Reviewer Ethical Guidelines
Being a reviewer Professional responsibility
Authors who have benefited from the peer review process should consider becoming peer reviewers as a part of their professional responsibilities. In order to assign appropriate reviewers, editors must match reviewers with the scope of the content in a manuscript to get the best reviews possible. Potential reviewers must provide the JDFSL with personal and professional information that is accurate and a fair representation of their expertise, including verifiable and accurate contact information. When approached to review, agree to review only if you have the necessary expertise to assess the manuscript and can be unbiased in your assessment. It is better to identify clearly any gaps in your expertise when asked to review.
Ensure you declare all potential competing, or conflicting, interests. If you are unsure about a potential competing interest that may prevent you from reviewing, do raise this. Competing interests may be personal, financial, intellectual, professional, political or religious in nature. If you are currently employed at the same institution as any of the authors or have been recent (e.g., within the past 3 years) mentors, mentees, close collaborators or joint grant holders, you should not agree to review. In addition, you should not agree to review a manuscript just to gain sight of it with no intention of submitting a review, or agree to review a manuscript that is very similar to one you have in preparation or under consideration at another journal.
It is courteous to respond to an invitation to peer review within a reasonable time-frame, even if you cannot undertake the review. If you feel qualified to judge a particular manuscript, you should agree to review only if you are able to return a review within the proposed or mutually agreed time-frame. Always inform the Editor promptly if your circumstances change and you cannot fulfill your original agreement or if you require an extension. If you cannot review, it is helpful to make suggestions for alternative reviewers if relevant, based on their expertise and without any influence of personal considerations or any intention of the manuscript receiving a specific outcome (either positive or negative).
Conducting a review
Read the manuscript, supplementary data files and ancillary material thoroughly (e.g., reviewer instructions, required ethics and policy statements), getting back to the journal if anything is not clear and requesting any missing or incomplete items you need. Do not contact the authors directly without the permission of the Editor. It is important to understand the scope of the review before commencing (i.e., is a review of raw data expected?).
Respect the confidentiality of the peer review process and refrain from using information obtained during the peer review process for your own or another's advantage, or to disadvantage or discredit others. Do not involve anyone else in the review of a manuscript (including early career researchers you are mentoring), without first obtaining permission from the Editor. The names of any individuals who have helped with the review should be included so that they are associated with the manuscript in the journal's records and can also receive due recognition for their efforts.
Bias and competing interests
It is important to remain unbiased by considerations related to the nationality, religious or political beliefs, gender or other characteristics of the authors, origins of a manuscript or by commercial considerations. If you discover a competing interest that might prevent you from providing a fair and unbiased review, notify the Editor and seek advice (While waiting for a response, refrain from looking at the manuscript and associated material in case the request to review is rescinded). Similarly, notify the Editor as soon as possible if you find you do not have the necessary expertise to assess the relevant aspects of a manuscript so as not to unduly delay the review process. As the JDFSL uses a double-blind review process, if you suspect the identity of the author(s) notify the Editor if this knowledge raises any potential competing or conflict of interest.
Suspicion of ethics violations
If you come across any irregularities with respect to research and publication ethics Editor know. For example, you may have concerns that misconduct occurred during either the research or the writing and submission of the manuscript, or you may notice substantial similarity between the manuscript and a concurrent submission to another journal or a published article. In the case of these or any other ethical concerns, contact the Editor directly and do not attempt to investigate on your own. It is appropriate to cooperate, in confidence, with the journal, but not to personally investigate further unless the Editor asks for additional information or advice.
Preparing a report Format
Follow JDFSL's template and instructions for writing and posting the review. Be objective and constructive in your review, providing feedback that will help the authors to improve their manuscript. For example, be specific in your critique, and provide supporting evidence with appropriate references to substantiate general statements, to help Editors in their evaluation. Be professional and refrain from being hostile or inflammatory and from making libelous or derogatory personal comments or unfounded accusations.
Bear in mind that the Editor requires a fair, honest, and unbiased assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript. The JDFSL requires a recommendation to accept/revise/reject; the recommendation should be congruent with the comments provided in the review. If you have not reviewed the whole manuscript, do indicate which aspects of the manuscript you have assessed. Ensure your comments and recommendations for the Editor are consistent with your report for the authors; most feedback should be put in the report that the authors will see. Confidential comments to the Editor should not be a place for denigration or false accusation, done in the knowledge that the authors will not see your comments.
**Adapted from the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers**