Advancing with Advances (series 2): Perfecting Peer Review (part 3)

Expected reports from external reviewers

Guest post by RSC Advances Associate Editor: Professor N. Mariano Correa Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Argentina

When an Editor invites potential reviewers for an article, they know that a challenging journey is about to start.

We know that the scientific community is finite and that everybody is extremely busy, however, we also believe that peer review is vital for the publishing process. Thorough peer review upholds the quality and validity of publications and is a trusted process by the scientific community. The reviewers play a unique role in evaluating the scientific merit, originality, and accuracy of submitted articles before they are accepted for publication. This blog aims to shed light on the essential role reviewers play in the review process.

What does an Editor need from the external report?

  1. Impartial Evaluation: The external reports should come from experts in their respective fields who are not affiliated with the authors of the submitted article. This impartiality is crucial as it helps ensure that the review process remains unbiased and free from conflicts of interest. As they are not part of the author’s institution or research project, external reviewers can provide objective and unbiased feedback on the article’s strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Identification of errors and improvements: By carefully examining the submitted article we expect external reviewers to determine whether the research meets the rigorous standards expected within the scientific community. In their evaluation, they should identify potential flaws, inaccuracies, or unsupported conclusions. Highlighting these issues in the reviewer reports maintains the credibility of the journal and the broader scientific discourse.

It is also expected that the reviewers’ valuable insights and constructive criticism enable authors to address weaknesses and make necessary improvements, enhancing the overall quality of the article.

  1. Constructive feedback to the authors: One of the primary roles of external reviewers is to analyse the research methodology, experimental design, data analysis, and interpretation of results. By meticulously examining these aspects of the manuscript, reviewers can highlight any inconsistencies or errors in the research. Reviewer reports where concerns are clearly identified and explained are extremely valuable to the authors, it allows them to improve their manuscript and to potentially further their research. The reviewer reports (especially when the journal works under a single-anonymised scheme) should be constructive and polite.
  2. Reports on time: Last but not least, the time for the reviewer reports take to be submitted is extremely important. Everybody expects to receive a decision on their manuscript as quickly as possible but, this can be dependent on the time taken to receive the reviewers’ response.

Finally, the reviewer reports and the feedback they provide are critical to ensuring an excellent standard of scientific work. So please, next time you are invited to review a manuscript, think about how valuable your time and feedback are, and how potentially someone is also being asked to review your work too. This vital collaborative effort between reviewers and authors ensures the publication process upholds scientific integrity that drives progress and innovation. This is how the scientific world works.


We hope you have found this post useful. Tune in every Wednesday to catch the next instalment of Advancing with Advances: perfecting peer review. Next week, our experienced team of Associate Editors from a broad range of subject areas will provide insights into how they use your reviewer reports, and what aspects they find the most useful in making a decision on a manuscript.

Don’t miss out on our additional posts on perfecting peer review below:

  • Why should I write a report? Our in-house editors will provide guidance on the importance of peer review, why you may consider being a reviewer for a peer reviewed journal, and how to approach you reviewer report.
  • Interviews with Associate Editors: Our experienced team of Associate Editors from a broad range of subject areas will provide insights into how they use your reviewer reports, and what aspects they find the most useful in making a decision on a manuscript.
    • Part 4 – Featuring Dr Donna Arnold (University of Kent), Professor Brenno Neto (Universidade de Brasilia), Professor Beatriz Jurado Sánchez (University of Alcalá) and Professor Rodrigo Octavio de Souza (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)
    • Part 5 – Featuring Dr Giacomo Saielli (University of Padova), Professor Shivani Bhardwaj Mishra (University of South Africa) and Professor Leyong Wang (Nanjing University)
    • Part 6 – Featuring 10 Associate Editors

You are welcome to send in any questions you have about peer review or publishing with RSC Advances to or post them on X @RSCAdvances #AdvancingWithAdvances.

Check out more publishing tips and tricks from our Advancing with Advances: how to publish and not perish series!

RSC Advances looks forward to advancing the chemical sciences with you.

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