PLOS Peer Review Toolkit
Responding to invitations
"I Imagine that yes is the only living thing" — E.E. Cummings
So you’ve received an invitation to peer review a what?

First of all, know that it’s okay to decline an invitation if you feel you aren’t the right fit. A prompt decline saves the journal office, and the editors you respect, time and effort. When deciding whether or not to accept an invitation, consider the following.
Ask yourself...

Am I the right person to review this manuscript?

Only review manuscripts that fall within your areas of scientific expertise. You need not be an expert in every aspect of the manuscript, but should be able to comment authoritatively on at least one significant piece--whether it be the methodology, the specific system studied, or the discipline in general.


Do I have time to look at this right now?

We’re all busy, we know that there are many demands on your time. It’s completely fine to decline an invitation to peer review if you feel that you don’t have space in your schedule. If the manuscript is one you’re especially qualified to review, consider writing to the editor or journal office to ask if they’d consider giving you some extra time to complete the review.


Can I provide an objective assessment?

Check the complete author list to see if you know any of the coauthors, either personally or professionally. If you share active grants, have recently collaborated on a study, or have other potentially competing interests, decline the invitation. If you’re unsure contact the journal office. They may want you to review anyway, as long as you declare your potential COI.

Signs you should decline...
...the topic is fascinating, but you know nothing about it’re over-extended’re old friends with one of the coauthors
When you decide to decline
Let the editor know
Busy editors always appreciate a quick response. Let the editors know the reason for your decline--especially if they’ve misunderstood your expertise--so they know what to contact you for next time.
Suggest an alternative reviewer
If you know someone else who might be interested, feel free to give a referral. The editor will be grateful, and it may help a colleague get their start as a peer reviewer!
When you decide to accept
We’re SO thrilled
Thank you for your participation in peer review at PLOS! We couldn’t be more appreciative of all you do to support Open Science.
Join the Conversation...
We asked PLOS reviewers how many reviews they do per year for any journal. Here’s what they said:
Pie chart
22.5%  1 - 3
31.1%  4 - 6
22.2%  7 - 10
20.7%  11+
3.5%  Other - Write-In
Have your say… how many manuscripts do you review a year for any journal?
I’m awaiting my first invitation
Other - Write in
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