Information on the scope and standards of each journal can be found in the journal specific guidelines. Reviewers should aim to submit their reports in a timely fashion: the suggested deadline for receipt of the report is specified in the invitation email. Reviewers should inform the editor as soon as possible if submitting the report by the deadline is not feasible.
When making a recommendation, reviewers should assess the overall suitability of the article for the journal in relation to the subject and impact of the work, and they should comment on whether the designated article type is appropriate. Major concerns that would prohibit publication should be clearly distinguished from minor concerns that can be addressed by the authors prior to publication.
It is not necessary to highlight specific errors in the use of language or grammar except where this significantly impacts the understanding of the science.The editor should be informed if a manuscript features work which closely resembles that reported in other publications, or duplicates text and/or figures from published articles.
Titles should reflect the content and contain terms that would improve the discoverability of the paper. Summaries should preferably be self-contained, so that they can be understood without reference to the main text.
The length of an article should be commensurate with its scientific content. Although short papers are acceptable, the Royal Society of Chemistry strongly discourages the fragmentation of a substantial body of work into a number of short publications; such fragmentation is likely to be grounds for rejection.
The reviewer should consider the novelty of the work and the advance shown over previous studies. In the event of a manuscript lacking sufficient novelty or being incremental in nature, publications should be cited in support of this in the reviewer’s report.
All scientific work should be performed in a rigorous manner, and any concerns about the level of scientific rigour should be highlighted to the editor, fully explaining the concerns.
It should be clearly understood that reviewers' reports are made in confidence to the editor, at whose discretion comments will be transmitted to the author. To assist the editor, reviewers are requested to indicate which comments are designed only for consideration, as distinct from those which, in the reviewer's view, require specific action or an adequate answer before the paper is accepted.
Reviewers may ask for sight of supporting data not submitted for publication, or for sight of a previous paper which has been submitted but not yet published. Such requests must be made to the editor, not directly to the author, and the editor will contact the author on behalf of the reviewer.
If the reviewer considers a manuscript to be polemical in nature then the editor should be alerted. The author of the paper being criticised will be sent a copy of the manuscript and be given the opportunity to respond.
Authentication of new compounds
Reviewers are asked to assess, as a whole, the evidence in support of the homogeneity and structure of all new compounds. No hard and fast rules can be laid down to cover all types of compounds, but the Royal Society of Chemistry's policy is that evidence for the unequivocal identification of new compounds should, wherever possible, include good elemental analytical data; for example, an accurate mass measurement of a molecular ion does not provide evidence of purity of a compound and must be accompanied by independent evidence of homogeneity (for example, HPLC).
Low resolution mass spectrometry must be treated with even more reserve in the absence of firm evidence to distinguish between alternative molecular formulae. Where elemental analytical data cannot be obtained, appropriate evidence that is convincing to an expert in the field may be acceptable.
Spectroscopic information necessary for the assignment of a structure should normally be given. How complete this information should be must depend upon the circumstances; the structure of a compound obtained from an unusual reaction or isolated from a natural source needs much stronger supporting evidence than one derived by a standard reaction from a precursor with an undisputed structure. Some journals may have additional requirements; please refer to the individual journal specific guidelines.
Reviewers are reminded of the need to be exacting in their standards but at the same time flexible in their admission of evidence. It remains the Royal Society of Chemistry's policy to accept work only of high quality and to permit no lowering of standards.
X-Ray crystallographic work
Papers containing X-ray crystallographic work will be reviewed for their chemical interest, and crystallographic determinations will be assessed. At the editor’s discretion, the paper may be sent to a specialist crystallographer for comment. Therefore, assessors of manuscripts containing crystallography will not normally be expected to check values of structural parameters for publication (for example, bond lengths and angles against atomic coordinates; this will be done by the appropriate crystallographic data centre), but should still pay attention to the quality of the experimental crystallographic work.
A structure referred to in a Communication will normally be fully refined. The Communication can then be considered to fulfil the archival function, and the structure determination may not require further detailed assessment when presented as part of a Full paper. In the Full paper, the author's purpose will then be served by a simple reference back to the original Communication. However, if the crystallography is discussed again at any length in the full paper, the data should be re-presented to the reviewers in full, and re-published if considered necessary.
There may be other cases when an author wishes to publish a Full paper in which the result of a crystal structure determination is discussed, but in which details or extensive discussion are considered unnecessary. The crystallographer may even be omitted as a co-author (for example, when the determination is carried out by a commercial company).If the author is able to show that this is appropriate for the manuscript, it will be allowed provided that it does not lead to unnecessary fragmentation. However, the author must provide, as electronic supplementary information (ESI), sufficient data relating to the crystal structure determination to allow a crystallographer to make sure that the point made is correct. The brief published description of the determination should be supplemented by appropriate reference to 'unpublished work'.
Electronic supplementary information (ESI)
Reviewers are encouraged to suggest that appropriate material is published as ESI rather than being included in the article. Any ESI supplied upon submission should be reviewed to the same standard as the article.