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TANZANIA PUBLIC HEALTH BULLETTIN

GUIDELINES FOR REVIEWING MANUSCRIPTS SUBMITTED TO TANZANIA PUBLIC HEALTH BULLETIN

REVIEWERS ROLE

As a reviewer, you are asked to serve two different roles:

First, you are asked to make a recommendation to the editor as to whether the manuscript should be accepted, rejected, or returned to the authors with an invitation to revise and resubmit. Therefore, it should be noted that the recommendation is made privately to the editor; reviewers should not directly or indirectly communicate their recommendation to the author(s) of the manuscript under review. As a reviewer your required to render a judgment about whether this manuscript should eventually appear as a published article in the Tanzania Public Health Bulletin (TPHB), thereby becoming part of the permanent health record that will inform TPHB readers and the public on necessary actions to take to improve and protect their health. The article will remain a refence for many years to come.

Second, and equally important, you are asked to provide a detailed, educative narrative evaluation that the editor will send to the authors. Note that the narrative evaluation is an important component of every review regardless of whether the reviewer recommends acceptance, rejection, revise and resubmit, or any other action for the editor to consider.

As a reviewer, we encourage you to see yourself as an anonymous consultant for every author, even (and especially) for manuscripts you believe should be rejected. Aspire to provide sufficiently helpful, educative feedback so that the next manuscript submitted by these author(s) makes a substantial contribution to the literature and is of publishable quality.

GENERAL RULES

Please note that the manuscript you have been asked to review is a confidential communication. Therefore, if you accept this invitation to review, you must treat the materials you receive as confidential documents. This means you can’t share them with anyone without prior authorization from the editor. Also, you may not quote, cite, or refer to the unpublished work, nor may you use information from the manuscript to advance your own work or instruction unless you obtain specific permission for such use from the author. Since peer review is confidential, you also must not share information about the review with anyone without permission from the editors and authors.

You are strongly encouraged to destroy any paper copies you have made and delete any electronic copies of the manuscript as soon as your review is complete. However, you may retain one copy of the manuscript until such time as the editor sends you a copy of the editorial decision letter and other reviews of the manuscript. Within 48 hours of receiving these materials, you must destroy or delete any remaining copies of the manuscript.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Although the TPHB uses a masked review process, if you suspect that one of the manuscript's authors is a person whose relationship to you might present a conflict of interest for example a recent collaborator or fellow employee, or if your acceptance or rejection might result in any gain you must inform the Deputy Editor-in-Chief immediately so that the manuscript can be properly reassigned. 

MANUSCRIPT REVIEWER CHECKLIST

In order to systematically review all sections of a manuscript, the TPHB has provided a checklist to facilitate the process. You are strongly encouraged to use this checklist. Please write your narrative evaluation (comments) for each section in each section of the checklist. It is important that you provide enough information that the editors and authors understand the reasons for your recommendation and can improve the manuscript accordingly. 

The narrative evaluation should be phrased as a communication between you and the author about the manuscript and use the third person. Critical feedback tends to be easier to accept when a review refers to some aspect of "the manuscript" and avoids phrasing in the second person.

For editors and the authors clear separation of major and minor points is crucial. State what are the most salient points regarding the manuscript that you wish to share? Making these clear and listing and explaining them is very helpful. Please help the authors and action editor step-back to see major issues, and help differentiate them from the smaller, more specific issues

Some additional guidelines to consider for full length and review manuscripts are provided blow: -

Full length research article

Examine the importance of the research question addressed in the manuscript (e.g., are objectives and justification clearly stated?).

Assess the originality (contribution, addition of knowledge to scientific literature or field) of the manuscript.

Clearly identify the strengths and weaknesses of the method described in the manuscript.

Make specific useful comments on the writing of the manuscript (e.g., writing, organization, figures, tables etc.).

Offer specific comments on the author’s interpretation of the results and conclusions drawn from the results.

In case applicable, comment on the statistics (for example question if they are robust and fit-for-purpose and if the controls and sampling mechanisms are sufficient and well described).

Review Manuscript

Discuss the importance of the topic/scope of the review.

Assess the originality of the review.

Comment on the author's representation of the most relevant recent advances in the field. Specifically, determine whether the references are relevant to the topic and cover both historical literature and more recent developments.

Offer comments on the writing, organization, tables, and figures of the manuscript.

Comment on the author's interpretation of the results.

In any case, your first task is to read the article. You might consider spot checking major issues by choosing which section to read first.

Methodology

If the manuscript you are reviewing is reporting an experiment, check the methods section first. The following cases are considered as major flaws and should be pointed out:

Unsound methodology

Discredited method

Missing processes known to be influential on the area of reported research

A conclusion drawn in contradiction to the statistical or qualitative evidence reported in the manuscript

For qualitative research make sure that a systematic data analysis is presented and sufficient descriptive elements with relevant quotes from interviews are listed in addition to the author’s narrative.

RESEARCH DATA AND VISUALIZATIONS

Once you are satisfied that the methodology is sufficiently robust, examine any data in the form of figures, tables, or images. Authors may add research data, including data visualizations, to their submission to enable readers to interact and engage more closely with their research after publication. Please be aware that links to data might therefore be present in the submission files. These items should also receive your attention during the peer review process.

ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Experiments including patient or animal data should properly be documented. The TPHB require ethical approval by the author’s host organization or the national ethical review committee.

SUMMARY OF ISSUES INCLUDED IN NARRATIVE EVALUATION

Begin your summary with a paragraph summarizing the study then highlight issues by addressing listed questions

Is the manuscript important?

Is the manuscript fixable? How could it be altered?

What are the key points and what are the more major points?

Keep in mind that you too are an author and ask yourself what would a good review look like if this were your manuscript? 

TIME FOR REVIEW

Allow editorial process for a manuscript to published in the bulletin, a period for review is 14 working days from time of your acceptance.

PUBLICATION RECOMMENDATION

In making your publication recommendation, please consider the following: -

A manuscript cannot have been published, in whole or in part, in another journal or readily available work.

A manuscript must be accurate, and the conclusions and generalizations must come from the data.

A manuscript must be free of major errors and use plain language.  It must be an important public health information.

A manuscript must be appropriate for the bulletin based on the targeted audience.

For a manuscript not meeting all those criteria, you will usually recommend rejection, with detailed reasons for your recommendation

Recommendation should be categorized as follows: -

Reject: Explain your reasoning in your report

Accept: Without revision

Revise: Major or minor. Explain the revisions required and indicate to the editor whether you would be happy to review the revised article.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Instructions to Authors

Writing in Plain Language - Home | plainlanguage.gov

Step by Step Guide to Reviewing a Manuscript | Wiley

peer-review-the-nuts-and-bolts.pdf (senseaboutscience.org)

The Pathway to Publishing: A Guide to Quantitative Writing in the Health Sciences by Steve Luby and Dorothy Southern, revised August 2017, https://globalhealth.stanford.edu/resources/pathway-to-publishing/

TPHB Manuscript Review Checklist.pdf