Guidelines for Reviewers

The primary aim of these guidelines is to ensure that reviewers know their responsibilities and can prepare constructive critiques that will assist authors in their scientific research, regardless of the outcome (Acceptance/Rejection/Revision) of the peer-review process. The guidelines are organized into 10 essential points, followed by a more detailed description of each of the points raised.   We hope you find them useful.


Essential points

  1. Critically evaluate each manuscript in respect of:

                -its suitability for the Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs,

                -its novelty and general interest for readers of the Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs,

                -the validity of the experiments described,

                -the statistical analysis: is it included, is it complete and have appropriate tests been used?

                -the conclusions drawn: are they warranted?

                -whether the literature has been adequately cited and discussed,

  1. Provide specific, constructive criticism that gives clear guidance to the authors, especially if recommending revision i.e. it should be clear to the authors precisely what experiments/revisions need to be undertaken to satisfy the reviewer’s concerns
  2. Do not be overly demanding, remember the revision timeframe is only 3 months. (6 months if particularly time-consuming experiments have been requested)
  3. Make a clear recommendation: is the manuscript worth revising?
  4. Comment on whether the presentation/language, hinders/confuses an otherwise potentially good paper.
  5. Treat all information as confidential.
  6. Declare all conflicts of interest.
  7. Provide the names of all involved in reviewing the manuscript.
  8. Detail any scientific misconduct detected.
  9. For revised manuscripts, do not raise any new issues that could have been commented on in the original review.


Issues to be considered by reviewers

A: Before starting your Review

-Does the article you are being asked to review match your expertise?

If you receive a manuscript that covers a topic that does not sufficiently match your area of expertise, please notify the editor as soon as possible. Please feel free to recommend an alternate reviewer.

-Do you have time to review the paper?

Finished reviews of an article should be completed within two weeks. If you do not think you can complete the review within this time frame, please let the editor know and, if possible, suggest an alternate reviewer. If you have agreed to review a paper but will no longer be able to finish the work before the deadline, please contact the editor as soon as possible.

-Are there any potential conflicts of interest?

Whilst conflicts of interest will not disqualify you from reviewing a  manuscript, it is important to disclose all conflicts of interest to the editors before reviewing. If you have any questions about potential conflicts of interest, please do not hesitate to contact the receiving editorial office.

Note: Confidentiality

All information contained within a manuscript must be treated as confidential. Reviewers may not use data from the manuscripts for their own research/financial gain. Once a reviewer has submitted his/her report, any electronic/print copies of the manuscript in the reviewer’s possession must be destroyed. The reviewers will be able to cite the reviewed papers after the publication of the said paper in the journal.


B: During the review process

Many aspects need to be critically evaluated by the reviewer (relevance of the manuscript to the Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs’ readership;  the novelty of the study, technical aspects, discussion of the field under investigation and appropriate reference citation, language and presentation etc.). These aspects are discussed in the following section:

Suitability: Reviewers should comment on the scope of a manuscript in respect of its interest to the readers of the Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs. Reviewers should detail the reasons for such a recommendation.

Novelty: Reviewers should comment on the importance and originality of the study. Its strengths and weaknesses should be specified and presented in comparison with current published knowledge. Importantly, the review should note whether or not the study moves the field significantly forward.

Validity of experiments: Reviewers should comment on the validity of the experiments performed and the statistical methods used; any flaws (in logic, methods used etc.) should be noted. Reviewers should also detail whether the flaws preclude publication in the Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs, or suggest ways to overcome the issues, thereby improving the manuscript to an acceptable standard. All experiments reported should contain the following information:

-The number of samples used in each experiment, noting the number of replicates.

-Reproducibility (i.e. the number of times the experiment has been reproduced with similar results)

-What the error bars refer to (e.g. SD or SEM of n replicates/samples)

-Statistical analysis (the tests used, the comparisons made and the significance i.e. p values should be provided); wherever feasible, statistical analysis should be performed across all data sets obtained from independent experiments, rather than replicates of a single representative experiment, because the former gives an indication of experimental reproducibility, whereas the latter indicates technical reproducibility (e.g. pipetting accuracy).

Validity of the conclusions: Reviewers should comment on whether the data presented supports the conclusions drawn. In addition, reviewers should note when alternative hypotheses/conclusions have been overlooked.

Discussion of current literature: Reviewers should comment on whether the references cited are relevant, appropriate and up-to-date. Suggestions for revising the reference list can be made, noting when significant papers have been overlooked and why they should be included.

Language and presentation: Reviewers should comment on the presentation/ease of comprehension of the manuscript, including the quality and clarity of the figures. Reviewers are not expected to edit manuscripts but should state when the experiments/results/concepts/conclusions cannot be understood or may be misinterpreted due to poor writing. Reviewers should note and distinguish between, (i) good scientific studies that suffer from rectifiable language/presentation problems and, (ii) weak studies whose problems go beyond language/presentation issues.

Scientific misconduct: Reviewers should note when they suspect scientific misconduct has taken place, including but not limited to plagiarism, duplicate publication, and image manipulation beyond standard accepted practices. Any suspicion of ‘salami’ publishing i.e. publishing several very ‘thin’ studies containing only minimal data/ subsets of data rather than one very comprehensive and significant study, should also be noted.

Reviewers should also comment on:

The title of the manuscript;  does it accurately reflect the contents of the manuscript?

the length of a manuscript;  should the manuscript be shortened or expanded?

whether additional figures (including explanatory schematic diagrams) or supplementary information should be included?


Writing a Good Report

-Identify the key findings of the study: The overall goal(s) and key finding(s) of the study, together with its strengths and weaknesses, should be briefly summarised in a few sentences.

-Be comprehensive: All the issues raised in points 2a-g of the detailed instructions should be covered in the report.

-Be objective: The report should be objective. In addition, reviewers should respect the intellectual independence of the authors, and not insist on a hypothesis-driven approach.

-Provide a clear recommendation: The report should clearly indicate whether or not revising the manuscript in accordance with the reviewer’s comments will result in a manuscript of a standard acceptable for publication in the Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs.

-Provide specific, constructive criticism: Reviewers’ comments should enable the authors to improve their work. When weaknesses are identified, reviewers should offer concrete suggestions to overcome the flaws.

-Do not be unnecessarily demanding: While it is important and helpful to point out minor technical/presentation issues in the report, reviewers should remember to focus on the ‘bigger picture,’ i.e. is the study interesting and worthy of publication in the Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs? Reviewers should not request unnecessary experiments. For example, experiments which would have been nice to have been included, but which do not actually advance the study beyond the conclusions drawn, should not be requested. Reviewers should also bear in mind that the usual timeframe for a revision is three months (six months if time-consuming experiments have been requested) and they should be realistic in the level of additional experimentation that can be requested if recommending a manuscript for revision.

-Do not be offensive: It may be necessary to provide a very negative report if a study is particularly weak but, in such cases, reviewers should avoid being offensive or unnecessarily critical. Reviewers should stick to the facts and not launch very personal attacks. If a reviewer wishes to “let off steam” about a very poor study, these comments should be included in the ‘Confidential comments to the Editor,’ section of the report form.

-Disclose any conflicts of interest.


The Editorial Process

Decision process

The editors make the final decision on whether to publish the manuscript based on the reviewers' reports.

Conflicting reviews

If reviewers appear to disagree fundamentally, the editors may choose to share all the reviews with each of the reviewers and request additional comments, which may help the editors to reach a decision. Decisions are not necessarily made according to the majority rule. Experts may disagree, and it is the job of the Academic Editor to make a decision. Editors evaluate reviewer recommendations and comments alongside comments made by the authors and material that may not have been made available to reviewers.

 If you have questions or concerns about the manuscript you are reviewing, or if you need assistance submitting the review, please email us


Reviewer recognition

Reviewers invest a huge amount of time and expertise in the peer-review process. It’s crucial that they feel supported and recognized in their role. In order to ensure that this happens, the Journal  of Contemporary Urban Affairs has put several things in place,  including:

Reviewer certificate: Reviewers can request the certificate from the editorial office of the Journal Of Contemporary Urban Affairs. They can present it to employers, and their institutions. A reviewer confirmation letter is also available upon request.

Publons: Reviewers can obtain recognition for their valuable contributions to academic research; researchers can showcase a complete record of their reviewing activity as evidence of their subject-area expertise by using Publons. They can also earn “merit” points for their contributions.

Important Notes:

-  The total of a journal’s content should be subjected to blind peer review.

- The type of review is: Abstracted and Indexed, Refereed, Peer-reviewed.

 - Judgments of the manuscripts should be objective.

- Reviewers should have no conflict of interest.

- Reviewed articles should be treated confidentially before their publication.