Advancing with Advances (series 2): Perfecting Peer Review (part 6)

Interviews with Associate Editors

Our Associate Editors offer some Advice

At RSC Advances we have a team of around sixty-five hard working Associate Editors, who handle your manuscript, from initial assessment to their final decision. They are active researchers and experts in their respective fields, and therefore have an in-depth understanding of what it takes to get work published.

To gain more insight into the world of peer-review, we have asked our Associate Editors two questions:

  1. What are the most important points for a reviewer to include and discuss to help guide your decision?
  2. When you act as a reviewer, how do you approach this task and what are the initial steps that you take when assessing a manuscript?

Here are what some of our Associate Editors had to say:


What are the most important points for a reviewer to include and discuss to help guide your decision?

When an Editor is searching for reviewers, they typically seek individuals who possess greater familiarity with the articles specific topic.

Therefore, a reviewer should:

  • Begin with a short summary: Summarise of the main points developed in the article, and subsequently demonstrate to the Editor how that work fits within the existing literature, highlighting the major contributions made by the research group.
  • Evaluate the potential impact, novelty and significance of the study: Does the study address a specific gap in the field, or build upon previously published manuscripts. This knowledge aids the interpretation and determination of the expected impact of that contribution.
  • Point out the merits and drawbacks of the study.
  • Be constructive, provide feasible suggestions about how to improve the overall quality of a manuscript.
    • Suggest additional experiments that are scientifically relevant for the author to consider
  • Check the data in the article and the supporting information. Does data presented adequately support the conclusions? Is there anything that can be added to the document to validate their findings?
  • Comment upon the any lack of expertise (if any) in any part of the manuscript the reviewer may have.

When making your final recommendation, take care explaining the recommendation. It is important that the reviewer considers the point of view of the authors, and when making your recommendation, convince the authors and editor in a way that you would like to receive as an author. This point is also very important for the decision of the Editor, which has to be motivated upon factual and sound comments.

“It is of great importance to the editors that the reviewers can interpret the data presented by the authors and, whenever possible, offer an alternative perspective to what is being presented, either through direct questions or comments.” – Professor Rodrigo Octavio de Souza


When you act as a reviewer, how do you approach this task and what are the initial steps that you take when assessing a manuscript?

“I read the abstract and conclusion. If needed, I look quickly at specific results (graph, table, etc.) and evaluate novelty, and originality. If needed, I look for other bibliographies to be sure how the work places in the literature. Then, I read the article carefully, taking notes, before writing the report.” – Professor Camilla Abbehausen

“As a reviewer, initially I check the Abstract and conclusion to get the brief idea on important achievements of the paper. Then I try to look for the novelty and impact of the work as compared to existing literature on similar studies. From the introduction and literature survey, I judge whether the claimed contributions are justified.  I check the important results and the presentation skills of the data with in-depth discussion on the mechanisms involved. Whether authors have provided enough discussion on the important results with insights from the supported experimental or theoretical insights are checked to know more about the quality of the work.” – Dr Chandra Sekhar Rout

“Usually I have a first general look at the paper, the title, how it is organized (hence the importance of subtitles structuring the subparts in the R&D), and at the figures and schemes. I then carefully read the abstract, which I expect to match the first impression I’ve just had. I then take a look at the literature with the keywords I’ve identified. Finally, I take a detailed reading of the paper in this order: introduction, results and discussion, experimental methods and supporting information.”

  • Experimental data should be well-presented and clearly explained to the reader.
  • Sometimes over-selling the work leads to a suspicion. There are many fashions in chemical sciences and can be used and even manipulated to over-sell results. This feeling prompts me to check even more closely what could be wrong.”

Dr Fabienne Dumoulin

“When acting as a reviewer, I first read the abstract, then the conclusion, then the last part of the introduction which usually summarizes the global methodology. Then, I go through each of the figures and schemes, keeping in mind the points stated in the aforementioned sections. Doing this, I can link the main features of the article with the major points that the authors have focused on. Also, I can then draw my own conclusions on some points of the research outcomes. Only then, I read the whole article to thoroughly assess it.” – Professor Franck Dumeignil


As a reviewer, consider the following points when assessing and considering a manuscript:

  • Whether the manuscript fall within the scope of the journal, e.g. for RSC Advances, does this work have sufficient chemistry contributions
  • Are the aims, the rationale, and the outcomes of the study clearly stated in the abstract and introduction sections
  • Is the literature search sufficient for the study
  • Is the methodology of the study described in detail to allow for its reproducibility
  • Are the results supported by appropriate statistical analyses
  • Are the figures and/or tables clear and relevant
  • Are the interpretation of results supported by the experimental results
  • Is the discussion section of the study constructed well. Are any strengths, limitations, and future directions recommended and stated by the authors
  • Are the conclusions consistent with the results and discussion? Consider what question is being addressed
  • Identify any misleading or ambiguous information or results that should not be published


That wraps up our series Advancing with Advances: perfecting peer review. We hope that you find these insights useful when considering your next reviewer report!

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.
  • Expected reports from external reviewers: An introduction by Professor N. Mariano Correa, who will use his experiences to highlight what a reviewer report should cover.
  • 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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