notes for referees

The task of a referee involves three main components: speed, confidentiality and thoroughness. These are, to some extent, conflicting, and the following notes may be of assistance.

If you feel there is any conflict of interest, either real or perceived, in carrying out your review, please refer to the Ethical considerations below.

1. Speed

Unless the data article is of exceptional length or complexity, your report should be despatched within one week of receipt of the data article. If you are unable to act, please let the Co-editor know immediately. You are welcome to suggest an alternative referee.

2. Confidentiality

Articles should be treated as confidential. In exceptional cases you may find it desirable to discuss the data article with one of your associates; if you wish to do so, please let the journal know first. It is your responsibility to ensure that the data article is only seen by that individual and is not read by others. The names of any individuals who have helped with the review should be declared so that they are associated with the data article in our records. Under no circumstances should the data article or any copy of it be retained.

The Editors do not reveal the identity of referees to authors. If, nevertheless, you wish to correspond directly with the author, the first contact should be made through the Editor or Co-editor.

3. Thoroughness

It will be helpful if you keep the following points in mind both in reading the data article and in writing your report:

  • (a) Is the work original and new?
  • (b) Is the work sound and technically up-to-date? Are the conclusions firmly based on the observations or reasoning given?
  • (c) Are there any aspects of the data article for which you would like to suggest another referee?
  • (d) Is the Abstract an adequate summary of the data article? Abstracts should, as far as practicable, be 'informative' rather than 'indicative'; that is, they should contain the most important numerical and other results, and not merely state that such results are given in the data article.

Finally, if you have suggestions that would make the article you are reviewing more accessible to a wide readership, please include these in your report.

4. Ethical considerations

IUCr publications are members of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and follow COPE guidelines on publication ethics. Referees are asked to follow the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers when handling data articles for IUCr publications.


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