Peer Reviewer Guidelines


Your work as a reviewer of contributions to IGHPE is extremely important to us. Your review helps us select innovative works and ideas that fit into IGHPE’s profile, and it helps our authors to further improve their work through a critical dialogue with experts from the same area. Please review submitted work in the same way you would like to see your own work reviewed. If you are an experienced reviewer, many of the following peer reviewer guidelines will sound familiar to you – in this case, please regard them as a refresher highlighting some special demands of IGHPE.

General peer review issues

Peer review ethics: Besides critical points, in your review always try to highlight the strengths of the work as it will encourage the authors in their research. Needless to say, but worth mentioning: derogatory, libelous, or person-centered defamatory comments have no place in a review. Reviewers are invited to familiarize themselves with the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Peer review timeline: IGHPE aims at a timely editorial process for submitted work. Thus, please do not accept an invitation for peer review if your schedule and current duties do not allow a review within three weeks. If you agree to review a submission, please also keep in mind that it is good peer review practice to re-review a work revised according to your suggestions. Novice reviewers: Guidelines on peer reviewing are included below. However, inexperienced reviewers may benefit from the following articles:

  1. Christensen NB, Yokomizo A. How to peer review. Int J Urol. 2010 Sep;17(9):754. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2042.2010.02622.x
  2. Eassom, H. How to structure a review report. 2018 Jan 18 [cited 2018 Jan 18]. In: Discover the Future of Research [Internet]. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. c2000- [about 2 screens]. Available from
  3. Nicholas KA, Gordon W. A quick guide to writing a solid peer review. Bull Ecol Soc Am. 2011 Oct; 92(4):376-381. doi: 10.1890/0012-9623-92.4.376
  4. Raff J. Violent Metaphors. [blog on the Internet]. [place unknown]: Jennifer Raff. 2013- . How to become good at peer review: a guide for young scientists; 2013 Dec 13 [cited 2016 Dec 1]; [about 11 screens]. Available from:
  5. Sonnenberg A, Boardman CR. How to review. Gastrointest Endosc. 2013 Aug;78(2):343-5. doi: 10.1016/j.gie.2013.01.031.
  6. Gallo T, Sklar D, Stevens C. Advice from a master peer reviewer. Academic Medicine Podcast [podcast on the Internet]. [Washington, DC]: Academic Medicine; 2018 [2018 Sep 4]. Available from:
  7. Stiller-Reeve M, Vaughan G, Wake B. A peer review process guide [Internet]. Bergen, Norway: SciSnack; 2018 Apr [cited 2018 Oct 10]. 5 p. Available from:


IGHPE peer review policy—main points

  • All communication related to a submission is kept strictly confidential, and the same is expected from our reviewers.
  • IGHPE editors will select two peer reviewers who are experts in the areas of the submitted work.
  • Reviewing is double-blinded. Authors do not know the identity of reviewers; reviewers do not know whose work they are reviewing.
  • Author(s) cannot exclude or select reviewers of their work.
  • Editors can directly recommend publication of a submitted work, for example, if it offers groundbreaking insights into a highly debated topic.
  • Average time from submission of a work to IGHPE to editorial decision is four to six weeks.


Considerations before accepting an invitation for peer review

Conflicts of interest: Please decline an invitation for peer review if there is any potential conflict of interest between you and the author(s) of a contribution that would lead to a biased review. None of these conflicts will lead to your removal from our list of reviewers – a case of conflict just means that you should refrain from reviewing the particular work sent to you. Possible conflicts of interest include, but are not restricted to:

  • Any financial interest connected to a submitted work, especially financial gain from publishing a work submitted to IGHPE
  • Personal relationships with the author(s)
  • Previous or current cooperation with one or more authors—including being supervisor/employer or being supervised by the author(s), respectively by her/his/their company or research group
  • A history of open conflicts with the author(s)
  • Direct competition of your own work with the submitted work or with the author(s).

If you are in doubt whether a conflict of interest exists, please do not hesitate to ask the editorial office at for advice. Familiarity with the format: Peer-reviewed publications of IGHPE may have formats beyond the ‘classical’ research article structure (introduction, methods, results, discussion) – qualitative research articles, concept descriptions, as well as audio and video productions. Before accepting the review of a submission, be sure that you feel familiar with the contribution’s format and specific considerations for reviewing, e.g., qualitative research (see below).

Confidentiality of the peer review process

The editors and the editorial office of IGHPE will keep the submitted work and any communication related to it strictly confidential. We expect the same from our reviewers. For training purposes, you can include a graduate student in authoring your review, just please inform us about this. Viewing the submitted work is restricted to you (and, possibly, a peer review trainee), and you should not comment about the work to other people. After you have completed your review, please destroy the submission mailed to you. If you wish, you may add comments about your submission in a confidential part of your review. However, the tone of the review visible to the authors and the tone in your comments should not clash; for example, if you recommend to accept the submission with minor revisions, do not indicate in your confidential comments that you would actually like to see a major overhaul of the submitted work by the authors. Confidentially adding further critique is unfair to the author(s) and puts IGHPE’s editors and the editorial team in an uncomfortable position. For any questions about the submitted work always contact the editorial office at first.

Structure of your review

  • Number your comments, praises, and critique points; if the submitted work is a ‘classical’ journal article (structured into introduction, methods, results, and discussion), or has several identifiable parts, please address each part on its own.
  • In the first paragraph, summarize the work from your perspective and in your own words.
  • For the authors and for us it is helpful if you make a distinction between major and minor points of comment, praise, or critique.
  • Write in a constructive way: If you suggest revisions, specify which. If you find that the objective of the work has not been addressed properly, say why exactly.
  • These points imply that your review should not be cursory or just critically summarizing the submitted work. On the other hand, please be succinct; broad discussions of other authors’ work or of your own work are not necessary and depart from your role as an adviser of a particular work. Generally we assume that two to three normal manuscript pages are enough for a review.
  • Finally, write a summarizing paragraph and make a statement about the overall value of the work from your perspective. Make a recommendation about acceptance, revision, or rejection (but please keep in mind, it is the editor’s job to decide about rejection or acceptance).


Content of your review

Our author guidelines can also help you draft your review. Although the editor will have already checked whether the work falls into the aims and scope of IGHPE, do not hesitate to write if you disagree and why. From a formal point of view, consistency in presentation is crucial for acceptance by IGHPE. As a general guidance for reviewing content, assess relevance, novelty, and timeliness of the work for health professions education in a global context, beyond the setting or context chosen by the author(s). Submissions to IGHPE can have many formats besides the ‘traditional’ journal article – concept descriptions, qualitative research, or multimedia contributions. Beyond the content, be sure that you feel comfortable with the chosen format and have experience with it (for example, in the case of qualitative studies). The content guidelines for submissions and their content-related questions are intended to support authors in structuring contributions of any kind, and they are also useful for evaluating submitted work. Yet, keep in mind that not each point has to be addressed in a submitted work. However, if, e.g., the author(s) write(s) about formats used for an educational intervention (simulated patients or virtual learning environments, etc.), evaluate if these are sufficiently described for understanding and replication, and if these formats suit the proposed intervention. Regardless of the format of the submitted work, it is important to evaluate the following points:

  • Do the authors describe the work’s position in the current landscape of innovations and concepts in health professions education? Are the background or setting of the work sufficiently explained? Does similar work exist, and do the authors compare their submission to it?
  • Is the problem the authors want to solve or address lined out clearly?
  • Are observed outcomes described in sufficient detail for understanding? Do the authors discuss if other outcomes could have been expected?

The following questions can guide you when reviewing a traditional journal article subdivided into introduction, methods, results, and discussion:

  • Do the authors clearly state the hypothesis guiding their investigation clearly and outline its relationship to the context of research?
  • Did the authors select adequate methods to gain evidence supporting the hypothesis?
  • Are advantages and drawbacks of used methods critically reflected upon?
  • If you do not feel familiar with certain statistical techniques and their application, but think that you can evaluate the remainder of the study – in particular that its results lead to an innovation in a certain field of health professions education – please ask the editorial office for advice.

The following questions can guide you to structure your review of a qualitative study:

  • Does the qualitative method actually suit the research question? Does the selected study design (observational comments, interviews, etc.) appropriately address the study question?
  • Are the described procedures reported in a transparent way? For example, do the authors explain why they selected a specific group of professionals? How were they selected? Were all obtainable data (statements, interviewee responses) sufficiently evaluated? Did the researchers reflect their own influence on study design and interpretation?
  • Is the interpretative approach itself sound? Does the analysis of the authors reach sufficient depth? Is the analytical process described in enough detail?


Work from authors with English as a second language

Many of our authors are non-native speakers of English. Thus, submitted work may contain grammatical or semantic mistakes. Please do not let your attention to the content be distracted by such issues. The reviewer(s) should not assume the role of copy editors and submit a corrected version of the work or send a list of language mistakes. Except in cases when the language level is too poor to understand the contribution at all (however, the editorial office usually will not forward such submissions to editors and peer reviewers), please focus on the work’s objective and how it is fleshed out.

Levels of recommendation after the review

There are four different categories of recommendation of the submission to the editor after your review:

  1. Accept
  2. Accept with minor revision
  3. Accept with major revisions
  4. Reject

We expect a straight ‘accept’ recommendation only rarely. Suggested revisions, even if major, should always be achievable within a reasonable period of time—recommending revisions that would lead to a complete re-conceptualization of a submitted work is not considered useful for the authors or for the editorial process. The editor will make her/his final decision about publishing a submission from the evaluation of both peer reviews, and we will notify you as soon as s/he has arrived at a decision. Again, thank you very much for investing your precious time in reviewing work submitted to Innovations in Global Health Professions Education!