Peer review is a process aiming at evaluating the originality, the quality and the robustness of a manuscript for publication. The key point of this approach is the safeguard of the academic research integrity and the improvement of the paper quality.
For the publisher the peer review process is essential to screen the contents for publication, ensuring that only top-level articles will be disseminated. Peer review should add value to a research work, and the constructive dialogue with the reviewers should stimulate the authors to improve the robustness of their work.
The following outline summarizes all the fundamental stages of the peer review process.
- Paper Submission
The manuscript, along with all the supplementary files (Supplementary Material, raw data, media, cover letter…) is submitted to the journal by the corresponding author(s) via our online system. Go to the webpage of journal you selected and click “Make a Submission” to be directed to the online submission system.
- First Editorial Evaluation
The Editorial Staff checks that the submitted paper complies with all the relevant style and formatting guidelines, and adhere to all the requirements related to competing interests, financial disclosures and data availability policy.
- Editor-in-Chief Assessment
The Editor-in-Chief validates the submission by evaluating the quality and the originality of the paper. If the manuscript is considered inappropriate for the journal or does not match its “Focus and Scope”, it may be rejected at this stage.
- Assignment to an Associate/Section Editor
In case the journal have Associate/Section Editors to manage the peer review, they are assigned by the Editor-in-Chief at this stage.
- Reviewer Invitation
The Associate/Section Editor contacts academics, experts, scientists that could be appropriate reviewers for the manuscript. Usually the minimum required number of reviews per article is 2. The potential reviewers evaluate the assignement on the basis of their expertise, time availability and conflict of interest, and communicate to the editor their acceptance or refuse (suggesting alternative reviewers, if possible).
- The Review Stage
The reviewers examine the manuscript several times. A first reading is useful to form a general impression of the work. If major issues are found, the reviewers can reject the paper. Otherwise, they perform a in-depth analysis, building a detailed review which addresses all the topics investigated. The final report is submitted to the editor with a recommendation to accept or reject it, or with a revision request.
- Review Evaluation and Decision Communication
The editor collects all the review and make a decision about the paper. If the reviews are diverging – or one or more reports are evidently biased – the editor can contact additional referees before the final judgement about publication. Once the decision is reached, the reviewers’ reports are forwarded to the authors. The identity of the reviewers is not disclosed.
- Final Steps
The author modifies the paper accordingly to the reviewers’ suggestions or make a rebuttal to any comments with which he/she disagrees. In case of major revisions the revised manuscript may undergo a second round of peer-review. When only minor changes are requested the review follow-up as well as the final check is handled by the Associate/Section Editor. Once the manuscript is ready in its final form it is sent to the production.
Transparency in Peer Review
FUP takes every effort to ensure and increase transparency in peer review, making it clear to the readers, the authors and the reviewers the rigorous process behind article publication. We are actively experimenting different working tools to give researchers the opportunity to improve diffusion, recognition, and reward.