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Information for BMC Series reviewers

Welcome to the BMC Series Reviewers' page. We have collated the following resources to support and guide you in reviewing for us. We greatly appreciate the time and support reviewers give to the peer review process.

Responding to our invite: what to take into account when considering our invitation

Reviewing a manuscript: what to consider when reviewing a manuscript and preparing your report

After review: benefits of reviewing for the BMC Series journals

Additional resources: further links and reading to support you in your role

Responding to our invite

In our invitation, we will include the title of the paper, authors' names, and the paper’s abstract. Before accepting our invitation to review a manuscript for a BMC Series journal, consider these questions:

  • Is the topic and methodology of the manuscript within your expertise? Do you feel confident assessing this paper? Please keep in mind that it is reasonable to accept a review invitation even when your expertise is limited to a subset of the study. In these instances, please indicate in your review which aspects of the study you assessed.
  • Do you have any potential conflicts of interest? For example, is an author at your institution or have you co-published with them? It is essential that reviewers are independent to provide impartial reviews. If you have any conflicts of interests, please decline the invitation.
  • Do you understand the peer review policy of the journal? We have journals that operate different models of peer review and the invitation will state the journal's policy. More information can be found here: https://0-www-biomedcentral-com.brum.beds.ac.uk/about/advancing-peer-review.
  • Do you have time? Before or after agreeing to review, if you need an extension to the deadline, please contact us by replying to our email invitation to let us know how long you may need.

We understand how busy you are with other commitments and may not be available to review. Declining our invite lets us know that we need to contact alternative reviewers and helps us keep the manuscript evaluation process efficient. If you decline our invitation, we would be grateful if you could provide suggestions for experts we might consider as alternative reviewers.

Reviewing a BMC Series manuscript

The BMC Series is a collection of high-quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals covering all scientific and clinical disciplines, focusing on the needs of the research communities that they serve. The BMC Series subject-specific journals do not make editorial decisions on the basis of the interest of a study or its likely impact. Studies must be scientifically valid, technically sound and make an original contribution to the literature.

We ask reviewers to provide our Editors with the information they need to constructively and fairly make a decision on a manuscript and guide authors on how they can strengthen their manuscript to the point where it might be acceptable for publication. 

The methods must be appropriate and properly conducted, and the conclusions drawn must be fully supported by the data. We ask that reviewers do not assess the importance or significance of a paper - the research community will make this judgement after publication. The review should consider the following questions:

  • Is the paper technically sound?
  • Are the claims fully supported by the experimental data? If not, what further evidence is needed?
  • Is the statistical analysis of the data sound?
  • Does the availability of data adhere to the expected standards of your research community?
  • Are the claims appropriately discussed in the context of previous literature?
  • Could the manuscript be revised to address any potential limitations?

For more information on the different article types the journal considers, please refer to the Submission Guidelines on the journal's website.

Preparing your report

Reviews must be submitted by completing our structured report on our submission system. When preparing your report, it may help to start with a brief summary of the manuscript and your overall impression of the work, noting both strengths and weaknesses. Considering the ethos of the BMC Series and also criteria for this article type and your expert assessment, you should then provide more detailed comments on the paper. Explaining your recommendations will help the authors to understand your reasoning and will help them improve their work prior to publication (either in this journal or elsewhere). It is helpful to separate your comments into major issues (changes that you think are required or essential) and minor issues (changes that may be discretionary or where small clarifications or additional details may be needed).

If you do recommend rejection of the manuscript, please detail your concerns (for example, no valid research question, flaws with the methodology or interpretation of results); your feedback will allow the authors to understand your decision and improvements they may need to make to this and future manuscripts. 

You will also be able to provide separate comments to the Editor, for example, any ethical concerns or other issues you believe the Editor should be aware of, or if there are parts of the manuscript you could not assess (e.g. the statistical analyses used). If you feel that the manuscript would benefit from language editing as the message is being obscured by grammatical problems please suggest this in the Confidential Comments to the Editor.

Before you submit your report, please take a moment to read it through and put yourself in the place of the authors. How would you feel if you received this report? Would you find the tone courteous and professional?

Editorial decision

The Editor will assess your report along with the feedback of the other reviewer(s) and the manuscript before making a decision. The Editor may require additional advice from the journal’s Editorial Board or another reviewer/adjudicator and they may contact you for further clarification on your report. Please keep in mind that the Editor will weigh a number of factors when making a decision, and they may not ultimately agree with your recommendation. This does not imply that your feedback was not taken into account, only that there were other factors raised that strongly influenced the decision. 

Revised manuscript

If the Editor’s decision is to ask the authors to revise their manuscript, we may contact you again to assess the revised manuscript to ensure that you are satisfied with the response to your concerns and the changes made to the manuscript. If you have outstanding concerns on the revisions made, you can raise these to the authors, but please keep in mind that your feedback should be consistent between the rounds of review. If you believe the paper is now acceptable for publication, you can recommend acceptance.

After review

We greatly appreciate the time and support reviewers give to the peer review process. Reviewers play a pivotal role in the research process, by dedicating their time to examine other's work and offering their expertise to assess a manuscript and improve the quality of published articles. Reviewers contribute to the advancement of science and support the scientific community.

If you review for a journal in the BMC Series then you are entitled to a 15% discount on the article processing charge for your next submission to the BMC Series. This discount must be claimed within 1 year of completing your review and discounts cannot be combined.

BMC (as part of Springer Nature) has also partnered with Publons a service that tracks, verifies and showcases peer review activity across all of the world’s journals, allowing reviewers to showcase their activity. 

Additional resources