Ethical obligations of reviewers of manuscripts
As the reviewing of manuscripts is an essential step in the publication process, and therefore in the operation of the scientific method, every scientist has an obligation to do a fair share of reviewing.
A chosen reviewer who feels inadequately qualified to judge the research reported in a manuscript should return it promptly to the editor.
A reviewer of a manuscript should judge objectively the quality of the manuscript, of its experimental and theoretical work, of its interpretations and its exposition, with due regard to the maintenance of high scientific and literary standards. A reviewer should respect the intellectual independence of the authors.
A reviewer should be sensitive to the appearance of a conflict of interest when the manuscript under review is closely related to the reviewer’s work in progress or published. If in doubt, the reviewer should return the manuscript promptly without review, advising the editor of the conflict of interest.
A reviewer should not evaluate a manuscript authored or co-authored by a person with whom the reviewer has a personal or professional connection if the relationship would bias judgment of the manuscript.
A reviewer should treat a manuscript sent for review as a confidential document. It should neither be shown to nor discussed with others except, in special cases, to persons from whom specific advice may be sought; in that event, the identities of those consulted should be disclosed to the editor.
Reviewers should explain and support their judgments adequately so that editors and authors may understand the basis of their comments. Any statement that an observation, derivation, or argument had been previously reported should be accompanied by the relevant citation. Unsupported assertions by reviewers (or by authors in rebuttal) are of little value and should be avoided.
A reviewer should be alert to failure of authors to cite relevant work by other scientists, bearing in mind that complaints that the reviewer’s own research was insufficiently cited may seem self-serving. A reviewer should call to the editor’s attention any substantial similarity between the manuscript under consideration and any published paper or any manuscript submitted concurrently to another journal.
A reviewer should act promptly, submitting a report in a timely manner.
Reviewers should not use or disclose unpublished information, arguments, or interpretations contained in a manuscript under consideration, except with the consent of the author. If this information indicates that some of the reviewer’s work is unlikely to be profitable, the reviewer, however, could ethically discontinue the work