Peer-Review Guide

Peer reviewers are a critical component of the publication process, ensuring quality and relevancy of articles accepted for print as well as assisting in author development. All reviews are completed online only at, so access to a computer and Internet is required. Not a reviewer yet but interested in joining? Complete an application and return to
Already a reviewer? Below is some information to assist you. Or contact for assistance. 

Reviewer Responsibilities

  • Complete 3-6 reviews annually. 
  • Complete appropriate forms.
    • ONS antitrust (initially and annually)
    • ONS conflict of interest (initially and annually)
    • Contact information (update as needed)
    • Areas of expertise (initially and as requested)
  • Provide reviews that are constructive and supportive. 
  • Complete reviews according to the deadline provided, usually 2-3 weeks.
  • Maintain confidentiality of all content. Manuscripts under review cannot be duplicated, quoted, or distributed. Any manuscript files should be destroyed after review completion.

Invitation Process

  • After submission, the manuscript is initially reviewed by the editor and staff to ensure appropriateness for the journal. 
  • The editor identifies potential reviewers based on their self-selected areas of expertise. Also considered is the timing of the most recent review. 
  • Potential reviewers receive an email invitation containing the manuscript’s abstract.
    • Reviewers can accept or decline to review.
      • Long-term unavailability can be indicated after logging into Select User ID/Password from the dropdown menu below your name. Change availability at Unavailable Dates.
      • If you have to decline, consider referring the editor to a current or potential new reviewer. 

Review Process 

  • To review and score a manuscript you’ve accepted, go to and sign on with your username and password.
  • After logging in, click on the Review tab at the top of the screen.
  • Find the manuscript to which you are currently assigned under the Review and Score heading.
  • Click Select under the Action heading to view the following available options:
    • Continue Review
    • View Abstract
    • View Proof (in a new window)
    • Contact Journal
  • Click Continue Review to begin your review. 
  • View and read the manuscript to the left of the screen.
    • Click the Proof tab on the upper left of the PDF and select Open PDF to view the manuscript in a separate browser window.
      • Tip: To scroll through the manuscript PDF, ensure that your cursor is hovering over the PDF proof.
    • Click Open HTML to view the Microsoft Word copy of the manuscript in a separate browser window.
    • Click the Details tab to view the manuscript details.
  • Read the manuscript at least three times. The first is to gain a general impression, and the second and third readings will help identify areas for improvement or revision. 
  • On the right-hand side of the screen, access Review Guidelines and complete the Score Sheet, responding to all reviewer questions. Tip: To scroll down on the Score Sheet, hover your cursor anywhere outside of the PDF proof.
    • Comments to the author are provided verbatim.
    • Comments to the editor are seen only by the editor and editorial staff. 
    • Additional files, such as reference materials, may be attached. Attachments can be directed to the (a) editor and editorial staff or (b) the editor and the author.
  • Recommend the manuscript’s next step. Should the manuscript be accepted, revised, referred elsewhere, or rejected? There are several levels of acceptance.
    • ​Accept manuscript
    • Accept with revisions 
    • Resubmit for second review 
    • Substantial revision needed
    • Reject manuscript
  • Click Save as Draft when you are finished. 
  • Click Submit to complete the process. 
  • Note: Contact the editor with any concerns about the review by clicking the Contact Journal link above the Score Sheet. Alternatively, you may contact the editorial office at

Tips for Review Comments

  • Avoid rewriting, correcting grammar and punctuation, or correcting reference styles. 
  • Instead, identify the major strengths and weaknesses and provide specific suggestions for improvement.
  • Comment on the clarity of the content as well as its presentation.
    • Do the title and abstract represent the work?
    • Are reference materials interpreted correctly?
    • Do tables and figures support the work?
  • Discuss the appropriateness and accuracy of the information.
  • Are the references pertinent, timely, balanced, and evidence based?
  • See these sample reviews.

After the Review

  • The editor will consider all manuscript reviewers’ comments and render a decision.
  • You will receive blinded copies of the editor’s letter to the author.
    • Review this letter. It contains all reviewer comments to strengthen your future reviews.
  • If a manuscript is revised and resubmitted, you will be provided the opportunity to re-review.
Thank you for participating as a reviewer. Contact us at with any questions.