Format and Author Choice

Peer review at Episteme Health journals is:

  1. Single-blind by default or double-blind if requested or required
  2. Optionally signed - reviewers are anonymous but may sign their reviews
  3. Public summary - reviewers write a summary of their review for publication but the bulk of their review remains confidential

Standard peer review requires consultation with at least two appropriately qualified reviewers or at least one reviewer if external reviews can be transferred.

Editorials, Professional Perspectives, and Correspondence articles are exempt from peer review and reviewer qualification requirements. However, editors may still solicit reviews for these submissions.

In all cases, reviewers should pay regard to Committee on Publication Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers.

Single-Blind Review

Our standard single-blind approach involves author identities known to the reviewers, but reviewer identities are not revealed to the authors unless they sign their reviews. It is offered as the standard review approach because it is the most common approach used.

Double-Blind Review

We use double-blind review in specific circumstances to manage conflicts of interest and bias. Double-blind review is required when:

  1. One or more authors are officers or members of the committee of management of Episteme Health Inc.
  2. One or more authors have senior editorial roles with the journal, such as managing editor or editor-in-chief

Additionally, authors may request double-blind review if they have concerns about their manuscript being unfairly treated by reviewers.

It is up to authors to remove identifying information from manuscripts submitted for double-blind review including:

  • Names and affiliations in the body of the text
  • Identifying phrases (e.g. “As we have previously shown…")
  • Document metadata or file properties
  • Identifying content or metadata in datasets (some services provide anonymous links for datasets)

Reviewers of double-blind manuscripts are asked not to search for preprints that would identify the authors.

Qualifications

Reviewers must have a relevant PhD or an equivalent track record (at least 3 relevant publications in reputable scientific journals). Reviewers must be in good standing in the academic community with no history of scientific or general misconduct.

Reviewers asked to perform a specialist review should have or be enrolled in a PhD or have at least 1 relevant publication in a reputable scientific journal.

A PhD or publication track record is not required for reviewers of Editorials and Professional Perspective articles.

Collaborative Review

Reviewers who do not have a PhD or publication track record may review papers in collaboration with an author who is qualified. For example, a senior PhD student may review papers with their supervisor in order to gain experience with the peer review process.

Qualified reviewers who wish to involve their students, junior researchers, or colleagues in peer review must first advise the editor and abide by the editor’s decision if they object. In cases where a student or junior researcher performs the review under the guidance of a qualified reviewer, this should be noted and the student or junior researcher should be acknowledged as the reviewer of record.

Authors wishing to publish their preprints with the journal may use a collaborative journal club review process, where their preprint is assessed by journal club teams on the PREreview platform. This may partially replace individual peer reviewers at the editor’s discretion.

Specialist Review

Editors may invite additional reviewers to comment on specific parts of a manuscript, such as a methodology, statistics, compliance with reporting guidelines, or quality of references and citations. Reviewers may recommend that an editor invite a specialist reviewer at any point by contacting the editor.

Open Peer Review

We believe that the peer review process is primarily to assist editors in making decisions and authors in improving their papers. For this reason, we ask reviewers to write a short public summary of their review to assist readers in understanding the importance and limitations of a particular paper. These public review summaries, along with the reviewer’s identity (if signed), are published along with the paper.

The full peer review report, the editorial decision letter, previous versions, and reviewer identities (if unsigned) all remain confidential. Manuscripts are not made available for public commenting prior to publication.

Peer Review Transfer

Where authors are able to transfer peer reviews, editors may accept papers after consulting with one additional reviewer. Transferred reviews must be subject to equivalent ethical standards and the identity of the reviewers must be known to editor handling the manuscript. Editors are not obliged to accept transferred reviewer comments. Currently, Episteme Health accepts peer reviews transferred from Peer Community In.

Complaints and Concerns

Complaints about peer review will be handled in accordance with our Complaints and Appeals policy.

Reviewers who have concerns about the integrity of a manuscript should let the editors know immediately. They can do so either by describing their concerns in the confidential sections of their review report.

Responding to Suspicions of Ethics Violations

The editor handling the manuscript should, in cooperation with the Editor-in-Chief and/or a Research Integrity Editor (unless doing so would create a conflict of interest) investigate the concerns. In the first instance, the authors should be given a chance to respond. However, if their response is unsatisfactory, the editors should reject the paper. If misconduct is suspected, the editors should also inform the authors' institution(s), but without revealing the reviewer’s identity. In accordance with Committee on Publication Ethics guidelines, the Editor-in-Chief may also share information about the possible misconduct with other Editors-in-Chief without revealing the reviewer’s identity.

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