Education And Debate

Guidelines for referees

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 01 January 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:41

Referees are asked for their opinion on the originality, scientific reliability, clinical importance, and overall suitability of the paper for publication in the journal, and their reports may be sent to the authors to indicate any changes required. To help them, we send referees the following guidelines.

  • The manuscript is a confidential document. Please do not discuss it even with the author.

  • If you want to consult a colleague or junior please discuss this with us first.

  • The referee is providing advice to the editors, who (aided by an editorial committee) make the final decision. We will let you know our decision and will normally pass on your anonymised comments to the author.

  • Even if we do not accept a paper we would like to pass on constructive comments that might help the authors to improve it.

  • For this reason please give detailed comments (with references, if appropriate) that will help both the editors to make a decision on the paper and the authors to improve it. Please give your detailed comments on a separate sheet and make your recommendations and any confidential comments to the editor in a covering letter.

The broad aspects that we should like comments on include:

  • Originality (truly original or known to you through foreign or specialist publications or through the grapevine)

  • Scientific reliability - Overall design of study - Patients studied Adequately described and their condition defined? - Methods Adequately described? Appropriate? - Results Relevant to problem posed? Credible? Well presented (including the use of tables and figures)? - Interpretation and …

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