Haematology Journal of Bangladesh is committed to follow the peer review process for every submitted manuscript before it has been decided to be published. Peer review is a process by which experts evaluate scholarly works and analyse the content of an article to help decide the editorial board to choose research work for publication, accept with improvements/modifications, or reject. Its objective is to ensure and maintain high-quality standards of our publishing house. It works as another checkpoint to make sure that only good and original quality work is published. However, in the peer review process, the decision to publish a manuscript is the prerogative of a journal editor or the journal’s editorial board.
When a manuscript is submitted, we follow a double-blind peer review process to accomplish the basic requirements of publication. In this review process, the author and reviewer do not know each other. After initial screening of a submitted article, the assigned editor sends it to at least two reviewers to analyse the research work. In the peer-reviewed process, the decision to publish a manuscript is the prerogative of a journal editor or the journal’s editorial board.
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 clearly identify any gaps in your expertise when asked to review. Please, do not share the article to your juniors or other to review the article on behalf of you, without obtaining permission from the respective editor; and, in such case, please, inform the names of any individuals helping your review job to the editor who should be included in the journal’s records and can also receive due recognition for their efforts. 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).
Please, 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. 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.
Ensure you declare all potential competing or conflicting interests. Competing interests may be personal, financial, intellectual, professional, political, or religious in nature. If you are not sure about a potential competing interest that may prevent you from reviewing, do raise this. If you are currently employed at the same institution as any of the authors or have been recent mentors, mentees, close collaborators, or joint grant holders, you should not agree to review. In the case of double-blind review, if you suspect the identity of the author(s) notify the journal if this knowledge raises any potential competing or conflict of interest.
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 fulfil your original agreement or if you require an extension. Do not intentionally prolong the review process, either by delaying the submission of your review or by requesting unnecessary additional information from the journal or author.
Violation of ethics
During review process, if you suspect any irregularities with respect to research and publication ethics, please, inform the editor immediately. Misconduct may occur during the research, or during writing and submission of the manuscript, or there may be substantial similarity between the manuscript and a concurrent submission to another journal or a published article. In case of any ethical concern, contact the editor directly and do not attempt to investigate on your own, unless the editor asks for additional information or advice.
Conducting the 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.
At first read-through, please, assess the argument construction, the clarity of the language, and content and then make question yourself for the following:
• What is the main question addressed by the research? Is it relevant and interesting?
• How original is the topic? What does it add to the subject area compared with other published material?
• Is the paper well written? Is the text clear and easy to read?
• Are the conclusions consistent with the evidence and arguments presented? Do they address the main question posed?
• If the author is disagreeing significantly with the current academic consensus, do they have a substantial case? If not, what would be required to make their case credible?
• If the paper includes tables or figures, what do they add to the paper? Do they aid understanding or are they superfluous?
• Is the argument well-constructed and clear? Are there any factual errors or invalid arguments?
You should also consider the following questions:
• Does the title properly reflect the subject of the paper?
• Does the abstract provide an accessible summary of the paper?
• Do the keywords accurately reflect the content?
• Does the paper follow a clear and organized structure?
• Is the paper an appropriate length?
• Are the key messages short, accurate, and clear?
Upon closer readings, please, look for major issues:
• Are there any major flaws?
• If the experimental design features prominently in the paper, is the methodology sound?
• Is the research replicable, reproducible, and robust? Does it follow best practices and meet ethical standards?
• Has similar work already been published without the authors acknowledging this?
• Are there published studies that show similar or dissimilar trends that should be discussed?
• Are the authors presenting findings that challenge current thinking? Is the evidence they present strong enough to prove their case? Have they cited all the relevant work that would contradict their thinking and addressed it appropriately?
• Are there any major presentational problems? Are figures & tables, language and manuscript structure all clear enough to accurately assess the work?
• Are there any ethical issues?
Please, also note any minor issues that need to be corrected:
• Are the correct references cited? Are citations excessive, limited, or biased?
• Are there any factual, numerical, or unit errors? If so, what are they?
• Are all tables and figures appropriate, sufficient, and correctly labeled?
Preparing the review report
Format: Please, follow the journals’ instructions for writing and posting the review and use the tools supplied by the journal with a link in the email sent to you during the review request. Be objective and constructive in your review, providing feedback that will help the authors to improve their manuscript. Be specific in your critique and provide supporting evidence with appropriate references to substantiate general statements, to help editors in their evaluation. Please give a frank account of the strengths and weaknesses of the article (in 100-200 words).
Appropriate feedback: Bear in mind that the editor requires a fair, honest, and unbiased assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript. You can provide confidential comments to the editor as well as comments to be read by the authors. 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.
Language and style: Remember it is the authors’ paper, so do not attempt to rewrite it to your own preferred style if it is basically sound and clear; however, suggestions for changes that improve clarity are important. Be professional to phrase your reviews politely and refrain from being hostile or inflammatory and from making libellous or derogatory personal comments or unfounded accusations. Remember that even 'bad' papers represent a lot of work on the part of the authors. We all know how hurtful a needlessly negative review can be, and how helpful a positive one can be; please, try to bear that in mind when you are writing yours. Meanwhile the author will give feedback of the reviewer’s evaluation to the editors which may provide the evidence for editors to decide whether the reviewer is qualified.
Suggestions for further work: It is the job of the peer reviewer to comment on the quality and rigour of the work they receive. If the work is not clear because of missing analyses, the reviewer should comment and explain what additional analyses would clarify the work submitted. It is not the job of the reviewer to extend the work beyond its current scope. Be clear which (if any) suggested additional investigations are essential to support claims made in the manuscript under consideration and which will just strengthen or extend the work.
Accountability: Prepare the report by yourself, unless you have permission from the journal to involve another person. Refrain from making unfair negative comments or including unjustified criticisms of any competitors’ work that is mentioned in the manuscript. Refrain from suggesting that authors include citations to your (or an associate’s) work merely to increase citation counts or to enhance the visibility of your or your associate’s work; suggestions must be based on valid academic or technological reasons.
What to consider after peer review
If possible, try to accommodate requests from journals to review revisions or resubmissions of manuscripts you have reviewed previously. It is helpful to respond promptly if contacted by a journal about matters related to your review and to provide the information required. Similarly, contact the journal if anything relevant comes to light after you have submitted your review that might affect your original feedback and recommendations. Continue to respect the confidential nature of the review process and do not reveal details of the manuscript after peer review unless you have permission from the author and the journal.
Being a reviewer
Peer reviewers are ideally experts in their fields. They play a central and critical part in selecting an article in a transparent way but may come to the role without any guidance and be unaware of their ethical obligations and accountability. We are continuously trying to build a pool of peer reviewers that have a good track record of producing high-quality reviews. Authors who have been benefited from the peer review process should consider becoming peer reviewers as a part of their career and professional responsibilities. We request the potential reviewers to provide this journal with personal and professional information that is accurate and a fair representation of their expertise, including verifiable and accurate contact information. It is important to recognize that impersonation in the review process is considered serious misconduct.