Peer Review Policy

General Information

IJPDS publishes a wide variety of manuscript types, the majority of which are peer-reviewed including: Research articles, protocol papers, case studies, methodological developments, features on a particular topic, working papers, commentaries, and informative reports.

General reader summaries of complex topics, comments and letters, consultations, help sheets and tips are subject to editorial review rather than full peer-review, unless the Editor suggests otherwise owing to the type of content therein.

Other manuscripts including forthcoming, and reports of events, news items, job advertisements and opportunities for collaborations are not peer-reviewed, but are checked by the Editor.

Open Journal System (OJS)

IJPDS has adopted the Open Journal Systems (OJS) publishing platform to create and disseminate Population Data Science research digitally. Peer-reviewers log in to the OJS system to accept or reject invitations to conduct reviews, and to submit their reports.

Criteria for Publication

For a paper to be accepted for publication in IJPDS, it should fall within the scope of Population Data Science, as outlined on the website and described more fully in A Position Statement on Population Data Science: The science of data about people. It should be:

  • Robust and of good quality
  • Of importance and interest
  • Conducted in line with good practice

The Review Process

Every manuscript submitted to IJPDS is read by the Editor-in-Chief to determine whether a paper is in scope and of a sufficient standard to enter the formal review process. Papers that do not pass this initial screening are rejected without delay and the response emailed to the authors accompanied by an explanation as to why this decision was taken.

Manuscripts that pass the initial screening are allocated to the most appropriate editor who, in turn, selects at least two reviewers to conduct a formal review.

The reviewer can accept or decline an invitation to review via OJS. If a reviewer declines, then the editor invites alternative reviewers one at a time, until an appropriate number of reviewers are secured. Reviewers are initially given up to three weeks to complete their review and upload it on to OJS.

IJPDS editors act on the advice of the peer-reviewers which may result in one of the following actions, a) to accept the manuscript, with or without revisions, b) to invite authors to revise their manuscript and address any concerns prior to making a final decision, c) to reject, but indicate that with further work they could resubmit again, or c) to reject the manuscript outright.

For manuscripts that require revisions, the editor notifies the authors by email that the reviewers’ comments are available to view on OJS, and gives the authors from three to six weeks to revise their manuscript depending upon the extent of revisions that are required. Extensions to the agreed deadline can be granted at the editor’s discretion. Editors request that the author returns a point-by-point letter of response/rebuttal, and two copies of their revised manuscript: one with tracked changes and one clean.

Once revisions are complete, the authors resubmit their manuscript. The editor assesses how the reviewers’ comments have been addressed and decides whether to: a) accept the manuscript, b) return it to the reviewers for further peer-review, or c) reject the manuscript. Second (and occasionally any further) rounds of peer-review are requested within two weeks.

Manuscripts that are accepted enter the copyediting process. The criteria for copyediting are provided on the website. Copyediting is usually carried out by the editor who oversaw the review process and the local journal team. Changes proposed in copyediting are returned to the author with a request for them to also conduct their own checks and return a version showing tracked changes within one week. Once the copyediting process is complete, the manuscript enters the production process.

IJPDS takes the peer-review process very seriously. The reviewing editor sits between the author and the reviewers and manages any disputes between those parties, with the option for the editor to call in the Editor-in-Chief for assistance. Any disputes involving the reviewing editor are dealt with by the Editor-in-Chief. If it is not possible to reach an acceptable resolution, the matter is referred to the Editorial Board for advice with reference to relevant published guidelines. In the unlikely event of malpractice by any party, a referral is made to their employing organisation for disciplinary procedures. IJPDS reserves the right to contact funders, regulatory bodies, journals and author’s institutions in the event of suspected research or publishing misconduct.

Peer-review selection process

The editors select peer-reviewers based on a number of factors including their areas of expertise, author or other peer recommendations, reviewer’s experience, their ability to provide a review in a timely fashion, and ability to provide concise comments and justifiable arguments.

Each reviewer is sent an invitation to review a particular paper by email which they can accept or decline using the OJS. On completion of the review, the reviewer uploads their comments on to OJS where the editor responsible for that paper picks up the review and determines the next step.

Writing a review

A review should be written in order to provide the editors with concise information to enable them to make a decision about a particular manuscript. It should also contain clear, constructive instructions to the authors on how to improve their manuscript before it can be accepted for publishing, or to provide sufficient feedback to authors whose manuscripts are rejected so that they have a thorough understanding of the editor’s decision to reject their manuscript.

The reviewer should critique the manuscript using the Reviewer Guidelines available to reviewers on OJS . This includes (as relevant depending on the manuscript): validity, originality and significance to the field, quality of the data used and methodology, sound analysis and use of statistics, robustness of conclusions, appropriate use of references, and abstract clarity. Improvements to the manuscript should be suggested clearly and concisely. Any sections that were not assessed fully due to being outside the reviewer’s scope of expertise should be highlighted to the editor, and all questions posed to the reviewer by the editor should be addressed in full. All comments and suggestions must be justified by the reviewer with accompanying detailed reasoning. Where there is doubt, the reviewer is permitted to contact the editor for guidance.

It is IJPDS policy to present the entire content of reviewer’s reports to the authors, regardless of our opinion of the content, and we therefore ask reviewers to avoid comments that may cause offence whilst encouraging them to provide their opinion unreservedly. Reviewers feedback coupled with the editor’s advice enables authors to refine their manuscript to make the content more apparent to readers.

Timing

IJPDS operates a timely peer-review process with reviewers producing their completed reviews within an agreed deadline. We communicate regularly with reviewers and editors throughout the process so that any potential delays can be addressed by granting deadline extensions where appropriate and keeping the authors informed or, where necessary, finding alternative reviewers.

Anonymity

The IJPDS peer-review process is conducted using the single-blind method. Referee’s identities are not released to authors or other reviewers, but referees are aware of author identities. This method assists with ensuring there are no conflicts of interest in the review process. Authors are not permitted to contact reviewers or speculate on reviewer’s identities. IJPDS’ policy is to remain neutral in such circumstances to protect the identities of all parties.

Peer review publication policies

All manuscripts submitted to IJPDS that are selected for peer-review are sent to at least two independent reviewers as chosen by the editors. Authors are welcome to provide suitable reviewer suggestions as long as they are deemed independent. Authors may also request that we exclude reviewers where there may be a conflict of interests. All such requests are carefully considered, but the final decision on choice of referees lies with the editors.

IJPDS peer-review is a confidential process and it is expected that editors, reviewers and authors maintain confidentiality of all details pertaining to a submitted manuscript. If a reviewer wishes to seek advice of a colleague then they are required to contact the editor in the first instance and, if permitted to consult with a colleague, the colleague’s name must be included in the final report.

It is IJPDS policy that all correspondence in relation to the peer-review process, referees reviews or any other material deemed confidential must never be published or disclosed without prior written consent.

Ethics and security

If any aspect of a manuscript raises concerns such as ethical issues, or data access issues, then the editors may seek advice from appropriate experts. Ultimately, the decision whether to publish is the responsibility of the Editor-in-Chief.