As a peer reviewer for a Science journal, you are part of a valued community. Scientific progress depends on the trustworthiness of communicated information, and the peer-review process is a vital means to that end.
Only some of the papers submitted to a Science journal are reviewed in depth. For in-depth review, at least two outside referees are consulted. Reviewers are contacted before being sent a paper and are asked to return comments within 2 weeks for most papers. Reviewers may be selected to evaluate particular components of a manuscript that draw on their individual expertise. Editors in the Science family greatly appreciate the time spent in preparing a review and will consult you on a revision of a manuscript only if they believe the paper has been substantially improved but still requires expert input. The final responsibility for decisions of acceptance or rejection of a submitted manuscript lies with the editor.
Ethical Guidelines for Reviewers
- Objective evaluation. Reviews should be objective assessments of the research. If you cannot judge a paper impartially, you should not accept the invitation to review or else notify the editor as soon as you appreciate the potential conflict. The editor should also be notified if there are circumstances that might be perceived to affect your impartiality—for example, any professional or financial affiliations closely related to the author(s) or to the paper’s conclusions, or a history of personal differences with the author(s). If you are not qualified to evaluate a component of the research, you should inform the editor in your review.
- Constructive and timely comments. Reviews should be constructive and courteous, and the reviewer should respect the intellectual independence of the author. The reviewer should avoid personal comments; editors at Science journals reserve the right to edit out comments that will hinder constructive discussion of manuscripts. Just as you wish prompt evaluations of your own research, please return your reviews within the time period specified when you were asked to review the paper. If events will prevent a timely review, please inform the editor at the time of the request or as soon as possible if the review is in progress.
- Reviewer anonymity. The review process is conducted anonymously, and Science journal editors do not disclose the identity of reviewers. However, reviewers are free to reveal their own identity by signing their reviews. Science journal editors share reviews with the authors, and possibly with other reviewers and Board of Reviewing Editors.
- Confidentiality. The submitted manuscript is a privileged communication and must be treated as a confidential document. Please delete or discard all copies of the manuscript after review. Please do not share the manuscript with any colleagues without the explicit permission of the editor. Reviewers should not make personal or professional use of the data or interpretations before publication without the authors' specific permission (unless they are writing an editorial or commentary to accompany the article).
- Editorial policies. You should be aware of Science journal policies regarding conflict of interest, data availability, and materials sharing. See the Editorial Policies page.
Instructions specific to each journal, including guidelines for particular article types and information on how to access the manuscripts and submit your review, are at the relevant journal page below.
- Council of Science Editors' Recommendations for Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications
- American Chemical Society’s Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research
- The World Association of Medical Editors’ Policies for Medical Journal Editors