-explanatory, but revision recommendations may need clarifying. Most commonly:


  • "Minor Revision" implies that publication is desirable and a limited number of changes will bring the manuscript up to scratch.
  • "Major Revision" implies that the manuscript needs considerable reworking prior to reconsideration.

Finding the line between revise and reject


In many cases, a major revision recommendation can be interpreted as a reject. Some journals, therefore, give several revision options in an attempt to distinguish those with a high chance of success from those that, even after substantial revision, are unlikely to be worthy of publication. This problem can also be addressed with a priority ranking (see below).


Questionnaire

A number of journals include a questionnaire in the reviewer scoresheet, covering general issues such as originality, validity, and language. Relevant issues may be linked to the journal’s specialist concerns and publication issues, e.g. journals with page constraints may ask reviewers whether manuscripts could be shortened.


In addition to the questionnaire, some journals have added a Manuscript Structure section to the reviewer scoresheet asking for opinions on the length of article, the number of tables, and the number of figures. These might be ranked "too much", "adequate," or "too little". Tables or figures can be more informative than a lot of text, so reviewers may advise on how to make more efficient use of space.


Priority Ranking

A priority scale is a useful way for the reviewer to distinguish top-quality articles. This may be a numerical scale (1-10) but it may be more helpful to use a descriptive scale ("Top Priority", "Low Priority", etc.). A breakdown of criteria might prove helpful.


For example, a reviewer might be asked to rate the contribution that the paper makes to the field or its relevance to contemporary issues. Justification for publication consists not only of the quality of the paper, but also its originality and significance.


Guidance

Every journal should give reviewers guidance about completing a reviewer scoresheet. This guidance should not just relate to how to complete the form but also give advice about what reviewers should be looking for. You should add this kind of guidance to the reviewer scoresheet and/or the review center. Some journals have chosen to write a 'reviewer guide,' which is sent out to new reviewers.


You can also direct reviewers to Wiley's Reviewer Resource Center.


A link to the journal's author guidelines can also be useful.