Information for Reviewers
Rigorous peer review is a vital part of the publishing process at Highlights of Science. Reviewers who perform an invaluable service to the scientific community are essential to ensure the quality of papers published in Highlights of Science journals.
Peer Review Models
Highlights of Science applies a single-blind peer-review process for its journals by default, but offers choices for authors and reviewers to participate in signed review and open peer review.
Single-Blind Peer Review: During the peer review process, reviewers know the identity of the authors, but authors do not know who reviewed their manuscript unless reviewers choose to sign their report.
Signed Peer Review: Reviewers can choose to sign their name to the review, allowing themselves to be identified by authors and other reviewers of the manuscript.
Open Peer Review: Authors are given the choice to publish all the review reports and editorial decisions alongside their manuscript. In such cases, reviewers’ identities will not be disclosed unless they choose to sign their report.
Invitation to Review
Each manuscript submitted to Highlights of Science journals will be assessed by at least two independent reviewers. The selected reviewers are based on their expertise, publication history, and/or past reviews for Highlights of Science journals. Review invitations are sent by email through the journal online editorial management system. Reviewers can click the links included in the invitation emails to accept or decline the invitation, based on the manuscript title and abstract. Reviewers should accept an invitation only if they have relevant expertise and can provide an unbiased assessment for the research within the timeframe specified in the invitation email.
Criteria for Judgement
Reviewers are asked to evaluate the manuscript to provide recommendation to editors on final decision-making and comments to authors on how to improve their paper. When doing the assessment, reviewers will also be asked to rate the English language, and check if the work meets the highest standards of publication ethics, i.e., the manuscript must be original, not be plagiarized, nor a duplication of previous work.
Overall Recommendation: Reviewers are required to submit an overall recommendation for each manuscript to help the editors on decision-making. These include Accept, Minor Revisions, Major Revisions, and Reject. Accept recommendations suggest that the paper is acceptable in its current form and requires no further corrections. If a reviewer has any additional comments, please submit a Minor Revisions (manuscript requires minor changes) or Major Revisions (manuscript requires extensive reworking or additional experimental work) recommendation. Reject recommendations indicate the manuscript is not suitable for the journal, or it has serious flaws.
Rating the Manuscript: Reviewers are asked to comment on the following aspects of a manuscript:
Originality and Novelty: Is the research question clearly defined and in the end appropriately answered? Are there appropriate and adequate references to previous studies?
Significance: Is the work a significant contribution to the field? How significant are the findings described in the article, and do they represent an advance in current knowledge and understanding?
Scientific Soundness: Is the work scientifically sound and not misleading? Have the authors followed relevant ethical guidelines? Are the conclusions based on sound data? Are the methods described in enough detail to allow another researcher to reproduce the experiments?
Quality of Presentation: Is the manuscript well organized and written clearly enough to be accessible to non-specialists? Have the data been properly analysed and interpreted?
Quality of Language: Is the English language used clear and readable? Is the English language written technically and grammatically correct?
Editor Decision
At the end of the peer-review process for a manuscript that passed the initial editorial screening and was sent out for external review, the academic editors (the Editor-in-Chief, Guest Editor, or an appropriate Editorial Board Member) will make a final decision based on reviewers’ comments and their own judgement. For this reason, the final decision of a paper may differ from the one that a reviewer recommended.
Reviewers will be notified via email that a final decision of the manuscript they reviewed has been made. The decision and comments can be accessed through the online system.
Certificate of Review
Reviewers will receive an email confirmation for each review they complete. They may also request a PDF certificate for their review(s).
Refereeing Policies
Conflicts of Interest: Reviewers should provide impartial and objective assessments for the papers they are invited to review. Please notify the journal Editorial Office of any personal, professional or financial conflicts of interest that may affect the impartiality of the review report.
Confidentiality: Reviews must be done in strict confidence. Manuscripts that are under review should not be disclosed to a third party. Reviewers should destroy the copies after submitting their review. Reviewers must inform the journal Editorial Office beforehand if they wish to discuss the paper with a colleague.
Anonymity: All Highlights of Science journals apply a single-blind peer-review process. The review process is conducted anonymously. Please do not reveal any identity to the authors, either in the comments or in reports submitted via attached files.
Objective Comments: Reviewers should concentrate on providing an objective assessment of the work and should avoid making statements that could cause offence, are derogatory or potentially libellous.
Timeliness: Reviewers are asked to return the reviews within the time period specified in the invitations to ensure high efficient publishing service for the community. Please contact the journal Editorial Office to require a possible extension when the review cannot be done timely.
Comments and Questions
Please send your comments and questions to or directly to the journal Editorial Office.
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