International Journal of Public Health and Health Systems
International Journal of Public Health and Health Systems is a peer-reviewed international journal, which is dedicated to publishing the latest public health research and health systems research, reviews and case studies from the field that will advance and shape the emerging discipline of global public health and health systems. The aim of this journal is to provide a thoughtful forum for contemporary issues and challenges in global public health and health systems research and practice. Manuscripts should follow the style of the journal and are subject to both review and editing.
Open Science follows the single blind peer-review procedure for submissions of all manuscripts to its journals. Single blind is the most common type of peer-reviewing in which the identity of the reviewers is not disclosed to the authors of the submitted manuscript concerned. The anonymity of reviewers allows for objective assessment of the manuscript by reviewers and also free from any influence by the authors on the reviewers comments.
Following are some important guidelines for reviewers when conducting peer-review of a manuscript for one of Open Science’s journals.
Criteria for Publication
1. Results reported have not been published elsewhere.
2. Experiments, statistics, and other analyses are performed to a high technical standard and are described in sufficient detail.
3. The manuscript is presented in an intelligible fashion and is written in standard English.
4. The research meets all applicable standards for the ethics of experimentation and research integrity.
5. Conclusions are presented in an appropriate fashion and are supported by the data.
6. The manuscript adheres to appropriate reporting guidelines and community standards for data availability.
To expand on each of these criteria:
1. Have the results reported been published elsewhere?
Open Science does not accept for publication work that has already been published elsewhere. However, studies that replicate results that are already in the literature may be considered for publication in Open Science, as the independent confirmation of results can often be valuable, as can the presentation of a new dataset (for example, a new clinical trial).
2. Are the experiments, statistics, and other analyses performed to a high technical standard and are described in sufficient detail?
The research must have been performed to a technical standard high enough to allow robust conclusions to be drawn from the data. Methods and reagents must also be described in sufficient detail so that another researcher is able to reproduce the experiments described.
3. Is the manuscript presented in an intelligible fashion and written in English?
Open Science does only minor English editing in the text of accepted manuscripts; it is therefore important for the work, as presented, to be intelligible. Perfect, stylish English is not essential but the language must be clear and unambiguous. If the language of a paper is poor, Reviewers should recommend that authors seek independent editorial help before submission of a revision. Poor presentation and language is a justifiable reason for rejection.
4. Does the research meet all applicable standards with regard to the ethics of experimentation and research integrity?
Research published in Open Science must have been conducted to the highest ethical standards.
5. Are the conclusions presented in an appropriate fashion with speculations and hypotheses identified as such?
The results must be interpreted appropriately, such that all conclusions are justified. However, authors may discuss possible explanations for their results as long as these are clearly identified as speculations or hypotheses, rather than as firm conclusions. Inappropriate interpretation of results is a justifiable reason for rejection.
6. Does the manuscript adhere to appropriate reporting guidelines and community standards for data availability?
Open Science aims to promote openness in research and intends that all work published in Open Science can be built on by future researchers. We therefore demand conformity to standards for the public deposition of data (for example gene sequences, microarray expression data, and structural studies). Other similar standards that are applicable to specific communities should also be upheld. Failure to comply with community standards is a justifiable reason for rejection.
Overview of the Editorial Process
Open Science tries its best to provide all authors with an efficient and "hassle-free" editorial process. Our aim is to identify those submissions that warrant inclusion in the scientific record and present them to the scientific community with as few hurdles as possible.
The editorial process is run by every journal's editorial board members who orchestrate the peer-review process. Reviewers evaluate the paper and decide whether it describes a body of work that meets the editorial criteria of Open Science. Editorial board members can employ a variety of methods, alone or in combination, to reach a decision in which they are confident:
1. They can conduct the peer review themselves, based on their own knowledge and experience
2. They can take further advice through discussion with other members of the editorial board
3. They can solicit reports from further referees
After appropriate consideration by the editorial board members, a decision letter to the author is drafted. There are several types of decisions possible:
1. Accept in principle
2. Minor revision
3. Major revision
Upon acceptance, the manuscript is checked by Open Science staff to ensure that it is in a form that will allow it to be efficiently handled by our production system. The authors will be queried and allowed to make any final minor revisions that are needed in the galley proofs.
This is the final stage at which authors will see their manuscript before publication. The authors' manuscripts will be carefully checked and final PDF file generated. It is therefore essential that authors provide a thoroughly proofread and checked manuscript, following the author checklist and any comments from reviewers.
Writing the Review
The purpose of the review is to provide the reviewers with an expert opinion regarding the quality of the manuscript under consideration. The review should also supply authors with explicit feedback on how to improve their papers so that they are acceptable for publication in Open Science journals. Although confidential comments to the reviewers are respected, any remarks that might help to strengthen the paper should be directed to the authors themselves. A good review would answer the following questions:
1. What are the main claims of the paper?
2. Are the claims properly placed in the context of the previous literature?
3. Do the experimental data support the claims? If not, what other evidence is required?
4. Who would find this paper of interest? And why?
5. In what further directions would it be useful to take the current research?
Fairness and Objectivity
If the research reported in this paper is flawed, criticize the science, not the scientist. Harsh words in a review will cause the reader to doubt your objectivity; as a result, your criticisms will be rejected, even if they are correct! Comments directed to the author should convince the author that (1) you have read the entire paper carefully, (2) your criticisms are objective and correct, are not merely differences of opinion, and are intended to help the author improve his or her paper, and (3) you are qualified to provide an expert opinion about the research reported in this paper. If you fail to win the author's respect and appreciation, much of your effort will have been wasted.
Other Questions for Consideration
In the case of manuscripts deemed worthy of publication, we would appreciate additional advice from the reviewer on the following:
Is the manuscript written clearly enough that it is understandable to non-specialists? If not, how could it be improved?
Have the authors provided adequate proof for their claims without overselling them?
Have the authors treated the previous literature fairly?
Does the paper offer enough details of its methodology that its experiments could be reproduced?
Open Science encourages authors to publish detailed protocols as supporting information online. Do any particular methods used in the manuscript warrant such a protocol?
This manuscript is a privileged communication. Please do not show it to anyone or discuss it, except to solicit assistance with a technical point. If you feel a colleague is more qualified than you to review the paper, do not pass the manuscript on to that person without first requesting permission to do so. Your review and your recommendation should also be considered confidential.
Open Science believes that an efficient editorial process that results in timely publication provides a valuable service both to authors and to the scientific community at large.
Editing Reviewers' Reports
Open Science staff do not edit any comments made by reviewers that have been intended to be read by the authors unless the language is deemed inappropriate for professional communication or the comments contain information considered confidential. Such remarks should be reserved for the confidential section of the review form. In their comments to authors, reviewers are encouraged to be honest but not offensive in their language. On the other hand, authors should not confuse frank and perhaps even robust language with unfair criticism.
Conflicts of Interest
If you feel you might have difficulty in writing an objective review, please return the paper immediately, unreviewed. If your previous or present connection with the author(s) or an author's institution might be construed as creating a conflict of interest, but no actual conflict exists, please discuss this issue in your confidential comments to the editor. If in doubt, feel free to contact the Subject-matter Editor who requested your review.
When submitting a review, a reviewer must indicate whether or not he has any competing interests. On occasion, reviewers may be asked to offer their opinion on a manuscript that they may have reviewed for some other journal.