|What is a reviewer looking for in a review article?
—a reviewer’s perspective
|We have been constantly asked by members of the biomedical community, particularly junior researchers, “How can we satisfy a reviewer for my reviewer article?” That is a fair question that also bothered our editorial team at LiTe Biomedical when we started our tenure in the field of research. Now, based on our experience as reviewers of scientific journals, let’s see what a reviewer is looking for in a review article. We hope this small assay will help you compose your next review article.
Even you are invited for writing a review article, your manuscript still needs to be reviewed. Publishers have their reviewing policies regarding review articles, but there are many aspects in common, which a reviewer would pay special attention to.
1. The article should be objective and balanced.
Writers for a review article usually are experts in the field, who may also have published fruitfully or at least are quite familiar with the area. This could create a bias in publication selection. We should avoid selecting papers that we “like”. A worse scenario is that the writers cite their own work heavily and overlook others’. This lack of objectiveness and balance would trigger an immediate rejection. Again, we should try to describe the whole picture of the field in an unbiased way.
2. The timeline of the manuscript should be most recent.
There is a widely accepted standard for paper selection, which is to choose papers in the past five years. But, we still can cite relatively old papers that have significant effects in the field.
3. The review article should be sensible in the topic.
Next, reviewers would focus on the topic of the review article. Usually, a review article has a well-defined, carefully-chosen topic, which should reflect the hot research spots in the field that are most interested to the members. We should avoid pouring too much information into one review article.
4. The specialty of the author(s) should be fit for the paper.
If the review article has a multidisciplinary topic, the writing team should involve authors in the respective subdiscipline. This authorship composition shall cover every corner of the selected subject.
5. The knowledge delivered by the review paper should be synthesized and easy to understand.
We should provide a systemically organized review paper with synthesized knowledge. The content in a review paper should be an interactive analysis of published papers in the field, rather than just a deposition of results. Moreover, the paper should be well-written and well-organized. Figures and tables should also be involved to make reading easier. We should carefully edit the paper in order to make the voice and the tense consistent.
In short, a well-composed review article should contain a carefully selected topic with synthesized knowledge. Figures and tables will facilitate readers’ understanding.