1 of 6 - Your Questions - Peer Review Toolbox
Welcome to our new series, focusing on your questions about peer review. Got a question? Send it to us via email or twitter, or through our survey. We’d love to include it in a future issue of the Peer Review Toolbox.

This week we’re kicking things off with a question received through our feedback survey in May:
How is rereview different?
Reviewing Revisions / What to expect when you’re invited to rereview
In past issues, we’ve talked a lot about reading manuscripts and writing effective, constructive peer reviews–but what about when you’re invited to review a revised manuscript? How is rereview different from first-round review?
Compare and Contrast
What’s different for revisions, step-by-step
The invitation The invitation

Reviewing a new manuscript

Carefully consider whether to accept each reviewer invitation based on your knowledge of the subject area, your schedule and potential competing interests.

Reviewing a revised manuscript

An invitation to first-found review is a tacit invitation to all the rest. When invited to review a revision of a manuscript you’ve previously reviewed, plan to say “yes.”

Reading the manuscript Reading the manuscript

Reviewing a new manuscript

Read through the manuscript twice, once to get an overall sense and a second time taking notes. Pay special attention to the methods, figures and tables, analysis, and results or claims.

Reviewing a revised manuscript

Usually, reviewing a revised manuscript goes faster than the first round. Read through the authors’ response to reviewers and compare it against the revised manuscript to determine if the authors have satisfied your critique.

Writing the review Writing the review

Reviewing a new manuscript

A thorough review summarizes the research and gives an overall impression, followed by a detailed discussion of specific areas for improvement.

Reviewing a revised manuscript

Unless your perspective on the manuscript has changed significantly, a summary isn’t necessary. List any issues that remain outstanding, or which may have been introduced in revision, or confirm that you are satisfied.

Is rereview standard practice?
Not necessarily. Peer review processes are variable, not only between journals, but also manuscript-to-manuscript. In some cases, the editor may be able to assess the changes and reach a decision independently. In others, the editor might need a second opinion on a particular aspect of the revision, or ask the reviewers to confirm that the authors have fully addressed their previous concerns. At PLOS ONE, for example, 70% of first revisions are returned to peer reviewers, while at the second revision only 36% are returned to peer reviewers.
When reconsidering a manuscript you’ve previously reviewed, I suggest first focusing on the changes the authors made in response to your comments. Then, if those look satisfactory, I’d also take a look at any other comments made on the paper and the authors’ responses to those. Finally, take a quick last look at the manuscript to see if there are any other issues to address.
Meg Byrne
Meg Byrne
Senior Editor, PLOS ONE
What to expect

Journals are different, but typically, you can expect to receive:

A red-line copy of the manuscript, with changes tracked
A clean copy of the revised manuscript
A line-by-line response to reviewer and editor comments

In a second-round review you’ll probably spend most of your time on the authors’ response to reviewers and the red-line copy manuscript.


TOP TIP: Catch yourself up

Depending on how much time has passed since the first round of review, it may help to refresh your memory by re-reading the abstract and your earlier review before taking a deep dive into the authors’ response.

What to watch for

A few questions to ask yourself as you consider a revised manuscript...

Have the authors addressed your concerns, both in the response to reviewers and the manuscript itself? If not, what further information would you expect to see?
The authors may not take every suggestion--if they decided not to make a particular change, have they explained the reason in their response?
Has the manuscript changed in other ways? Are there additions or deletions you did not expect, or which were not called out in the response to reviewers? If so, what do you think of these changes?
Twitter Facebook Email Website
Public Library of Science
1160 Battery St. Suite 225
San Francisco, CA 94111