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For reviewers

Peer review

Eurosurveillance is dependent on the expertise of its reviewers and is grateful for their input. A list of our reviewers is published annually: those who reviewed for us in 2016 are acknowledged All submissions are assessed initially by the editorial team or an associate editor: those that pass the initial screening are then sent for review (except editorials, meeting reports, news and letters). We use double-blind review, i.e. the manuscript is anonymised and the identity of authors and reviewers is kept confidential.

Reviews will be handled through our online submission system. When a reviewer registers on the system, they are asked to provide details of their expertise. It is helpful if reviewers give as much detail as possible, to allow reviewers with the appropriate expertise to be selected.

Reviewers should be aware that:

  • we expect them not to pass on the manuscript to a third party nor to discuss its contents before publication;
  • they should indicate if they consider they have insufficient expertise to evaluate certain aspects of a paper (e.g. statistics, modelling, laboratory diagnosis);
  • they must disclose any conflict of interest that would prevent them from objectively evaluating the manuscript;
  • they must have read and agreed to the terms of the Eurosurveillance data protection notice;
  • their comments for the authors will be shared anonymously with the other reviewer(s) of the manuscript;
  • we may ask them to assess the revised manuscript, to ensure that their comments have been adequately addressed.

Please give the editor, based on your detailed comments to the authors, a clear recommendation on whether the paper should be: 

  • Published. This is for papers that are nearly perfect as they are.
  • Published after satisfactory revisions. This is for work that you consider worth publishing in principle; you think that the flaws you have highlighted can be sorted out and you do not expect that the corrections will alter the results and conclusions. It is helpful for the editor if you indicate which of your suggested improvements are essential for publication.
  • Rejected with an invitation to resubmit. This is for work that you consider interesting enough to be published in principle, but the flaws are such that the expected correction would change the paper so much that the validity of the revised version would need to be judged again by an expert. Please bear in mind that an invitation to resubmit is still a rejection and involves a second full review process, it should be recommended only if the presented information is worth the effort, otherwise you should not recommend a resubmission.
  • Rejected. This is for submissions that you do not consider valuable for our readership or that contain flaws that you consider cannot be solved by a revision.

Once the review and evaluation process have been completed, the reviewers are able to see in the online submission system the status and final editorial decision for the manuscript they reviewed. Here they are also able to see the anonymised review(s) from other experts who commented on the same manuscript.

Details of what we ask reviewers to look for when assessing the manuscripts in the different categories are given below. 

Reviewers should be aware that we encourage our authors to follow the ‘Sex and Gender Equity in Research - SAGER – guidelines’ and to take into account sex and gender considerations where relevant. 

Reviewing rapid communications

Rapid communications are timely, authoritative short reports on important communicable disease findings and events where rapid dissemination of information could potentially lead to a prompt change in an ongoing public health situation or create awareness for topics we consider to be of timely relevance. They therefore go through a fast peer review process, as they are generally published within  two weeks from submission. Consequently, reviewers are asked to send their comments within 48 hours. We generally seek only one review per rapid communication, but we may where necessary send a rapid communication to more than one reviewer.

We ask reviewers to consider in particular the following aspects:

  • Timeliness
  • Public health implications
  • European relevance (the paper may describe public health events outside of Europe, but the relevance to European countries needs to be clear)
  • Validity of the methodology
  • Scientific importance
  • Presentation quality
  • Originality (what the paper adds to what has already been published)

Further examples of what to consider when reviewing are listed below under What to consider when reviewing a manuscript.

Reviewers can address these issues by sending their comments, through the online submission system, to the editorial team. Reviewers receive a pdf file that contains the text and any figures and tables.

The reviewers’ comments will be anonymised and passed on to the authors. In cases where more than one review is sought for a rapid communication, the comments for the authors will be shared with the other reviewer(s).

When suggesting changes, reviewers should bear in mind that the rapid communications are intended to be short (usually around 1,200 words) and should not have an Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion (IMRaD) structure. It is helpful if reviewers can indicate which changes are essential for publication.

Separately, reviewers should also state clearly whether they consider that the rapid communication should be accepted (usually subject to satisfactory revision) or rejected, in the light of their review. Reviewers can also indicate if they consider publication as a regular article, rather than a rapid communication, is warranted. This advice is confidential (for the editorial team’s use only) and the final decision regarding publication is taken by the editorial team.

The revised manuscript is always edited by the editorial team.

Reviewing regular articles (Research articles, Surveillance and outbreak reports, Reviews) 

We ask reviewers of regular articles to send their comments within two weeks, if possible. We always obtain at least two reviews per article. In addition we may ask for a statistician’s expertise.

Reviewers are expected to assess all parts of the article carefully, paying particular attention to the following aspects:

  • Public health implications
  • European relevance (the paper may describe public health events outside of Europe, but the relevance to European countries needs to be clear)
  • Validity of the methodology
  • Scientific importance
  • Presentation quality
  • Originality (what the paper adds to what has already been published).

Further examples of what to consider when reviewing are listed under What to consider when reviewing a manuscript.

Comments for the authors should be included on the reviewing form. on the online submission system. These anonymised comments will also be shared with the other reviewer(s) of the article.

On the form, reviewers are also asked to indicate whether they consider that the article should be accepted (usually subject to satisfactory revision) or rejected, in the light of their review. This advice is confidential (for the editorial team’s use only) and the final decision regarding publication is taken by the editorial team.

The revised manuscript is always edited by the editorial team.

What to consider when reviewing a manuscript

(Based on Crombie. The pocket guide to critical appraisal, BMJ, 1996)

Is the study/information an important addition to the already published knowledge? What is the novelty value of the study?

Is the manuscript relevant for the scope of the journal (for Eurosurveillance: it should contain important information on the epidemiology, surveillance, prevention or control of communicable diseases, with relevance to Europe)

Abstract

  • Does it cover the essential information?

Introduction

  • Is the rationale for the study/information clear?
  • Are the aims clearly stated?
  • Is it well referenced? (appropriate, sufficient, as recent as possible?)

Methods

  • Is the design appropriate for the stated objectives? (study population, control groups, sample size, data collection)
  • How were the data collected? Same methods for cases and controls (if relevant)?
  • Are the statistical methods described and sound? Was the statistical significance assessed (i.e. the play of chance ruled out)? Is there controlling for confounders?
  • Was the sample size justified?

Results

  • Was the study carried out as planned? What was the quality of follow-up?
  • What was the response?
  • Is there a possibility of selection bias?
  • Were the basic data adequately described?
  • Do the numbers add up? (in the text, and in tables/figures)
  • Are the measurements / estimates likely to be valid and reliable, i.e. are results biased? Can the results be generalised?
  • Were relevant outcome measures ignored?
  • Is there redundant information?

Tables/figures

  • Should there be more/fewer/different tables/figures?
  • Are they clear (axes/headings/legends present and correct)?
  • Do they show what is said in the text?
  • Can text and figures be read and understood on their own?

Discussion/Conclusions

  • Are the findings well interpreted? Are there alternative, unmentioned, explanations that could explain the results? Are the conclusions based on the findings of the study?
  • How are null findings interpreted?
  • Are important effects overlooked?
  • Are the results sufficiently compared with previous reports?
  • Are the implications of the findings sufficiently discussed?
  • Are recommendations sensible and supported by the results?
  • Is it well referenced?
  • Are the public health impact and European relevance stated where appropriate
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