KCJ Peer Review

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Introduction

Criteria for publication

The review process

Selection of peer-reviewers

Access to the literature

Peer reviewer guidance

Reviewing peer review

Peer-review publication policies

Peer review models

Timing

Anonymity

Peer reviewer misconduct

Introduction

All original research articles, and other article types, except invited review works published in Kidney Cancer Journal undergo peer review. This usually involves review by at least two independent, expert peer reviewers. Individual journals may differ in their peer review processes (e.g. open or blinded); please refer author guidelines for details.
It is editors' experience that the peer-review process is an essential part of the publication process, which improves the manuscripts our journals publish. Not only does peer review provide an independent assessment of the importance and technical accuracy of the results described, but the feedback from referees conveyed to authors with the editors' advice frequently results in manuscripts being refined so that their structure and logic is more readily apparent to readers.
Kidney Cancer Journal is appreciative of its peer-reviewers and our editors can ensure that the manuscripts we publish are among the most important in their disciplines of scientific research. We appreciate the time that reviewers devote to assessing the manuscripts we send them, which helps ensure that Kidney Cancer Journal publishes only material of the very highest quality. In particular, many submitted manuscripts contain large volumes of additional (supplementary) data and other material, which take time to evaluate. We thank our reviewers for their continued commitment to our publication process.

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Criteria for publication

All submissions to Kidney Cancer Journal are first reviewed for completeness and then assessed by an Editor who will decide whether they are suitable for peer review. Another member of the Editorial Board will be assigned to oversee peer review. Editors will consider the peer-reviewed reports when making a decision, but are not bound by the opinions or recommendations therein. Manuscript may be rejected upon a concern raised by a single peer reviewer or the Editor. Authors receive peer review reports with the editorial decision on their manuscript.
In general, to be acceptable, a paper should represent an advance in understanding likely to influence thinking in the field, with strong evidence for their conclusions. There should be a discernible reason why the work deserves the visibility of publication in KCJ rather than the best of the specialist journals. KCJ recognizes the importance of post-publication commentary on published research as necessary to advancing scientific discourse. Formal post-publication commentary on published papers can involve challenges, clarifications or, in some cases, replication of the published work and may, after peer review, be published online as Matters Arising, usually alongside a Reply from the authors. Details of the submission criteria and peer review process for Matters Arising are provided in the Guide to Authors for each individual journal.

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Submission Checklist

All submitted manuscripts are read by the editorial staff. 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 or otherwise inappropriate are rejected promptly without external review (although these decisions may be based on informal advice from specialists in the field). Manuscripts judged to be of potential interest to our readership are sent for formal review, typically to two or three reviewers, but sometimes more if special advice is needed (for example on statistics or a particular technique). The editors then make a decision based on the reviewers' advice, from among several possibilities:

Before submitting

  • 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 outright, typically on grounds of specialist interest, lack of novelty, insufficient conceptual advance or major technical and/or interpretational problems
  • Reviewers are welcome to recommend a particular course of action, but they should bear in mind that the other reviewers of a particular paper may have different technical expertise and/or views, and the editors may have to make a decision based on conflicting advice. The most useful reports, therefore, provide the editors with the information on which a decision should be based. Setting out the arguments for and against publication is often more helpful to the editors than a direct recommendation one way or the other. Editorial decisions are not a matter of counting votes or numerical rank assessments, and we do not always follow the majority recommendation. We try to evaluate the strength of the arguments raised by each reviewer and by the authors, and we may also consider other information not available to either party. Our primary responsibilities are to our readers and to the scientific community at large, and in deciding how best to serve them, we must weigh the claims of each paper against the many others also under consideration. We may return to reviewers for further advice, particularly in cases where they disagree with each other, or where the authors believe they have been misunderstood on points of fact. We therefore ask that reviewers should be willing to provide follow-up advice as requested. We are very aware, however, that reviewers are usually reluctant to be drawn into prolonged disputes, so we try to keep consultation to the minimum we judge necessary to provide a fair hearing for the authors. When reviewers agree to assess a paper, we consider this a commitment to review subsequent revisions. However, editors will not send a resubmitted paper back to the reviewers if it seems that the authors have not made a serious attempt to address the criticisms. We take reviewers' criticisms seriously; in particular, we are very reluctant to disregard technical criticisms. In cases where one reviewer alone opposes publication, we may consult the other reviewers as to whether they are applying an unduly critical standard. We occasionally bring in additional reviewers to resolve disputes, but we prefer to avoid doing so unless there is a specific issue, for example a specialist technical point, on which we feel a need for further advice.

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    Selection of peer-reviewers

    Reviewer selection is critical to the publication process and the selection is based on many factors, including expertise, reputation, specific recommendations and our own previous experience of a reviewer's characteristics. For instance, we select referees who are quick, careful and provide reasoning for their views, whether robustly critical or forgiving.

    We check with potential reviewers before sending them manuscripts to review. Reviewers should bear in mind that these messages contain confidential information, which should be treated as such.

    Kidney Cancer Journal strive toward a diverse demographic representation within our reviewer database. We would therefore like to strongly encourage authors who suggest reviewers to provide a diverse list of their peers, in particular with respect to gender and geography.

    Editor Responsibilities:

    ● Editor(s) are expected to obtain a minimum of two peer reviewers for manuscripts reporting primary research or secondary analysis of primary research. It is recognized that in some exceptional circumstances, particularly in niche and emerging fields, it may not be possible to obtain two independent peer reviewers. In such cases, Editor(s) may wish to make a decision to publish based on one peer review report. When making a decision based on one report, Editor(s) are expected to only do so if the peer review report meets the standards set out below.

    ● Peer review reports should be in English and provide constructive critical evaluations of the authors’ work, particularly in relation to the appropriateness of methods used, whether the results are accurate, and whether the conclusions are supported by the results. Editorial decisions should be based on peer reviewer comments that meet these criteria rather than on recommendations made by short, superficial peer reviewer reports which do not provide a rationale for the recommendations.

    ● Editor(s) are expected to independently verify the contact details of reviewers suggested by authors or other third parties. Institutional email addresses should be used to invite peer reviewers wherever possible. Each manuscript should be reviewed by at least one reviewer who was not suggested by the author.

    ● Manuscripts that do not report primary research or secondary analysis of primary research, such as Editorials, Book Reviews, Commentaries or Opinion articles, may be accepted without peer review. Such manuscripts should be assessed by the Editor(s) if the topic is in the area of expertise of the Editor(s); if the topic is not in area of expertise of the Editor(s), such manuscripts should be assessed by at least one independent expert reviewer or Editorial Board Member.

    When two independent peer reviewers cannot be secured in unlikely rare scenario, the Editor may act as a second reviewer or make a decision using only one report.

    ● Editor must have a sufficient amount of knowledge in the area if acting as a second reviewer

    ● Editor should sign the review to ensure transparency in the peer review process

    ● Any single reports should be detailed and thorough

    ● The first reviewer should be senior, on topic and have published recently on the subject

    Potential peer reviewers should inform the Editor of any possible conflicts of interest before accepting an invitation to review a manuscript. Communications between Editors and peer reviewers contain confidential information that should not be shared with third parties.

    Some journals allow authors to suggest potential reviewers, and to request that some be excluded from consideration (usually a maximum of two people/research groups). Editors will consider these requests, but are not obliged to fulfill them. The Editor's decision on the choice of peer reviewers is final.

    Authors should not recommend recent collaborators or colleagues who work in the same institution as themselves. Authors can suggest peer reviewers in the cover letter. Information which will help the Editor verify the identity and expertise of the reviewer will be required. This includes the suggested reviewer’s institutional email address and ORCID or Scopus ID.

    Access to the literature

    If a reviewer does not have access to any published paper that is necessary for evaluation of a submitted manuscript, the journal will supply the reviewer with a copy. Under these circumstances, the reviewer should send the publication reference of the paper required to the editor who sent them the paper to review. The editor will obtain the paper, paying any necessary fees, and send it to the reviewer.

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    Peer reviewer guidance

    The primary purpose of the review is to provide the editors with the information needed to reach a decision but the review should also instruct the authors on how they can strengthen their paper to the point where it may be acceptable. As far as possible, a negative review should explain to the authors the major weaknesses of their manuscript, so that rejected authors can understand the basis for the decision and see in broad terms what needs to be done to improve the manuscript for publication elsewhere. Referees should be aware that when declined manuscripts are transferred to another journal in the Nature Portfolio portfolio the referee comments are also transferred, and can be used to determine suitability of publication at the receiving journal. In the case of manuscript transfers between Kidney Cancer Journal with in-house editors, referee identities are also transferred. We expect peer reviewers adhere to the principles of COPE's Ethical Guidelines for Peer-reviewers. Confidential comments to the editor are welcome, but they should not contradict the main points as stated in the comments for transmission to the authors.

    The following conventions should be respected:

  • Reviewers should review the peer review policy of the Journal before revealing their reviewer role.
  • Reviews should be conducted objectively.
  • Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate, as are defamatory/libelous remarks.
  • Reviewers should express their views clearly with supporting arguments and references.
  • Reviewers should declare any potential competing interests.
  • Reviewers should decline to review manuscripts with which they believe they have a competing interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers.
  • Reviewers should respect the confidentiality of material supplied to them and not discuss unpublished manuscripts with colleagues or use the information in their own work.
  • Any reviewer who wants to pass a peer review invitation onto a colleague must contact the journal in the first instance. We ask reviewers the following questions, to provide an assessment of the various aspects of a manuscript:
  • Key results: Please summarise what you consider to be the outstanding features of the work.
  • Validity: Does the manuscript have flaws which should prohibit its publication? If so, please provide details.
  • Originality and significance: If the conclusions are not original, please provide relevant references. On a more subjective note, do you feel that the results presented are of immediate interest to many people in your own discipline, and/or to people from several disciplines?
  • Data & methodology: Please comment on the validity of the approach, quality of the data and quality of presentation. Please note that we expect our reviewers to review all data, including any extended data and supplementary information. Is the reporting of data and methodology sufficiently detailed and transparent to enable reproducing the results?
  • Appropriate use of statistics and treatment of uncertainties: All error bars should be defined in the corresponding figure legends; please comment if that’s not the case. Please include in your report a specific comment on the appropriateness of any statistical tests, and the accuracy of the description of any error bars and probability values.
  • Conclusions: Do you find that the conclusions and data interpretation are robust, valid and reliable? Suggested improvements: Please list additional experiments or data that could help strengthening the work in a revision.
  • References: Does this manuscript reference previous literature appropriately? If not, what references should be included or excluded?
  • Clarity and context: Is the abstract clear, accessible? Are abstract, introduction and conclusions appropriate? Please indicate any particular part of the manuscript, data, or analyses that you feel is outside the scope of your expertise, or that you were unable to assess fully. Please address any other specific question asked by the editor via email. It is our policy to remain neutral with respect to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations, and the naming conventions used in maps and affiliation are left to the discretion of authors. Referees should not, therefore, request authors to make any changes to such unless it is critical to the clarity of the scientific content of a manuscript.

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    Peer review models

    Double blind peer review

    All Nature-branded journals and Communications journals offer a double-blind peer review option. Authors who choose this option at submission remain anonymous to the referees throughout the consideration process. The authors are responsible for anonymizing their manuscript accordingly; a checklist is provided to help with this process. More information is available in Editorials, including this Nature announcement and earlier publications related to trials that started in 2013 in Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change.

    Transparent peer review

    Transparent peer review Nature, Nature Communications, Communications Biology, Communications Chemistry, Communications Physics, Communications Earth & Environment, Communications Materials, Communications Medicine, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Ecology & Evolution, Nature Human Behaviour, Nature Immunology, Nature Microbiology and Nature Structural & Molecular Biology use a transparent peer review system, where we are publishing the reviewer comments to the authors and author rebuttal letters of revised versions of our published research articles, as well as the editorial decision letters for some of the journals listed above. Authors are provided the opportunity to opt in to this scheme at the completion of the peer review process, before the paper is accepted. If the manuscript was transferred to us from another Nature Portfolio journal, we will not publish reviewer reports or author rebuttals of versions of the manuscript considered by the originating Nature Portfolio journal. The peer review file is published online as a supplementary peer review file. Although we hope that the peer review files will provide a detailed and useful view into our peer review process, it is important to note that these files will not contain all the information considered in the editorial decision making process, such as the discussions between editors or any confidential comments made by reviewers or authors to the editors.

    Timing

    Kidney Cancer Journal is committed to rapid editorial decisions and publication, and we believe that an efficient editorial process is a valuable service both to our authors and to the scientific community as a whole. We therefore ask reviewers to respond promptly within the number of days agreed. If reviewers anticipate a longer delay than previously expected, we ask them to let us know so that we can keep the authors informed and, where necessary, find alternatives.

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    Anonymity

    We do not release referees' identities to authors or to other reviewers unless a referee voluntarily signs their comments to the authors. To increase the transparency of the reviewing process, reviewers may sign their reports, if they feel comfortable doing so. Before revealing their identities, referees should consider the following: (1) Referee reports, whether signed or not, are subsequently shared with the other reviewers and with other Kidney Cancer Journal if the manuscript were to be transferred and (2) Reviewers may be asked to comment on the criticisms of other reviewers and on further revisions of the manuscript and identified reviewers may find these discussions more challenging. We ask reviewers not to identify themselves to authors while the manuscript is under consideration without the editor's knowledge. If this is not practicable, we ask authors to inform the editor as soon as possible after a reviewer has revealed his or her identity to the author. We deplore any attempt by authors to confront reviewer or determine their identities. Our own policy is to neither confirm nor deny any speculation about reviewers' identities.

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    Peer reviewer misconduct

    Providing false or misleading information—for example, identity theft and suggesting fake peer-reviewers—will result in rejection of the manuscript, further investigation in line with Springer Nature’s misconduct policy, and notification to the authors’ institutions/employers. Springer journals are members of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). More information about peer reviewer fraud/falsification can be found here.

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    Privacy policy

    Kidney Cancer Journal’s privacy policy.