9 Common Reasons for Rejection

Posted Feb 1, 2018
    Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

Nobody likes rejection. If you’ve spent a lot of time and effort on your latest paper, only to have it turned down, it’s going to hurt. Articles get rejected for all manner of reasons, from easy to avoid errors and oversights, to simply falling outside of the journal’s scope. In this two-part blog post (part two to follow next week) we’ll look at some of the most common reasons for rejection in more detail, before discussing the various options open to you if your article is rejected. So, what are the most likely reasons for rejection?


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1.The manuscript fails the technical screening

Before the manuscript gets passed to the Editor-in-Chief or Managing Editor of a journal, the editorial office will undertake some basic checks. The main reasons for rejection of papers at this stage include:

  • The paper contains elements that are suspected to be plagiarized
  • The paper is under review at another journal (submission to multiple journals at the same time isn’t allowed)
  • The manuscript lacks key elements such as a title, list of authors and affiliations, main text, references, or figures and tables
  • The quality of the language is not sufficient for review to take place
  • Tables and figures are not clear enough to read
  • The paper does not conform to the journal’s Author Guidelines


2. The manuscript does not fall within the journal’s Aims and Scope

If the paper won’t be of interest or value to the journal’s audience, it’s unlikely to be accepted. When choosing a journal to submit to, always make sure you read the Aims and Scope so you have an understanding of the type of articles the journal is looking for. For more tips on choosing the right journal, see last week’s blog post: How to Maximize Your Study’s Visibility by Choosing the Right Journal.


3. The research topic isn’t of great enough significance

Again, if the topic covered by the paper isn’t of interest to a journal’s audience, it will likely be rejected. It may be that the paper’s findings are incremental and do not advance the field, or that the manuscript is clearly part of a larger study which has been divided up to make as many articles as possible.


4. The research is over-ambitious

If the authors have been overly ambitious or all-encompassing, results may be difficult to interpret or may even be flawed. In these cases it may be more appropriate to divide the work into a series of smaller research projects.


5. A clear hypothesis hasn’t been established

The question behind the research may be unclear, poorly formulated, or not relevant to the research field. Carrying out an extensive literature review can help guide your hypothesis or research question.


6. The manuscript is incomplete

The paper might contain observations but is not a full study, or it may ignore or overlook other important work in the field.


7. There are flaws in the procedures, presentation or analysis of the data

Major flaws might include a lack of clear control groups or other comparison metrics, non-conformity with recognized procedures or methodology (which makes it difficult to repeat or replicate the work), or the lack of a statistically valid analysis. Watch out for any minor flaws such as the incorrect, inappropriate or unclear labelling of tables and figures.


8. Flaws in the manuscript’s arguments and/or conclusions

Arguments should be logical, structured and valid, and support the conclusions reached by the paper. If the conclusions reached cannot be justified on the basis of the rest of the paper, or they ignore large portions of the literature, the manuscript will be rejected.


9. Language, writing and spelling issues

The language, structure of the paper, and any tables or figures need to be of good enough quality for the paper to be assessed; if this isn’t possible, then the paper will be rejected. It’s always a good idea to ask others to check your paper before you submit it – a second pair of eyes can help pick up any errors you might have missed. If you aren’t confident in your English writing skills, most publishers offer English Language Editing services which you can use before submitting your paper.


Check back next week for advice on what to do when your article is rejected.


Image credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock


    Dawn Peters
Dawn Peters
External Communications, Wiley


We live in a time of great discovery in science, medicine and technology. Yet, never before has there been such a trashing of the truth in the news. We are all witness to the unprecedented conception of fake news that seeks to undermine progress, deter attention from important issues, and intentionally mislead the public. What’s more, when misinformation is spread, it negatively impacts the reputation of research and scholarship in your field.


By working together—publishers, scholarly societies, the media—we can fight fake news with fact-based evidence, while generating public awareness of the importance of science and fostering greater trust and understanding around science.


As an associate partner of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ)—a non-profit organization with more than 50 member associations, representing 10,000 journalists from around the world—Wiley is delivering on its promise to societies to expand the reach and impact of sound research, science, and scholarship in every field. Through this partnership WFSJ journalists have complimentary access to Wiley Online Library (WOL), supporting their news stories with the latest scientific evidence published in its hosted journals.


Giving the media greater access to research helps to create connections between researchers, journalists, and ultimately, the general public. In fact, a recent Reader’s Digest article of the best sources of health news on the web cites a number of our publishing partners as trusted sources of information for people trying to maintain healthy lifestyles, understand a medical diagnosis or discover the latest treatment options.


Without access to authoritative research sources, journalists may also be more likely to   cite evidence published in journals which are highly accessible but lack proper peer review, retraction policies, and reliable archiving. According to a Newsweek article, there are thousands of predatory science journals where profits, as opposed to sound science, are the driving force.


At times it seems like fake news may win the day given the constant barrage of suspect headlines. However, there is hope in combating fiction with facts. If researchers, publishers and media work together to advance sound scientific knowledge, we can impact the spread of false information by improving access to creditable research and help educate the public to advocate for better health, preservation of natural resources, and social justice for all.


Image Credit: legenda/Shutterstock


    Fiona O'Connor
Fiona O'Connor
Society Marketing, Wiley

Mobile optimization is increasingly essential to reaching your society’s audience online. 62% of US online adults now expect a mobile-friendly website. To learn more about mobile optimization we chatted with Wiley marketing expert Liane Shayer.


Q. What is mobile optimization?
A. Mobile optimization means that an email or a website will offer an experience that is designed for a specific device (tablet or smartphone or laptop). The font may change to be more readable. Buttons may become bigger as the device becomes smaller. Content and images may be reformatted in a way that makes them suitable for the device. This is a little different than a mobile-friendly experience in which a website, for example, displays accurately on any device though it may not reformat itself.


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Q. Many experts now say that having a mobile-friendly site is essential. Why is mobile optimization so important?

A. According to a Return Path report released in July 2017, 55% of email is now opened on mobile devices. Desktop email opens have now declined to only 16% according to the same report. Mobile optimization is increasingly important to make sure customers have a good online experience.


Q. What recommendations do you have for organizations just beginning to build their mobile strategy?
A. Focus on your members. It is important to understand who they are and what they do when online. Build the online experience around this information.


One way to do this is to see what devices and browsers they are using. Email on Acid and Litmus are great tools for this. If an organization learns that six out of ten email opens occur via Gmail, or that close to 80% of mobile email opens are on a device running iOS, developers know what tools to optimize for.


Test to make sure the experience is what you expected and is seamless throughout. Providing a poor experience may cost an organization members. 61% of users indicate they are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing (per Google).


Finally, don’t forget about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and engagement metrics. Use the insights from these metrics to make informed decisions on changes that might be needed to optimized strategy.


Q. Are there any simple ways that an organization can improve the mobile optimization of their website?
A. There are quite a few easy ways that an organization can enhance the mobile optimization of their website:

    • Provide only essential information. Remember, mobile screens are much smaller than desktop and laptop screens.
    • Keep copy short and sweet and make it catchy.
    • Use a consistent structure throughout the site.
    • Provide a clear path to the call-to-action.
    • Use a larger font size and make sure it is easy to read.
    • Use checkable boxes and scrolling menu bars.
    • Make sure the site scales so that it looks good on the over 500 screen sizes found across smartphones, tablets, and laptops.


Q. Optimizing email for mobile is also important to effectively communicate with your audience. What can an organization do to ensure they’re reaching members on all devices?
A. According to emailmonday, 8 in 10 users will likely access email exclusively from mobile devices in 2018, so email optimization is key. Learn what the key devices are that members are using. Use this information to create a simple template that works across these devices and stick with it for all email outreach.


Q. As we start the new year of 2018, are there any trends to be aware of that may have a big impact on mobile optimization this year?
A. Voice and visual search are already a widely used part of a user’s activity on a mobile device. Organizations will need to begin to think about how their site is optimized for voice search and work with developers to make necessary updates. Another trend to watch is automation and machine learning. We are still waiting to see the full implications of this. Big data and analytics have already had a huge impact, but should stay on your watch list.


Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, or buy something. How an organization reaches people at these micro-moments will become increasingly important.


Further Resources

There are a lot of good sources of information on mobile optimization, including:








Image credit: Jonnystorey Ltd/Getty Images


Morgan Kubelka
Morgan Kubelka
Library Services, Wiley

How can sketches of a twentieth-century anthropologist-in-the-making tell us just as much about the field of anthropology as we know it today, as they can about the subject of the fieldwork itself?


When Arthur Bernard Deacon began his anthropological research of a South Pacific civilization in 1927, he couldn’t have predicted the value his meticulous field sketches would have on the legacy of the people of modern day Vanuatu or on the field of anthropology itself, any more than he could have foreseen his own untimely death.


But for a society unwittingly endangered by imperialistic influence and without extensive written history, it would be Deacon’s raw “I-witness” account of its customs, language and traditions that would not only enable it to be preserved for its future generations but to also be studied by many leading anthropologists and researchers to come.


A picture (or sketch) says a thousand words



Deacon’s original drawings and notes, a collection now long since cataloged in the archive of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (RAI), and recently accepted into UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program, capture that which posthumous secondary research cannot—the unmediated firsthand account of a vanishing culture and the methods by which a promising twentieth-century anthropologist might achieve these results.


Like many primary sources, Deacon’s drawings and field notes give us a glimpse not only into the research and the mind of the researcher himself, but of the historical context that colored the discipline and time period in which Deacon studied and lived.


Deacon’s sand drawing sketches, arguably the most widely renowned work archived in his wake, demonstrate the multi-faceted significance of such primary research. For one, the preservation of these sketches enables the continued practice of sand drawing, one of the most important traditions of Vanuatu both then and today. According to UNESCO, Deacon’s original drawings are “of great value to the people of the islands of Vanuatu eager to retain knowledge of their heritage,” as they continue to refer to these illustrations as a ‘how-to manual’ even in present-day.



Another significant element of primary research like Deacon’s is the light it sheds on the evolution of the scientific discipline itself. In this case, Deacon’s schematization of sand drawing-- or in other words, the structure he put around the creation of these fragile creations—reflects the anthropological concepts of ‘cultural patterning’ and ‘diffusion’ that were being popularized at Cambridge at the time Deacon studied. This idea illustrates the broader shift taking place from anthropology as a ‘natural science’ preoccupied with evolution to a ‘social science’ more interested in the psychology, culture and sociology of human populations.


Similarly, one of the unique opportunities offered by studying original materials is a glimpse at the intersection and interaction between the researcher and the historical context of the time. In Deacon’s case, it was clear from his sketches that to some extent, he too was more interested in the more social aspects of his research. While the prevailing western sentiment of Deacon’s time would have encouraged him to study the people of Vanuatu as a more objectified “primitive” species, Deacon often chose to annotate his notes with people’s first names, suggesting a more intimate respect for the people he studied.


Introducing archive collections into everyday research


The ability for modern-day researchers to interact with archival content is critical to the understanding of not only specific research areas in their discipline, but to understanding the evolution of the discipline itself. Without the integration of these sources into everyday research, huge amounts of historical context is lost or displaced, and researchers are left only to build upon the published interpretations and insights of their predecessors, robbing them of the opportunity to pursue new lines of inquiry themselves.


As a result, the archival collections found in historic societies and scholarly associations like The Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland aren’t something that should be considered supplementary, but rather integral to the process of research innovation and advancement. Making these collections widely accessible is critical to this objective, as digitization can now transcend many historic constraints and add a layer of discovery and engagement of primary sources we once never thought possible.


Now researchers will be able to find the likes of Deacon’s sketches without a travel grant to RAI’s offices, and to lend their own interpretations to the raw materials left behind in his and so many others’ wakes.


And who knows? It could be your field notes researchers are studying one day.


About Wiley Digital Archives and The Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Collection


The complete archive collection from the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland will be available on Wiley Digital Archives this spring. The notes, drawings, and recordings of Arthur Bernard Deacon (1903-1927) will be featured as part of the esteemed collection, along with original photographs, maps, drawings, reports, papers, surveys and more spanning 1871 to 1967.


To learn more about Wiley Digital Archives, visit www.wileydigitalarchives.com


RAI’s collection of the original drawings and notes of Arthur Bernard Deacon was awarded status of documentary heritage by UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program in 2012.


UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, established the Memory of the World Program in 1992 as part of a growing awareness of the precarious state of preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage in various parts of the world. The vision of the program is “that the world’s documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance.”


Pic 1: Schematized sand drawing of “The Turtle” (Photo credit: RAI)

Pic 2: Modern-day sand drawing in Craig Cove, Ambrym (Photo credit: Stephen Zagala)


Download the eBook, Making Historical Collections Accessible, to learn more about the digitization of primary sources.


     Shelley Williams
Shelley Williams
Author Marketing

With the growing amount of published medical research, it is increasingly imperative for authors and publication managers to find innovative ways of making their findings known. Savvy publication managers realize that the authors’ target journals can be much more than a static depository for their papers—journals can be valuable partners in helping promote the published research. Thus, choosing the right journal for industry-sponsored research now requires careful consideration of several factors in addition to the journal’s core submission requirements and its reputation.


Understand the journal’s impact

Choosing the right journal.jpgAuthors tend to equate journal impact with the “impact factor.” It is true that journals with a high impact factor (e.g., The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, or The BMJ) typically happen to be among the ones that are most widely respected by the medical community and are read by clinicians and researchers across specialties. However, many of these broad-scope journals are inundated with submissions and have very high rejection rates, reaching as high as 93% in the case of The BMJ.


Along with the authors, you might decide to target a specialty journal where there is somewhat less competition, but you would still want to thoroughly understand the journal’s metrics. Keep in mind that some journals use the term “impact factor” loosely, displaying their SCImago Journal Rank (SJR), which is based on Scopus, rather than their actual impact factor from the Journal Citation Reports (JCR), which is based on the Web of Knowledge. So you need to confirm that the number displayed on the journal website is (1) the actual impact factor, and (2) up-to-date (see how Cancer clearly mentions its impact factor and 2016 JCR ranking).


Both JCR and SJR figures are averages that are calculated on the basis of how many times a journal’s articles are cited. They are journal-level metrics and may not always reflect the amount of attention an individual article receives. An article could receive no citations at all, even if published in a journal with a reasonably high impact factor. Moreover, citations typically take time to emerge and are not the only indicators of how much of a ripple an article creates, especially among stakeholders who may not be actively engaged in authoring new research articles (e.g., health journalists, insurers, patient advocacy groups, health policymakers, or practicing HCPs whose main role is not research-oriented). At a basic level, article usage data (downloads, views, etc.) give you an idea of the online traffic a journal receives. More importantly, altmetric data show a paper’s coverage in the mainstream media and blogs, how many times it is tweeted about, or how many “likes” it gathers on Facebook. Journals like Annals of Neurology actively track and share altmetric data, and if you are considering such a journal, checking the altmetric score of a published paper relatively similar to yours in that journal can indicate the kind of engagement you can expect if you publish in this journal.


Understand the journal’s aims and scope—explicit and implicit.

A journal may be more “niche” than its name indicates. Take, for example, Histopathology (which aims to be of practical value to surgical and diagnostic histopathologists) and the Journal of Pathology (which deals with the pathophysiological and pathogenetic mechanisms of human disease). Besides checking the obvious—the “About” or “Editorial mission” sections—you should skim through the table of contents of some previous issues, and read a few editorials and published articles to get a better understanding of whether your article would be appealing to the journal. For example, Tobacco Control, which directly asks authors to “consider whether their intended submissions address issues or themes, which are likely to be of interest to researchers working in other nations,” is unlikely to be interested in a country-specific epidemiological survey on smoking prevalence. Further, not only manuscript format but also the submission process may differ by article type (especially for primary vs. secondary literature). For instance, NEJM typically does not publish unsolicited review articles, asking authors to submit a presubmission inquiry for such articles.


If the journal has a high impact factor, you should also critically compare your own research with its recent publications. Questions you can ask include “Is my sample sufficiently large and diverse?”, “Have I used the most sophisticated and rigorous methodology for data collection and analysis in the field?”, and “Are my findings going to interest the people who read this journal (across specialties and locations)?”


Moreover, the type of article you submit can affect how the journal positions and promotes it. For instance, Acupuncture in Medicine publishes a systematic review under Original Research but a narrative review under Education and Practice. Article type can also influence the level of access or position allotted to an article. For example, review articles in Orthopaedic Surgery can be accessed for free and are prominently displayed on the journal’s landing page.


Check for opportunities to improve your article’s visibility.

Mere publication does not guarantee that your article will be read by relevant stakeholders. Look for journals that actively “push” their content to their readers, for example, by offering authors the option of sharing read-only versions of their articles. Social media is a valuable tool for journals to reach out to readers and engage them with content, as in the case of Cancer, which actively disseminates its top articles through Facebook and Twitter. In addition, publishers like Wiley have also begun partnering with science news portals like Scimex, in order to disseminate groundbreaking scientific research as widely as possible in the mainstream media.


Several forward-looking journals have begun offering authors assistance in promoting their research, through multimedia solutions. For instance, the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology not only assists authors in putting together an audiovisual abstract that can be uploaded on YouTube and Vimeo but also advises them on using these abstracts to increase their findings’ visibility and enhance their professional reputations. Medical Education uses both podcasts and vodcasts (video podcasting) to engage readers. Remember that even if the journal itself appears niche or regional in reach, its publisher could provide article promotion support, as Wiley does for all its journals through various channels.


Look for journals that actively try to meet your readers’ needs.

Readers of medical journals, whether in the laboratory or clinic, have needs aside from just information. Journals often identify and cater to these needs in order to build a loyal and engaged readership. For instance, Transfusion allows HCPs to earn continuing medical education credits by reading certain articles and then passing a test on the content. Muscle & Nerve includes links on its homepage to connect readers with job opportunities in both healthcare and academia. HIV Medicine provides free guidelines on care for the diverse spectrum of patients whom HCPs in practice would encounter (e.g., pregnant women and adults with TB/HIV coinfection), as well as a fast-track process for manuscripts disseminating information critical for patient care. Obesity’s Patient Page provides information on the latest findings in the field in non-technical language, which HCPs can directly share with their patients.


Verify the journal’s reputation.

While most experienced authors probably know enough to not get duped by predatory journals and are aware of various whitelists and blacklists available online, you can never be too careful. Besides confirming your choice of journal with your colleagues or seniors, you can look up the editorial board members listed on the journal website and check resources like ThinkCheckSubmit.org and Retraction Watch, to make sure that the journal’s reputation does not inadvertently tarnish your article. For instance, the mass retraction of 107 papers by Tumor Biology in April 2017 was a heavy blow to its reputation. While even highly respected journals like JAMA Internal Medicine have retracted articles, the reasons for retraction and the frequency of such cases have a bearing on their reputation. So you need to do a “background check” of the target journal before submission, as you do want your findings to gain the trust they deserve.


Reconfirm that you can meet the journal’s special requirements.

Ultimately, it is no use submitting to an attractive journal if you cannot meet its basic requirements. For example, you need to make sure you have an ORCID ID before submitting a paper to Diabetic Medicine. The Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery will likely reject a paper on a non-invasive treatment strategy. Similarly, an article submitted to Tropical Medicine & International Health may not be considered if it relies solely on null hypothesis significance testing, presenting only P values.


Considering the recent ICMJE recommendations on data-sharing, it is advisable to revisit the submission guidelines of your target journals even if you have previously published articles in them. If you are submitting an article to, for example, JAMA or PLOS Medicine, on or after July 1, 2018, including an appropriate data-sharing statement will be essential for avoiding rejection. It also would not hurt to include such a statement before July 2018, and in fact might subtly give the impression of a high level of sophistication and dedication to following best practices in medical research.


In summary, choosing the right journal for a medical research submission goes beyond matching the journal’s aims and scope or looking for a high impact factor. Target the journal that gives you and your research the most benefits, making the most of facilities for presubmission inquiries, fast-track submissions, etc. Ultimately, selecting an appropriate journal to disseminate industry-sponsored research is crucial not just for getting the manuscript accepted but also for the findings to reach the most relevant stakeholders and translate into actual impact.


Image credit: Wavebreak Media/Getty Images


    Anna Ehler
Anna Ehler
Society Marketing

In the first Wiley Society Podcast episode of 2018 we have a conversation with Jesse Wiley, a 7th generation member of the Wiley family engaged in the organization, about his perspective on how societies are weathering the changes in scholarly publishing and taking advantage of the new opportunities that change opens up.



Listen to the previous episode: Are you ready to create a data policy?


You can listen to this episode and others – including our two-part data policy discussion with a multidisciplinary society panel – by going to iTunes and subscribing to the Wiley Society Podcast.


Image Credit: Sever180/Shutterstock


    Samantha Green
Samantha Green
Society Marketing, Wiley

Access to content is one of the cornerstones of society membership. Whether it is a suite of peer reviewed journals, or a member newsletter, content helps members develop a shared body of knowledge.


Shared knowledge, which allows members to be on the cutting edge and stay informed, is one of the most common reasons for engaging with research. In our 3rd annual Society Member Survey, we dig deeper into the question of content: why is it important and how do members want to receive it?



The people who respond to our survey engage with research for a variety of reasons, but the most common all have to do with being part of a learning community.


79% want to engage with research to learn new things, including those that could effect change. 63% want to be an active part of the community in their chosen fields, and 61% want to be informed when communicating with colleagues. The ability to access content is therefore essential for members to feel involved and engaged with their communities.


Society members engage with research more frequently than non-members. Members read or otherwise engage with content 15 times per month, compared to just 11 times for those who aren’t currently society members.


Our survey shows that content is important; it matters deeply to society members. To make sure that members are happy, easy access to content is essential.


When we consider access, we need to explore content format and delivery. A variety of formats, from research articles to newsletters and magazines, can attract members with different needs and different amounts of time to engage with research. Members also expressed different levels of interest for delivery methods ranging from electronic to print.


In terms of format, the research journal is the most important type of content to members. 91% indicated that the journal was important or very important to them. Other types of publications were less important, like newsletters (64%) and magazines (49%).


However, these informal publications can still be important, depending on where members and potential members are based. Not only do members who are earlier in their careers value informal publications more than older generations, but members from India and many African nations are more interested in these types of publications.


The desire for different delivery methods also varies. The vast majority, 92%, want access to digital PDFs of research journal articles. Equally important is an online journal, which 88% indicated was very important. Electronic delivery is, on the whole, the most desirable method of delivery for society members.


Members who are earlier in their careers and those who read research daily are more likely to prefer electronic delivery of their society content as well.


Personalized delivery is also something members want from their societies. As part of a community, members like to feel that their society knows them and knows what they want.


Sometimes, that means the latest content, research rounds ups and electronic table-of-contents emails can be very impactful for members. Other times, it might mean creating opportunities for discussion around content on social media and at conferences.


Members already use their mastery of content and deep knowledge of their chosen fields to build communities. Facilitating more connections around content and greater access to content through diverse channels opened up by technologies reinforces the connections between members and your journals.


For more from our 3rd annual Society Member Survey, visit our Member Resources site here.


Image Credit: Wavebreak Media/Getty Images


    Samantha Green
Samantha Green
Society Marketing, Wiley

From inventions that continue to shape our lives today, to philosophical and mathematical breakthroughs, China has always been a world leader in science and scholarship. Take a look at this illustrated history to see just a few examples of China’s profound contribution to the global research enterprise. (Click to enlarge)

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How to Structure a Review Report

Posted Jan 18, 2018
    Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

If you’re new to peer reviewing, deciding how to put together a review report can be tricky. We’ve put together the following tips and advice to help you get started. Remember, if you’ve been given a How to structure a review report.jpgformal report format to follow, you should do so. A formal report format will often contain a variety of questions, followed by sections where you can enter your comments. Try to answer as many of these questions as you can.


But what if you haven’t received a formal report format to follow? You might want to consider structuring your report around three main sections: summary, major issues, and minor issues. Let’s look at each of these sections in a little more detail:



In this section, you should make a brief summary of what the paper is about and what the main findings are.

  • Begin with any positive feedback you have – if you start off on a positive note, authors will be more likely to read your review. However, if you are recommending that the paper be rejected, just be careful not to overwhelm the author with negative feedback.
  • Try to put the findings of the paper into the context of the existing literature and current knowledge. What is the significance of the work? Is it novel, or does it confirm existing theories or
  • Give an indication of the main strengths of the work, its quality, and how complete it is.
  • Outline any major flaws you come across and make a note of any special considerations. For example, have any previously held theories been overlooked?


Major Issues

In this section, you’ll need to state any major flaws you find in the work, and how severe their impact is upon the paper. Major flaws might include:

  • Similar work having been published already without any acknowledgment from the authors of the paper.
  • If the authors’ work presents findings that challenge current thinking, is the evidence they present strong enough to prove their case? Have they cited all of the work that contradicts their thinking and addressed it appropriately?
  • Any major presentational problems – any figures and tables, the language used, and the manuscript structure should all be clear enough for you to accurately assess the work.
  • Ethical issues – you might want to consider disclosing these in a confidential comments section if you are unsure.


If any major revisions are required to the paper, make sure you clearly outline what these are.


Minor Issues

Finally, you should state any other minor issues that you’ve come across when reviewing the paper. These might include:

  • Any instances where meaning is ambiguous. Could these be corrected?
  • Incorrect references – should other references be cited instead, or in addition? State if you think references are excessive, limited, or biased in any way.
  • Any factual, numerical or unit errors – indicate clearly what these are.
  • Incorrect, inappropriate or insufficient labelling of tables and figures.


Don’t forget the purpose of your report; your aim should ultimately be to help the authors improve their work. Be polite and clear throughout, and remember to be both constructive and objective.


For further tips on putting together a review report, or to find out more about peer review in general, take a look at our reviewer resources pages.


Do you have any further advice on structuring a review report? Let us know in the comments below!


Image credit: mrmohock/Shutterstock

Samantha Green
Samantha Green
Society Marketing, Wiley

Curiosity is often held up as one of the most important qualities of a good scientist.  It is also a quality that brings success in education. In a meta-analysis published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, Sophie von Strumm reinforced this theory. Based on data from 200 different studies (encompassing 50,000 students) she found that conscientiousness and curiosity had equally big positive effects on academic performance, including traditional measures of intelligence.


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As von Strumm wrote, “I’m a strong believer in the importance of a hungry mind for achievement, so I was just glad to finally have a good piece of evidence. Teachers have a great opportunity to inspire curiosity in their students, to make them engaged and independent learners. That is very important.”


Many educational systems around the world focus on assessment or on retention of concepts. But countries like Finland prioritize curiosity. Whether bottom-up curiosity, when a novel event results in a desire to explore, or top-down curiosity, involving the intentional search for novel stimuli, curiosity impacts us on personal and interpersonal levels.


In a study on interpersonal impacts of curiosity, Kashdan concludes that curiosity is linked to greater tolerance, noncritical attitudes, unconventional thinking, and even the initiation of humor.


In many ways, curiosity is a coping mechanism. A curious person is better able to handle unwanted emotions or thoughts, as they are simply the start to questions and new discoveries. A curious person is also more likely to seek out the new, and is more accepting of conflict between what they know and contradictory information.


The nature of curiosity makes it a key indicator of whether an individual is susceptible to misinformation. Kashdan shares that “curious people are less likely to prematurely commit to initial ideas and perspectives. In fact, there is evidence that the need for structure and cognitive closure are not only inversely related to curiosity, but reside at the other end of the continuum.”


Curiosity for science learning can be curbed by societal and cultural expectations around who “likes” science and who does not. We are all influenced by the expectations of our communities, and when science, or media depictions of science, do not welcome girls or minorities, their natural curiosity for science may be diminished.


In addition, wonder may also have educational value when it comes to scientific literacy and an increased understanding of the world.


Whereas curiosity sparks inquiry, wonder is an experience. Says author Anders Schinkel, “curiosity implies the realization that there is some particular thing one does not yet know, but it doesn’t foreground the question of the general extent of one’s current knowledge (or ignorance) the way wonder does,”


In other words, curiosity familiarizes the novel and wonder de-familiarizes the known. Educationally speaking, wonder is critical for making us aware of the limits of our understanding. Wonder implies a drive to know meaning, but Schinkel also describes how deep wonder often translates into a love of the world and a sense of awe.


With wonder comes a desire to understand the world and ask questions. We should not, according to Schinkel, “be misled by the fact that deep wonder may render us speechless, because this should not be taken to mean that it blocks all speech, all efforts at articulation.”


In practice, education is about knowing and naming phenomena, whereas wonder is about the thrill of engaging with the world around us. This tension can result in classrooms where acquiring scientific concepts is the focus, over fostering curiosity and wonder in students.


Global scientific literacy, however, would likely benefit from connecting the two, fostering a love of learning and a hunger to know more about how science integrates with our everyday lives. Curiosity based education has the potential to improve scientific literacy overall and attract more young people to STEM fields.


The above is an excerpt from the forthcoming Wiley Report: “To Know the World: Transforming Science Communication and Literacy to Improve Research Impact.”


Image Credit: Hero Images/Getty Images


    Eva Lantsoght
Eva Lantsoght
Assistant Professor, Universidad San Francisco de Quito

A PhD research project is a treacherous thing: you get three to four years to work on it, and yet it manages to make time slip between your fingers in ways you never experienced. More often than not, you hear PhD candidates mention they’ll need an extension, or are writing their dissertations after funding runs out.


If you want to finish before financial worries kick in, managing your PhD like a project is an essential skill. You don’t need to take an advanced course in forecasting and scheduling, but some basic project management skills will go a long way.


In this post, I’ve identified seven essential tips that will help you stay on track with your research and focus on what’s important:

  1. Student in library.jpgIdentify your research question
    Your research question is the core of your work. You need to identify if a task is urgent or not, and important or not, to see where its priority lies. To know how important a task is, you need to know how it relates to your research question. At the beginning of your project, identify your research question and the related sub-questions. Let these sub-questions be your guide on determining the most important tasks you need to carry out to come to an answer foryour research question, and schedule your time accordingly.
  2. Master the literature
    You can’t define your research question before you have a good grasp of the literature. Don’t neglect your literature review as the cornerstone of your work.Read broadly and deeply, and frequently. Know your classics.
  3. Learn planning skills
    When you know what to do (your research question and its sub-questions), and you have the background to do it (the literature), you need to plan your time. Learn how to use calendars and to do lists to move your work forward. Plan per semester, per week, and per day. Don’t plan more than 75% of your time. Plan the most important elements, the “big rocks” first. Leave less important things like email and admin to fill the gaps in your planning at the end.
  4. Identify your checkpoints
    Add checkpoints to your planning. Use externally imposed deadlines such as conference papers that need to be written and meetings with your supervisor to finish certain parts of your research (and to document these!). Add self-imposed deadlines to make sure you finish your research and your dissertation within your allotted time.
  5. Use technology to your advantage
    Don’t become a slave to technology by trying out every possible time management app, but fill your toolbox with useful tools. Use cloud-based applications that sync across your devices. Use lists and calendars wisely. Delete applications that distract you or turn off notifications. Manage the literature with reference software. Make sure your documents are always backed up.
  6. Take notes
    You won’t remember the details of your experiments when you write your thesis. Keep a lab book and keep a research diary. Take notes about your work and your thought processes. Document your work along the way: how you prepared it, why you made certain choices, what your assumptions were, and which papers were crucial in coming to these decisions. Later on, you’ll be able to pull information from this source to put together a conference paper or dissertation chapter.
  7. Work with students
    Outsource a smaller sub-question of your research or a tangentially related question to a thesis student. Learning to work with students is an essential teaching skill necessary for your future academic career, and can teach you leadership skills that are generally valuable inside and outside of academia. You’ll also learn how to explain your work to somebody who is new to the topic, and you’ll enjoy the discussion with your student once he/she gets an understanding of the topic and comes up with his/her own novel ideas.


Image Credit: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/Getty Images


     Chris Graf
Chris Graf
Director, Research Integrity and Publishing Ethics, Wiley

Sally Rumsey.jpgCan we realize the vision of an efficient, interoperable research publishing system, and at the same time simplify the process for researchers to communicate and disseminate their research? Sally Rumsey, of Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries, recently visited Wiley to give us her wish list for scholarly communications, research data, and open access. On Sally’s list was everything she wants publishers like Wiley to gift-wrap for research authors so they can share their research in new, arguably better, ways. Sally challenged us by focusing on the difficulties she faces managing publishing, particularly open access and open data, for researchers within a large research-intensive institution. She shared her slides on the Oxford University Research Archive here. Then we asked Sally the three questions below to sum things up.


Q. Thanks, Sally, for visiting to share your thoughts on scholarly communications, research data, and open access. Why do you think we’re seeing flux and change in scholarly communications?

A. Researchers have a wide range of  tools and services available to them, which many are keen to use to enable them to disseminate their work widely, freely and rapidly. They include academic social networks, discovery and access services like Unpaywall and Open Access Button, and a wide variety of institutional and subject repositories. The rise in pre-print servers has been particularly noticeable of late. Plus there are emerging new models of peer review and publishing. Researchers are realizing that such services enable them to disseminate their work to a wide audience who can access the content easily. The concept of ‘open' as a ‘good thing’ (as opposed to a compliance box-ticking exercise) is being increasingly adopted. In addition, clear indications of quality of methods and reproducibility in science are increasingly major concerns for many.


Q. And what do these changes mean for the researchers that we serve?

A. Many researchers want to use, and are indeed already using, such new services. Some of the researchers I’ve spoken to like the control of choice of platform for the publication and dissemination of their outputs. Regarding research dissemination, researchers are not bothered about complex and baffling agreements and restrictions such as 'the work is only to be used on such and such a platform, from such and such a date, by only these people.' This seems like nonsense to them when they want the benefits of making their own work freely and widely available on the internet, whenever and wherever they choose. It’s a bit like saying ‘Here’s a fantastic sports car that you can use – but you’re only allowed to drive in third gear up to 20 mph.'


Q. How do you think we might continue to head in a direction that works well for researchers today?

A. In my opinion, instead of trying to change the practice of researchers employing such platforms to disseminate their work freely, change the rules. Researchers do not want to know about the minutiae of over-complex sharing options that publishers try to impose on them. Most want to disseminate their work widely and use the tools and services they choose. It is clear that many do not follow the conditions that are imposed on them. Rather than trying to put the genie back in the bottle, publishers could simply allow authors to distribute their work freely and immediately. Those of us providing the infrastructure (publishers, libraries, funders, national services, etc) can assist by aiming for an efficient, interoperable, system to make processes simple and, where possible, automated. That should include DOIs at acceptance, ORCIDs for all authors if possible, other identifiers such as funder and organization IDs, and the use of common and open standards.


Thanks, Sally. That’s certainly a vision for change.


Sally Rumsey (pictured) works at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford where she is Head of Scholarly Communications & Research Data Management.

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