Reviewer’s Instructions

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Published by Africa science in collaboration with the laboratory of sustainability – the University of Montreal

Edited by: Blaise Nguendo Yongsi

Print ISSN: 1920-8693
Online ISSN: 1920-860X
Frequency: two times a year

Reviewers importance

Peer review policy

Selection of reviewers

Review process

Guide to reviewing

Reading and evaluating the manuscript
Editing a reviewer's report


Reviewers play an essential part in science and in scholarly publishing. The scientific community and scholars rely upon peer review to validate research, engage other specialists in the support of submitted work, and increase networking possibilities within specific specialist communities. ''Although in recent years the peer review process has attracted some criticism, it remains the only widely accepted method for research validation and a cornerstone of the scientific publishing process''. Then, peer review is a very important part of scholarly publication, it is the basis of the whole system. It has two key functions: (i) it acts as a filter, to ensure only good research is published, (ii) and it improves the quality of the research submitted for publication.

Thus, like most scientific journals, International Journal of Advanced Studies and Research in Africa (IJASRA) relies on effective peer review processes to uphold the quality and validity of individual articles, and the overall integrity of the journal.


International Journal of Advanced Studies and Research in Africa has adopted a double-blind review policy, i.e. both the reviewer and the author remain anonymous. This is advantageous in the sense that (i) author anonymity prevents any reviewer bias based on, for example, an author's country of origin or previous controversial work; (ii) articles written by renowned authors are considered on the basis of the content of their papers, rather than on the author's reputation.

All contributions that are selected for peer-review are sent to at least one, but usually two or more, independent reviewers. To save time for authors and peer-reviewers, only those papers that seem most likely to meet our editorial criteria are sent for formal review. Those papers judged by the editors to be of insufficient general interest are rejected without external review.

Thus, the editors make a decision based on the reviewers' advice, from among several possibilities:

  • Accept, with or without editorial revisions.
  • Invite the authors to revise their manuscript to address specific concerns before a final decision is reached.
  • Reject, but indicate to the authors that further work might justify a resubmission.
  • Reject because of lack of novelty, insufficient conceptual advance, etc.


1. Reviewers' identities are not revealed to authors, except when reviewers specifically ask to be identified. Unless they feel strongly, however, it is preferable that reviewers remain anonymous throughout the review process and beyond. We ask reviewers not to identify themselves to authors without the editor's knowledge. If they wish to reveal their identities while the manuscript is under consideration, this should be done via the editor, or if this is not practicable, we ask authors to inform the editor as soon as possible after the reviewer has revealed his or her identity to the author.

2. Selecting peer reviewers: Reviewer selection is critical to the publication process, and we base our choice on many factors, including expertise, reputation, and specific recommendations.


Selection of reviewer is critical to the review process, and our choice is based on factors such as expertise, reputation, specific recommendations, and our previous experience with the referee. We avoid using reviewers who are chronically slow, too harsh or too easy-going. We invite reviewers and only on acceptance of the invitation will a referee have access to the manuscript.


The manuscript submission and peer review process is broken down into the following five steps:

  1. The Author submits a manuscript.
  2. The Editor assigns Reviewers to the manuscript.
  3. The Reviewers review the manuscript.
  4. The Editor makes final decision.
  5. The Editorial board contacts the Author with the decision.

As a Reviewer, you are responsible for step number 3.


Suggestions when receiving an invitation


Editors select reviewers based on their knowledge of an individual's expertise and/or areas of interest that these individuals have indicated to the journal through the use of key words or terms. When a reviewer receives an invitation to review a manuscript, several preliminary decisions must be made before accepting the offer extended by the editor. Most importantly, does the reviewer have time to complete the review? A reviewer who is unable to complete the review within the suggested timeframe (usually 2 or 3 weeks) should decline the opportunity and suggest alternative reviewers, if possible. Next, does the reviewer have professional expertise in the manuscript subject area? A reviewer who does not have expertise in the given topic can assist the editor and be fair to the author(s) by declining to serve and suggesting alternative reviewers. Finally, does the reviewer have a conflict of interest with the author(s) involved in the work or the work itself? In other words, is some relationship or situation present that might positively or negatively bias the review? Often, the reviewer can make all of these decisions simply by reading the title of the manuscript, the authors' names and affiliations, and the abstract. If the reviewer is confident that he/she can commit to serve as a reviewer for this manuscript, he/she should notify the editor promptly to accept the assignment and then begin the review process.

Necessity of pre-reviewing


Upon reception of the manuscript for review, do the following immediately in order to avoid unnecessary delays in processing manuscripts:

  • Double-check the deadline to ensure that there is no misunderstandings regarding timing, and contact the editorial office immediately if you anticipate any difficulties in meeting it.
  • Read the editor's letter carefully and be sure to note any points specific to the manuscript that the editor may have requested your opinion on
  • Consider whether the topic seems to fit the scope of the journal and is likely to be of sufficient general interest for publication.

A confidentiality affair


Conducting the review with International Journal of Advanced Studies and Research in Africa requires that you adhere to the followings:

  • manuscripts must not be discussed with anyone not directly involved in the review process
  • as a rule, reviewers should not reveal their identities to the authors since they may be asked to comment on the criticisms of other reviewers and may then find it difficult to be objective. Should they feel strongly about making their identities known to the authors, they should do so via the editor.
  • if professionals from outside the referee's own laboratory or field research are consulted, reviewers should check with the editors beforehand to avoid involving anyone who may have been excluded by the editor

A professionals' affair


The ultimate purpose of reviewers is to provide the editors with the information that they need to take a decision. But they should also instruct the authors on how to strengthen their manuscript if revision is a possibility. As a value Professional, we recommend to maintain a positive and impartial, but critical, attitude in evaluating manuscripts. Criticisms should remain dispassionate; offensive language is not acceptable. As far as possible, a negative report should explain to the authors the weaknesses of their manuscript, so that they can understand the basis for a decision to ask for revision or to reject the manuscript.

How to conduct the review


1. Read and evaluate the manuscript


Reviewing a manuscript as well as reading a book varies according to individuals' abilities, interests, commitment, time, etc. Some might just read one time and get what they are looking for, the others tree/four/five times. However, for a research paper, it is recommended that you read at least two times. During the first reading the reviewer gets insight into general idea about the originality of

the work, e.g., whether or not the work adds to the knowledge already available, or is it a mere duplicate of an earlier publication. The second reading is also reasonably fast, but more careful than initial reading; it serves to answer the following questions:

  • Is the research clearly justified?
  • Is it made credible with appropriate allusions to both scientific principles and the literature?
  • Is it original?
  • If the answers to these questions are positive, the reviewer further assesses the manuscript by the third reading. This time, the reviewer goes to smaller details. His careful analysis of each section of the manuscript will help answering the following questions:
  • Are the hypothesis and objectives clear?
  • Is the statistical analysis appropriate?
  • Are the methods presented in full details, so that an interested reader can repeat the experimentation?
  • Are the results clearly stated and presented in text, tables and figures?
  • Are the results interpreted accurately?
  • Is discussion appropriate, not speculative?
  • Is the cited literature relevant, selective and new?

Therefore, by this reading the reviewer answers the questions the editor poses in the questionnaire to the referee. He always keeps his own paper handy, in order not only to answer by "yes" or "no" these questions, but to give his own comments and suggestions.

The reviewer usually faces five types of problems: too much information, too little information, inaccurate information, misplaced information, and structural problems. Careful analysis and detailed suggestions on how to solve these problems help both the author and editor to make use of the review and to change the manuscript accordingly. By the fourth reading, the reviewer considers the organization within paragraphs, the effectiveness of the sentence construction, the format of the text, figures and tables. Is the literature cited properly? It is interesting how many mistakes the authors make

when citing the references, although it is usually the easiest chapter to write. Annotations should be given according to the page and paragraph. Both the strengths and weaknesses of each section should be pointed out.

In general, reviewers would be expected to evaluate the article according to the following:

a. Originality: Is the article sufficiently novel and interesting to warrant publication? Does it add to the canon of knowledge? Does the article adhere to the journal's standards? Is the research question an important one? In order to determine its originality and appropriateness for the journal it might be helpful to think of the research in terms of which percentile it is in? Is it in the top 25% of papers in this field? You might wish to do a quick literature search using tools such as Scopus.

b. Structure: Is the article clearly laid out? Are all the key elements present: abstract, introduction, methodology, results, conclusion?

Then, consider each element in turn:

· Does the title clearly describe the paper?

· Does the abstract reflect the comment of the article?

· Does the introduction describe what the author hoped to achieve accurately, and clearly state the problem being investigated?

· Does the methodology accurately explain how the data was collected? Is the design suitable for answering the question posed? Is there sufficient information present for you to replicate the research? Does the article identify the procedures followed? Are these ordered in a meaningful way? If the methods are new, are they explained in detail? Was the sampling appropriate? Have the equipment and materials been adequately described? Does the article make it clear what type of data was recorded; has the author been precise in describing measurements?

· Are the results clearly laid out and in a logical sequence. You will need to consider if the appropriate analysis been conducted. Are the statistics correct? If you are not comfortable with statistics, advise the editor when you submit your report.

· Are the claims in the conclusion or discussion section supported by the results? Do they seem reasonable? Have the authors indicated how the results relate to expectations and to earlier research? Does the article support or contradict previous theories? Does the conclusion explain how the research has moved the body of scientific knowledge forward?

· Do the figures/tables/illustrationsinform the reader? Do they describe the data accurately? Are they an important part of the story?

c. Language: If an article is poorly written with a number of misspelt words and grammatical errors, you do not need to correct the English. Advise promptly the editor of the poor quality, and allow them to take appropriate action. Correcting Language in a paper is not the role of the reviewer.

d. Previous Research: If the article builds upon previous research does it reference that work appropriately? Are there any important works that have been omitted? Are the references accurate?

e: Ethical Issues: If the research is medical in nature, has confidentiality been maintained? If there has been violation of accepted norms of ethical treatment of animal or human subjects these should also be identified. If you suspect that an article is a substantial copy of previous work/s, let the editor know. And please, cite the previous work/s.

2. Communicate your report to the Editor


Once you have completed your evaluation of the article, forward your report to the Editor. The report should contain the key elements of your review, addressing the points outlined in the preceding section. When providing commentary, you should be courteous and constructive, consider, 'how would you react to receiving your suggestions'. It should not include any personal remarks. Providing insight into any deficiencies is quite important. You should explain and support your judgment so that both editors and authors are better able to understand the basis of the comments. You should indicate whether your comments are your own opinion or are reflected by data.

When you make a recommendation regarding an article, it is worth considering the categories that the Editor will likely use for the classifying the article: (i) Rejected due to poor quality or out of scope, (ii) Accepted without revision, (iii) Accepted but needs minor/major revision.

If you think the article needs to be revised, indicate to the editor. Also, clearly identify what revision is required and advise whether or not you would be happy to review the revised article.

We strongly invite you to refer to this Review Manuscript Form to communicate your report to the Editor.

3. Timing


International Journal of Advanced Studies and Research in Africa is committed to rapid editorial decisions, and publication as efficiency in this process is a valuable service both to our authors and the scientific community as a whole. We therefore wish that reviewers respond promptly or inform us if they anticipate a significant delay. This allows us to keep the authors informed and, where necessary, find alternative reviewers.