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Instructions for reviewers

Scope and criteria
The peer-review process
Article types
Accessing the referee report
Completing the referee report
Interpretive essays
Editorial decision
Ethical considerations
Anonymous entry to authors' websites

Scope and criteria

Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health is an open access journal that publishes original, rigorous applications of evolutionary thought to issues in medicine, and public health. It aims to connect evolutionary biology with the health sciences to produce insights that may reduce suffering and save lives. Because evolutionary biology is a basic science that reaches across many disciplines, this journal is open to contributions on a broad range of topics, including relevant work on non-model organisms and insights that arise from both research and practice.

The peer-review process

Upon receipt, manuscripts are assessed for their suitability for publication by the Editor-in-Chief and the editorial staff. Only manuscripts meeting the journal’s criteria (above) are sent out for review, saving time both for the Authors and the Referees.

These manuscripts are assigned to Associate Editors who take overall responsibility for the peer-review process. Typically, a minimum of two reviews are required for each manuscript. Referees are chosen first and foremost for their expertise in the field. Referees can also be recommended by the Authors, the Editors and other Referees. Once they have agreed to review a manuscript, Referees have 10 days to submit their comments via our online manuscript tracking system. We aim to reach a decision on all manuscripts within 3 weeks of submission; hence a prompt delivery of the Referee’s reports is essential.

Article types

Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health publishes several types of articles .
The article you have received for review is indicated on the scoresheet. Please read the description of the article types before reviewing the article.

Accessing the referee report

All reviews must be submitted via our online manuscript tracking system, ScholarOne Manuscripts.

There are two ways to access the manuscript, (i) by clicking on the link provided in the instruction email, or (ii) by logging directly into the Referee Centre on ScholarOne Manuscripts . The manuscript can be found in the Referee Centre under 'Review and Score'. Clicking on the 'Perform Review' button will give access to the score sheet and full instructions.

Each manuscript record contains 3 tabs: the Instructions tab, the Details tab which provides basic information such as the manuscript title and keywords, and the Score Sheet tab.

Click the ‘HTML’ or ‘PDF’ green icons to view all the manuscripts files consolidated into a single HTML or PDF file. Supplementary Information, if provided, can be accessed by clicking on the ‘Supplementary Files’ green icon. To view the Authors' Response to previous Referees' Comments, go to the 'Details' tab then 'View Author's Response' under 'Version History'.

To do external searches by keywords in PubMed, HighWire or Google, click on the ‘External Searches’ blue icon.

Important: Please click on the ‘Save as Draft’ button regularly to avoid being logged out of the system and losing any work in progress.

Completing the referee report

The Referee Report is made up of six different sections; all sections must be completed before submission.

  • Section 1: manuscript rating on Significance, Originality, Scientific Quality and General Interest.
  • Section 2: custom questions regarding manuscript length, figures, supplementary material, and quality of English.
  • Section 3: interpretive essays (Recommended or not), see below.
  • Section 4: recommendation (Accept, Reject etc…).
  • Section 5: confidential comments to the Editor.
  • Section 6: comments for the Authors.

Referees should approach each manuscript with an impartial and positive but critical mind. Comments to the Authors must be constructive, clearly identifying the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses, and providing tangible suggestions for improvement. Offensive language is not acceptable. Referees will not be able to edit their report once it is submitted, so should not include anything in the Comments for the Authors that they would not wish the Authors to read.

The ideal report should be organized as follows:

  • An introductory paragraph placing the manuscript in a broader context, describing the contribution of the manuscript to the field, summarizing the manuscript’s main findings and claims, and giving the Referee’s overall impression of the manuscript.
  • Specific comments (please see below) which should be further divided into Major and Minor Comments.
  • Suggestions to improve the manuscript. These may include:
    - new experiments or improvements to the described experiments
    - addition/deletion of references
    - changes to the text to improve presentation, quality of English, length etc.

The core of your review should address the interest, importance, and reliability of the findings and conclusions reported. In addition, we would appreciate your comments on these items:

  1. Title: does it communicate the major issue addressed by the paper?
  2. Abstract (original research articles only): does it concisely state the issue, the findings, and their significance?
  3. Logic: do the authors place their work in context, making it clear why it is important? Does their introduction proceed from the general to the specific and end by stating the points addressed in the paper? Does the paper then address those points? Does the discussion revisit the priorities expressed in the Introduction in the order stated?
  4. Methods: these should be detailed enough so that the work can be repeated by others and if complex should be divided into two sections, an overview in the main article and details in the supplementary materials.
  5. Results: is the analysis flawed in any way? Have alternative explanations been dealt with? Are the statistics properly done?
  6. Discussions and Conclusion: Do the conclusions in fact follow from the results? Have other possible explanations in fact been ruled out? Is related work properly acknowledged? Has the nature of the progress and the next steps needed been made clear?
  7. Display items: Are they all necessary? Are any more needed? Can they stand alone with the legends provided without reference to the text?
  8. Supplementary Information: Is this information necessary and relevant?

Although EMPH operates a single-blind peer-review system, referees may reveal their identity to the authors by signing their report.

Interpretive essays

An interpretive essay on a given paper in ‘News and Views’ style may be commissioned by the Editor-in-Chief. If you think that an article deserves the publication of an Interpretive Essay, please indicate so in this field. You may suggest qualified authors to write the Interpretive Essay.

Editorial decision

Referees should not include a recommendation regarding publication in their comments to the Authors. This decision rests solely with the Editor. However, referees may use Section 5 of the Referee Report to make confidential comments to the Editor regarding the suitability of the manuscript for publication.

In the event of conflicting Referee Reports, the Editor may invite a new referee, possibly a member of the Editorial Board, to comment on the manuscript. The Editor may inform the new referee of the conflict and may give him/her access to the previous referee reports without disclosing the referee’s name.

The referee can make the following recommendations:

  • Accept without revision: a high-priority paper that is clearly written throughout, with no mistakes in analysis, drawing important conclusions that are clearly justified.
  • Accept with minor revision: a high priority paper with a few issues that should be easy to clear up.
  • Return for major revisions: a paper with important results and/or conclusions but flaws in presentation, logic, or analysis that necessitate a substantial rewrite, re-analysis, or collection of additional data. Papers that are resubmitted will be reviewed to the same standards as original submissions; acceptance is not guaranteed.
  • Reject without potential for resubmission: this category contains not only papers that are in some way seriously flawed but also papers that are competent but unimportant and unexciting. EMPH is not the journal for such papers.

Referees’ Reports are generally not edited by the Editor before being sent to the Authors. However, Editors retain the right to remove any inappropriate language, confidential information or recommendation for publication without consultation with the Referee.

Copies of all the reviews are sent anonymously to referees once the Editor has reached a decision. These are for information only.

Ethical considerations


The review process is strictly confidential. Referees should not discuss the manuscript with anyone not directly involved in the review process. Referees may consult with colleagues or other experts in the field only upon approval from the Editor. Under no circumstances should referees disclose, copy, share or distribute any of the manuscript files or any of their comments. In the event of queries, referees must not contact the Authors directly but must raise the queries with the Editor.

Conflict of interest

We expect Referees to disclose conflicts of interest when they are first invited to review a manuscript. The following may constitute a conflict of interest:

  • One or more of the authors are from the same institution as the referee.
  • Recent or ongoing collaboration with one or more of the authors.
  • Referee saw a draft of the manuscript before submission.
  • Authors and referee are in direct competition.
  • Conflict or dispute with the authors.
  • Financial/commercial interest.

However, the fact that a referee has previously reviewed the same manuscript for another journal does not constitute a conflict of interest.

Publishing ethics

Referees should report any breach of publishing ethics that they identify directly to the Editor. The following may constitute a breach:

  • Plagiarism
  • Manipulated images/photos/figures
  • Biased reference list
  • Duplicate publication
  • Data from previous publication reused without proper referencing

Anonymous entry to authors' websites

Some manuscripts include information held on the author's website which you may need to access in the course of reviewing the manuscript. In order to avoid any compromise of referee anonymity you may wish to do this using an anonymizer. You will find a list of free anonymous surfing servers at http://www.thefreecountry.com/security/anonymous.shtml . Please note that neither Oxford University Press nor EMPH endorses or recommends any particular anonymizer, and can accept no responsibility for any such site.

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