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Referee information

Method of review. QJM conducts all peer review online. If you cannot access this website, please let us know as soon as possible, as you willnot be able to review for us. The Reviewers Tutorial is a basic guide to using the site.

Style. Reviewers are encouraged to adopt any style of report they find convenient. The only exception is that we ask reviewers not to make annotations to the PDF. These make it difficult to track the recommendations and the authors' responses.

Length of report. In an ideal world, all reviewers would have the time to produce thorough and detailed reports. QJM recognizes, however, that this is not always realistic. If time permits only a short paragraph, that is still preferable to no comment at all. Often, even the briefest opinions have value in helping the Editor to reach a decision.

Time frame. The requesting e-mail will indicate the time frame in which we hope to receive a report. However, what is most important is to have an accurate estimate of likely response time. If a reviewer contacts us early in the process with a realistic estimate of the time they will need, we can quickly let them know whether we can proceed on that basis, or whether it would be better for us to find another reviewer. This is clearly better for both parties, as no-one likes to write a lengthy report, only to be told that a decision has already been made. Conversely, if a reviewer is unable to help, a prompt notification is always appreciated.

  1. Criteria. There are five principal criteria by which we ask reviewers to judge manuscripts.
  2. Originality. Does the paper make a substantial contribution to its field? If a review article or commentary, is it disseminating information or ideas that are not presently widespread?
  3. Methodological soundness. Are the methods used adequately described, and appropriate to the questions they attempt to address?
  4. Clarity of presentation. Is it easy to discern what the authors have intended, what they achieved, and what they make of the results? Are parts of the manuscript superfluous, ambiguous or obfuscated? Would data be better presented in another format? There is no need to comment on matters of spelling or grammar, as these can be corrected in house, but clarity of expression is very important.
  5. Interpretation of results. Are the authors' conclusions justified by their findings? Are speculations clearly identified as such? Have possible biases been identified and any limitations acknowledged?
  6. Importance and suitability for QJM Material published in QJM is aimed at senior physicians. For them to find a paper or review of interest, it needs either to deal with an unjustly neglected topic, say somethingnew about an old topic, or cover a topic in a more systemic and comprehensive way than prevoius publications have done.

Conflicts of interest. A conflict of interest need not disqualify a reviewer from offering an opinion, but we expect reviewers to make a full disclosure of any such conflict.

Transmission of comments. The identities of reviewers will never be revealed to the author without their explicit permission. QJM reserves the right to edit comments before passing them to the authors, for matters such as brevity and style, but undertakes not to distort or misrepresent the reviewer's opinion.

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