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Reviewer’s Guidelines

What To Assess

INNOVATION is a journal for authors whose work pushes the boundaries of what we know about biomedical sciences and how we apply that knowledge to patient care. As such, we encourage submissions that may not fit neatly into the Editorial and Publishing Policies of other journals. While INNOVATION Manuscripts must meet the criteria for publication described in our Editorial and Publishing Policies, we encourage Reviewers to consider each submission in the context of innovation, which will often challenge conventional thinking.
We take the role of the Reviewer very seriously here at INNOVATION. You are the critical link between the scientists and the public. As a Reviewer, we also consider you to be a mentor for younger scientists and a colleague to all scientists. That means that we expect reviews that offer CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM and DIRECTION rather than being pejorative. Here are examples of what to avoid as a reviewer:

  • Do not demand additional experiments unless they are truly required. Yes, there are always going to be additional experiments that will naturally follow from the submitted work. Do not make the demand that all of them be performed for this submission. Do not require additional experiments without clear justification for them.
  • Do not criticize the experimental design unless it is truly flawed. We require authors to perform power analyses to ensure statistical strength in their study designs and they must detail the experimental designs to enable independent researchers to replicate their work. Your job as the Reviewer is to ensure that these standards are met. Before demanding that an experiment be redesigned (hence, repeated), make certain that the submitted design is truly flawed.
  • Do not let your personal bias affect your review. We have invited you to review an INNOVATION submission because you are an expert on the topic of the manuscript. While we ask you to identify any possible Conflict of Interest associated with the manuscript, and we ask the authors to identify Reviewers who they would rather not review their submission, there are likely going to be times when you may find yourself reviewing a manuscript that you have an opposing viewpoint. If this happens, you are encouraged to recuse yourself as a Reviewer.

Instead, we encourage our Reviewers to comment on the following:

  • What is good about the innovation in the authors’ work? Here we are looking for Reviewers to see not only the immediate good that the innovation may offer, but to also consider the future direction the innovation may take. Like the authors, and we as publishers, you as the Reviewer will be part of a new standard in biomedical research where risk-taking and speculation are given the public platform they deserve.
  • If an experiment does, in fact, need to be redone, offer reasonable guidance on how to do this. Simply requiring larger sample sizes or completely overhauling the experimental approach without a clear justification does not help move the research program of the authors forward. We want our authors to be successful innovators and your role as the Reviewer is to help us make this a reality.

Conflict of Interest

You should not accept a review request if you have a potential Conflict of Interest. This could include:

  • Prior or current collaborations with the author(s)
  • You are a direct competitor
  • You may have a known history of antipathy with the author(s)
  • You might profit financially from the work

Please inform the INNOVATION Editors or journal staff that you would like to recuse yourself if you are uncertain that you can provide an impartial review.
When submitting your review, you will be required to indicate whether or not you have any Conflicts of Interest.


We ask that Reviewers accept the assignment within 3 days of the initial request and that they complete and submit their review within 10 days of acceptance.


If you need more time or cannot complete the review, please notify us immediately so that we can inform the authors and assign a new Reviewer.


Reviewers are required to maintain strict confidence and not share information about any submission they review, unless permission is obtained from an INNOVATION Editor. Third-party involvement in the review must be declared when the review is submitted.
All correspondence associated with the review process must also be treated confidentially by all parties.
We expect that Reviewers will not make use of any material or take advantage of any information they gain through the peer review process.

Writing the Review

INNOVATION uses the Reviewer Form on the ScholarOne Manuscript website to guide your review and ensure that the submission meets Publication criteria. Click here to preview the Reviewer Form.


Use this section to offer CONSTRUCTIVE criticism to the authors about their work.
Avoid the temptation to have authors redesign experiments unless you can justify the need for it.
If you do request that the authors redesign an experiment, offer suggestions on the best approach. Remember, we encourage our Reviewers to be mentors and colleagues for our authors.
Keep an open mind. We encourage submissions that push the boundaries of science. Innovation often jars our sensibilities. Make sure this is not influencing your comments.

Comments to the author

This section includes questions about whether the submission meets INNOVATION’s Publication criteria.
The answers to all questions in this section are required and will be included in the decision letter to the author.
The specific questions in this section focus on the following:

  • Technical validity
  • Value of the innovation
  • Analytical rigor – this includes data analyses, statistics and synthesis of conclusions
  • Writing clarity using English language

Confidential to the Editor

In this section, reviewers must declare any potential or perceived Conflict(s) of Interest that may influence their review.

Editing Reviewers’ reports

INNOVATION Editors and staff do not edit Reviewer’s comments to the authors, with the following exceptions:

  • We reserve the right to edit language considered unprofessional, offensive or inappropriate in the context of the assigned review. While honesty in the review is required, Reviewers are requested to constrain their comments to the submission and not level comments at the authors without significant justification.
  • We reserve the right to edit proprietary or confidential information that should not be included in the review. All Conflict of Interest statements must be entered in the appropriate section of the Reviewer Form, where only the Editors will have viewing rights.


Reviewers are anonymous by default. Reviewers’ identities are not revealed to authors or to other reviewers unless reviewers specifically request to be identified by signing their names at the end of their comments.

Decision process

The final decision on a manuscript is made by the INNOVATION Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editors. Their decision is based on the Reviewers’ comments, the INNOVATION Criteria for Publication and the Editors’ own assessment of the manuscript. When Reviewers disagree, Editors input will resolve the decision, which will not necessarily reflect the majority decision.

Notifying Reviewers of decisions

We email Reviewers’ comments and the decision letter to all Reviewers of the manuscript. If Reviewers have identified themselves, their identities will be passed on to other Reviewers.
Reviewers whose final decision does not match the final decision should recognize that their input was given full consideration and that we fully appreciate their contribution. As must be expected in the realm of innovation, experts will often disagree, leaving it up to the Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editors to make the final decision on a manuscript.


When an author revises a manuscript, the Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editors will ask the original Reviewer(s) to evaluate the authors’ revision. We expect the Reviewers to be available to conduct the follow-up review.
Revised manuscripts are indicated with the letter “R” in the manuscript number (e.g., R1, R2, R3, etc.). The invitation letter to the Reviewer will also indicate that the manuscript is a revision.

Become a Reviewer

INNOVATION promotes peer review by respected members of the biomedical research and clinical community. Our reviewers are charged with assessing the quality and credibility of manuscripts submitted to INNOVATION.


INNOVATION’s Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editors select potential peer reviewers based on their expertise in the scientific field and/or clinical specialty focused on in the submitted manuscript.


If you are interested in reviewing for INNOVATION, you may contact INNOVATION at indicating your field of research, a brief overview of your expertise and your cv.


Peer reviewer invitations are sent by email from INNOVATION’s Associate Editors. You will be asked to RSVP to the invitation to be a peer reviewer if you have the time and neutrality to ensure that the manuscript receives a fair reading.