"It’s crucial to choose the right person to review", she says. "We require all reviewers to have a PhD or equivalent, in an area related to the paper in question. They also need to be in current active research, and have a track-record of publishing in high-quality peer-reviewed journals.
"Our editors also take a reviewer’s past performance into account. It’s important that they can provide impartial and thorough comments, in the required timeframe, and that they are willing and available to review."
Treating people fairly
The theme of this year’s peer review week is 'transparency' – a term that can mean different things to different people.
"To us it means being open and clear about what our processes are", says Nicola. "We maintain an open dialogue with our authors and we’re prepared to listen if they feel a decision was incorrect.
"We have a very open and transparent appeal process, and a robust process for dealing with errors or potential misconduct.
"It’s about treating our authors, reviewers and readers fairly.
"We also use CrossMark, a widget that is added to the manuscript’s landing page and the PDF. Readers can click on it to find out whether the manuscript has been updated in any way, such as with corrections or comments. We also use the CrossMark widget to display information about who funded the research, as well as author identifiers (ORCID and ResearcherID) and copyright and licensing statements.
"We also continually seek to improve the transparency of our processes. For example, we are currently in the process of rolling out an initiative to all our journals where we will contact reviewers once a decision has been made on a manuscript they reviewed. They also get to see the other reviewers’ reports. That keeps things transparent and is a great feedback loop."