Confidentiality – Materials under review should not be shared or discussed with anyone outside the review process unless deemed necessary and approved by the editor. Materials submitted for peer-review is a privileged communication that should be treated in confidence by the reviewer, taking care to guard the author’s identity and work. Reviewers should not retain copies of submitted manuscripts and should not use the knowledge of their content for any purpose unrelated to the peer review process.
Constructive critique – Reviewer should acknowledge positive aspects of the material under review, identify negative aspects constructively, and point out any areas of improvement required. Reviewer should explain and support his or her judgment clearly so that editors and authors can understand the basis of the comments. Reviewer should ensure that an observation or argument that has been previously reported be accompanied by a relevant citation and should immediately alert the editor when he or she becomes aware of duplicate publication.
Competence – Reviewers who realize that their expertise is limited have a responsibility to make their degree of competence clear to the editor. Reviewers need not be expert in every aspect of an article’s content, but they should accept an assignment only if they have adequate expertise to provide an authoritative assessment. A reviewer without the requisite expertise is at risk of recommending acceptance of a submission with substantial deficiencies or rejection of a meritorious paper. In such cases, the reviewer should decline the review.
Impartiality and integrity – Reviewer comments and conclusions should be based on an objective and impartial consideration of the facts, exclusive of personal or professional bias. All comments by reviewers should be based solely on the paper’s scientific merit, originality, and quality of writing as well as on the relevance to the journal’s scope and mission, without bias on the race, ethnic origin, sex, religion, or citizenship of the authors.
Disclosure of conflict of interest – If reviewers have any interest that might interfere with an objective review, they should either decline the role of reviewer or disclose the conflict of interest to the editor and ask how best to address it.
Timeliness and responsiveness – Reviewers are responsible for acting promptly, adhering to the instructions for completing a review, and submitting it in a timely manner. Failure to do so undermines the review process. Every effort should be made to complete the review within the time requested. If it is not possible to meet the deadline for the review, then the reviewer should promptly decline to perform the review or should inquire whether some accommodation can be made to resolve the problem.