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Peer review is vital to the quality of published research. Read on to learn more about peer review at IEEE.


What is peer review?

Peer review is defined as the "critical assessment of manuscripts submitted to journals by experts who are not part of the editorial staff."1

The most common types of peer review are single blind and double blind review. In single blind, the names of the reviewers are not shared with the author but the reviewers are aware of the author’s identity. In double blind, neither the author nor the reviewers are aware of each others' identity. In both models, the anonymity of the reviewer ensures that the reviewer can give an honest and impartial evaluation of the manuscript.

IEEE policy requires at least two qualified reviewers to evaluate a submission before the editor can reach a decision.


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Why peer review is important

Ninety-one percent of authors think that peer review improved the quality of their article.2

Reviewers help authors hone key points, identify and resolve errors, and generate new ideas. Peer review ensures the integrity of science by weeding out invalid or low-quality research.


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Serving as a peer reviewer

Editors seek to match the topics covered in an article submission with potential peer reviewers who are experts in those topics. After identifying potential reviewers, the editor will send out invitations to review that include information about the submission such as the title and abstract to help the invited reviewer determine whether or not to accept the review invitation.

When you receive a review invitation, you should consider whether you have sufficient expertise in the article’s subject area and whether you can complete the review by the deadline provided in the review invitation. If the answer to either of those questions is "no," you should promptly decline the invitation. Suggestions of other potential reviewers are always appreciated by the editor.

If you decide to accept the invitation, follow the instructions in the email to signal your acceptance; you will subsequently receive additional information on how to access the article and conduct review. Most journals use an online submission system to facilitate peer review.

Once you have accepted the review invitation and gained access to the article, begin to evaluate the article with the following questions in mind:

  • Is the study well designed and well executed?
  • Is the existing body of relevant work acknowledged?
  • Are the results interpreted and reported correctly? Are all other possible interpretations duly considered?
  • Are the results overly preliminary or speculative?
  • Does the research contribute to the body of scientific knowledge in the field?
  • Is the article appropriate for this journal?
  • Is the article written in clear, concise language?

Follow the journal’s instructions for submitting feedback, suggestions, and a recommended decision. Remember that your commentary should always be thorough and professional.


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How to become a reviewer

Joining a list of eligible reviewers is easy. Simply select a few journals in your subject area, visit those journals’ online submission web sites (accessible via each journal’s homepage on IEEE Xplore®) and create a user account. Provide keywords about your area of expertise in your user account so that the editor can match submitted manuscripts with your area of expertise. You can also contact the editor directly to offer your services by going to the About tab on a journal homepage on IEEE Xplore and looking for the editor’s email address.


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Ethics in peer review

Peer review is a system based on trust. Each party—the author, the editor, and the reviewer—relies on the others to operate professionally, honestly, ethically, impartially, expediently, and confidentially. 

Responsibilities of the editor:

  • Select, invite, and manage reviewers
  • Ensure a fair and speedy peer review process
  • Synthesize disparate peer review reports and arrive at a final decision
  • Maintain confidentiality by preserving the reviewer’s anonymity and by safeguarding the unique contributions of the author’s work
  • Disclose any conflicts of interest
  • Uphold all policies of the journal, including ethical policies 

Responsibilities of the reviewer:

  • Provide a prompt, thorough, and impartial review of the manuscript
  • Give constructive feedback with reasonable suggestions and professional tone
  • Alert editor to any suspected ethical issues
  • Maintain confidentiality by safeguarding the unique contributions of the author’s work
  • Disclose any conflicts of interest 

Responsibilities of the author:

  • Accurately report research findings
  • Ensure manuscript meets all journal requirements and adheres to ethical standards
  • Revise manuscript as per suggestions from editor and reviewers (or give a reason why not)
  • Disclose any conflicts of interest 

Any questions from authors or reviewers about the peer review process should be directed to the Editor. 

1International Committee of Medical Journal Editors
2Sense About Science Peer Review Survey 2009


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