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Guidelines for reviewers

What is the double-blind peer-review process?

REC: CardioClinics uses the double-blind peer-review process, which consists of a completely anonymous article review, that is, the reviewers do not know the names of the manuscript’s authors or where they work and vice versa. The entire process is handled by the editorial office to maintain both author and reviewer anonymity at all times.

Article types

The types of articles that are generally peer-reviewed in REC: CardioClinics are the following:

  • Original articles. These articles are research articles, with no limit on the number of authors, a maximum of 5000 words, and structured as follows: Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions, References, and Key points.
  • Scientific letters. Scientific letters deal with basic science or clinical cases of particular interest. The maximum length is 1500 words, with 6 references, 6 authors, and 2 tables or figures.
  • Images in cardiology. These articles present cases graphically. The maximum length is 250 words, with 4 authors, and 3 figures.
Reviewers should be aware of the specifications for each article type when evaluating a manuscript, since their comments and suggestions for authors must comply with them.

Review process in REC: CardioClinics

Manuscripts submitted to the journal are received by the editorial office. The editorial office checks that the manuscript complies with the instructions for authors (word count, structure, etc) and then assigns it to an expert Editor, bearing in mind the Editor’s potential conflicts of interest with the manuscript. If the Editor considers it appropriate, he or she will look for reviewers and will invite them to review the manuscript. Subsequently, the Editor will take a decision based on the comments of the specialized reviewers and on his or her own judgment and that of the Editorial Team, as well of the needs of the journal at that particular time.
Authors may be informed of the following decisions:

  • Accepted. The manuscript will be copyedited and may be returned to the author to request formatting changes. When the article meets all the journal’s requirements, it will be sent to the publisher to complete the publication process.
  • Major or minor changes. The authors will be sent the reviewers’ comments (if the Editor deems it appropriate) so that they may make the necessary changes to improve the article and make it acceptable for publication. If the authors accept to submit a new version, it will first pass through an assessment process, usually, but not necessarily, by the same reviewers.
  • Rejected. The authors will be informed of the decision not to accept their article. To help authors improve their manuscript, they may receive the reviewers’ comments, if the Editor deems it appropriate, even though the article has been rejected.
Reviewers must accept that transmission of their comments to authors will be at the discretion of the Editors and that they may also be edited to omit information that could affect the double-blind peer-review process or which could be confusing or transmit a contradictory message to authors.

How does the editorial system work for reviewers?

When invited to review a manuscript by an Editor, reviewers receive an e-mail with instructions on how to proceed. Reviewers may access the manuscript by clicking on a link in the invitation to review message, which will work only once. Reviewers may also access the manuscript through the submission system by using a username and password. Reviewers not responding to invitations will be sent 2 reminders by the editorial office before the invitation will be withdrawn.
The main menu for reviewers in the submission system of REC: CardioClinics has 3 folders:

  • New Reviewer Invitations. The manuscript will be sent to this folder after an invitation to review has been issued. Reviewers then have the option to accept or decline the invitation. In the latter case, reviewers may optionally indicate their reasons for declining the invitation.
  • Pending Assignments. Once reviewers have accepted to review a manuscript, they can consult it in this folder.
  • Completed Assignments. This folder includes all the reviews completed by a reviewer and also contains the messages informing authors of the journal’s decision and the reviews of the same manuscript by other reviewers.
After reviewing an article, reviewers must submit their comments by clicking on the “Submit Recommendation” link. Before finishing the submission process, the system will ask twice for confirmation before sending the review, otherwise the submission process will not be complete and the manuscript will remain in the “Pending assignments” folder of the main menu, in detriment to reviewers’ evaluation times.
Following invitations, the editorial office will always send 2 reminders to any reviewers who have failed to respond. Authors who have accepted to review a manuscript will be sent a reminder 4 days before the deadline for receipt of reviews.
If reviewers who have accepted to review a manuscript fail to meet the deadline, they will be sent 2 reminders before the invitation is withdrawn.
Reviewers must be mindful of the importance of meeting deadlines. Any delay will prolong the process of editorial decision-making and notification of the final decision to authors, who sometimes have to wait for months to receive a definitive response.

What are reviewers asked to evaluate in a manuscript?

  • Originality. Reviewers should assess whether the manuscript contributes anything new to the literature. This may include topics not previously analyzed or not exhaustively examined. Reviewers should also evaluate whether any novel elements are truly of interest and could lead to a change in current clinical practice.
  • Methods. The methods reported in articles must be robust and answer the questions posed by the authors in the study aims, using valid and appropriate procedures. Equally, although reviewers are blind to the institutions where the research was conducted, the reported methods must comply with the ethical requirements for the type of article submitted.
  • Discussion and conclusions. Reviewers must check that this section is not a summary of the results. The discussion should interpret the results of the study and analyze their implications. This section should also mention the limitations and possible biases of the study.
  • References. Reviewers must check that there a no errors or deliberate omissions.
  • Other matters. Reviewers should check that the manuscript is coherent and uses appropriate terminology, etc.
Reviewers will transmit their comments and suggestions to the Editor and authors through the submission system’s evaluation form, which will ask reviewers to rate the study’s originality, methods, presentation, relevance, and overall score on a scale of 1 to 10. Reviewers should also complete 2 boxes: the first with confidential comments for the Editor and the second with comments for the authors. Reviewers must take particular care not to include information for the Editor in the box for authors.

Reviewers’ ethical committments

  • Declare any conflicts of interest. Although not mandatory, reviewers can declare their conflicts of interest in the box containing the comments for the Editor. If any conflicts of interest with the article are detected, whether before or after the review, reviewers must report them as soon as possible to the editorial office. Authors must not review or read any more of the article until they receive a response from the journal.
  • Evaluate only articles in their field of expertise and with maximum objectivity.
  • Use constructive and courteous language when writing reviews. The aim is to help authors improve their articles.
  • Evaluate personally, without delegating to third parties or using artificial intelligence.
  • Respect anonymity. Reviewers must not involve third parties in their manuscript reviews. Manuscripts are confidential and must not be shown to anyone else, not even to ask for advice or the opinions of expert colleagues.
  • Coherent in the message given to authors. Comments to the Editor and to authors should be in the same vein. Recommendations to reject a manuscript to the Editor should be reflected in the comments to authors.
  • Timely submission of reviews. The journal has short review and publication times. Respecting these times is essential for the effective running of the journal. Consequently, meeting review deadlines is an absolute necessity.

Most common errors

  • Language. Although the invitation to review and subsequent reminders specify the language reviewers must use, comments are sometimes sent in Spanish to non–Spanish-speaking authors and vice versa. For articles written in English, the invitation to review will always specify if reviewers’ comments should be in English or Spanish. If there is any doubt, reviewers can always send their comments in the same language as the manuscript or query the editorial office.
  • Entering comments in the wrong box. Reviewers sometimes mistakenly write comments for authors in the box for the Editor and vice versa.
  • Recommendations for authors. Comments for authors should not contain opinions on whether their manuscript should be published in REC: CardioClinics. Sentences such as “I do not recommend publication in REC”, or “This could be a good article for REC readers” should be addressed to the Editor only.
  • Review submission. The submission system will always ask reviewers to click twice before submitting the review to the editorial office. Reviewers commonly click only once in the “Proceed” button, in which case submission is not complete, which will delay review time, the final decision, and author notification.
  • Classifications. Reviewers can include their fields of expertise in their profiles in the submission system. These classifications or key words will be used by the Editor when seeking a reviewer for a manuscript and therefore it is important to update them. To do so, click on the “Change Details” tab, look for the “Areas or Interest or Expertise” and click on “Select Personal Classifications”.
  • Attempting to access the manuscript for a second time through the invitation to review e-mail. The link to access the manuscript in the invitation message will work only once. Afterwards, reviewers must access manuscripts by using their username and password through the reviewers’ menu.
  • Second reviews. If an article has been reviewed once and authors are asked to submit a revised version, the second version will usually be sent to the same reviewers. However, the Editor may need the opinion of a new reviewer for a second or third version of a manuscript. Sometimes reviewers express their confusion about being asked to review a manuscript they have already reviewed once or, in contrast, being asked to review a modified version of an article they have not seen previously.
  • Requesting that authors make changes that do not fit with the type of article submitted. For example, asking authors to include a third figure in a Scientific letter.
  • Attempting to contact the Editor handling the manuscript. To ensure that the review process remains double-blind, reviewers may never know the identity of the Editor handling the manuscript. Any doubts or consultations that reviewers may wish to make should be sent through the editorial office.

Benefits of being a reviewer

  • Elite reviewers. Those reviewers with the highest number of reviews and whose reviews stand out for their quality and timeliness are considered “Elite Reviewers” and automatically become part of the Editorial Board. They are given special recognition at the Annual Meeting of the Editorial Board, held during the Spanish Society of Cardiology Congress.
  • Continuing education credits issued by the Accreditation Committee of the Spanish Society of Cardiology (CASEC).
  • Access to Scopus for 30 days.
  • Annual report with data on their activity as a reviewer.
  • Opportunity to read other reviewers’ comments and the decision on the manuscript. Whenever the process of evaluating a manuscript finishes, reviewers receive a message informing them of the decision and the comments of the other reviewers.
  • Profile in the Elsevier Reviewer Platform, which provides reviewers with a single profile for all Elsevier’s journals and which can be shared in professional networks and curricula. The platform also allows reviewers to download their accreditation or diploma.
  • Reviewers may request accreditation of their work reviewing manuscripts.

Links of Interest:

Committee on Publication Ethics. Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Responsibilities in the Submission and Peer-Review Process

Elsevier. Guidelines for Reviewers

Becoming a peer reviewer. Elsevier

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