The Spine Journal Reviewer Guidelines

Introduction

High quality, timely reviews of manuscripts submitted to The Spine Journal are critical to the quality and success of the journal. The dedication of reviewers is greatly appreciated by everyone involved in the publishing process. 

General Guidelines for Reviews

DOs

  • Critically review the manuscript to help assess if the paper would be of interest to the TSJ readership and advance the spine field.
  • Be systematic in your reviews. Please see below for suggestions on “writing a review.”
  • Include specific comments about strengths, weaknesses, and points to address.
  • Do a thorough review. It is not helpful to get a cursory review of an original submission that states, “good article” with a recommendation to accept. Your opinion that it is “good” needs to be substantiated. In contrast, we do not need a 3-page tome.
  • Respect the time limit for reviews of 14 days.

DO NOTs

  • Do not be overly critical of the work—remember that we want reviews to be constructive to the authors and helpful to TSJ editors in their editorial decision-making.
  • You do not need to correct systematic grammar, but you can make a general comment about this if you find it to be an issue for the paper, such as “grammar should be carefully re-reviewed.”
  • Very rarely should a manuscript be accepted as originally submitted.
  • Do not recommend revision if you do not think that the requested changes would make the paper good enough to be accepted.

 

Writing a Review

Comments to authors (the review)

Make sure that you write in a way that is professional and polite. As you describe your recommendations for the authors, group them so that common issues are addressed together (e.g., literature review omissions, statistical concerns, etc.). These comments will guide manuscript revisions. When the issues to be addressed are organized and written clearly, the revision will be better and easier to re-review for all involved in the editorial process.

 

 There are no hard-and-fast rules for your review structure, but consider the following as a guide. It is recommended that reviewers compose their comments “offline” for ease of editing and then copy and paste this into the online system later.

  • Overview- a brief recap of the work
    • A sentence or two summarizing the paper’s approach and major findings shows that you read and understood the paper.
    • Describe the positive features of the research (e.g., the novelty of the research methods/questions, diversity of the sample, etc.).
      • Highlighting the positives can be just as important as documenting your critiques.
    • Provide a concise overview of your major concerns and reservations about the work.
    • The remainder of your review should highlight point by point what you perceive as any major issues that could be addressed in order to make the paper publishable.
    • If it is clear that the paper will not be acceptable, your review can be short and focused. There is no need to elaborate extensively if it is clear that it will not make sense to accept the paper.
    • Please do not directly comment on whether the manuscript should be published or not.
  • Background
    • What is the study’s hypothesis and does it make sense?
    • Is the subject of the research relevant to spine care providers/researchers?
    • Does the research fill a knowledge gap that has not previously been addressed in the literature?
    • Have similar articles been published on this topic? If so, is the submitted study bigger, better, and/or more meaningful?
      • This can be partially assessed by reading the reference list and the introductory paragraphs.
      • Consider if other related papers have been published on the topic being studied.
    • Methods
      • Does the study design make sense?
      • Are the statistical analyses appropriate and correct?
      • For clinical studies: is the sample large enough, the control group reasonable, the follow up time adequate, the loss to follow up acceptable?
    • Results
      • Are the results reported clearly?
      • Do the figures and tables effectively support and bring clarity to the manuscript?
        • Are they present and appropriately referenced in the manuscript?
      • Discussion
        • Are the findings of the study adequately discussed?
        • Are the conclusions drawn adequately supported by the results?
        • Are there any alternative explanations for the findings?
        • Did the authors adequately acknowledge the limitations of their work?
        • Are there any important conflicts of interest? Who sponsored the research?
      • References
        • Does the reference list include the most important studies published on the topic?
        • Is the reference list up-to-date or are key studies published in the past few years not properly included?
        • Feel free to provide any suggestions about other pertinent studies which you believe should be referenced and discussed.

 

Comments to editor (optional)

  • This section is optional, but please do not hesitate to write a note to the editor.
  • This is for concerns or comments that you do NOT want the authors to see.
    • For instance, if you suspect strong bias or a duplicate submission, that would be something that the editors should be made aware of but is not something that a reviewer needs to “call out” in a review.

 

Mechanics of Submitting a Review

  • Log into the TSJ Editorial ManagerTM
  • Select the action link “Submit Recommendation.”
  • Once on the review page:
    • Recommendation: select from the drop-down list for your recommendation for the paper. Options include:
      • Accept as Submitted - The paper is acceptable and no revision is necessary (unusual on a first submission).
      • Minor Revision Required - The paper probably will be acceptable, but some revisions could make it better.
      • Major Revision Required - The paper may be acceptable, but there are real issues to be addressed.
      • Reject - The paper would not be acceptable, even if revisions are performed.
    • Reviewer comments to author: It is suggested that you compose your review in Microsoft Word, or an equivalent program, to take advantage of functions such as spell check, bullets, etc. These can then be cut and pasted into this section. Recommendations for writing a review are included on the TSJ  In general:
      • Briefly summarize the study.
      • Describe the positive features of the research.
      • Provide a concise overview of concerns and reservations about the work.
      • The remainder of your review should highlight point by point what you perceive as any issues that could be addressed in order to make the paper publishable.
      • If it is clear that the paper will not be acceptable, your review can be short and focused.
      • Please do not directly comment on whether the manuscript should be published or not.
    • Reviewer confidential comments to the editor:
      • This section is optional, but please do not hesitate to write a note to the editor.
    • When you are ready to submit your review, click the “Proceed” button (note that there is also a “Save and Submit Later” button if you would like to come back later to submit).
    • After you submit your review, the TSJ Editorial Manager system will automatically send you a confirmation email.
    • Please remember that the manuscript is a privileged communication for your personal review. Please do not refer it to anyone else for review without prior approval by the editors. It is the property of the author and should not be reproduced or disseminated by you in any way.
    • Thank you for your help. If you have any questions, please contact the editorial office at [email protected].
Advertisement