Peer Review at Science Publications

As a peer reviewer for Science magazine, you are part of a valued community. Scientific progress depends on the communication of information that can be trusted, and the peer review process is a vital part of that system.

Only some of the submitted papers are reviewed in depth. For in-depth review, at least two outside referees are consulted. Reviewers are contacted before being sent a paper and are asked to return comments within 1 to 2 weeks for most papers. Reviewers may be selected to evaluate separate components of a manuscript. Science now gives the opportunity for cross-review. Once all reviews are in, you will be invited to read the other reviews and make additional comments within 2 business days. Cross-review is not required. If we do not receive comments we will proceed based on the reviews in hand. In cases where the decision is clear we may proceed without cross-review, in these cases you will be sent the other reviews for your information. We greatly appreciate the time spent in preparing a review, and will consult you on a revision of a manuscript only if we believe the paper has been significantly improved but still requires input. The final responsibility for decisions of acceptance or rejection of a submitted manuscript lies with the editor.

Ethical Guidelines for Reviewers

  1. Reviews should be objective evaluations of the research. If you cannot judge a paper impartially, you should not accept it for review or you should notify the editor as soon as you appreciate the situation. If you have any professional or financial affiliations that may be perceived as a conflict of interest in reviewing the manuscript, or a history of personal differences with the author(s), you should describe them in your confidential comments.
  2. If, as a reviewer, you believe that you are not qualified to evaluate a component of the research, you should inform the editor in your review.
  3. Reviews should be constructive and courteous and the reviewer should respect the intellectual independence of the author. The reviewer should avoid personal comments; Science reserves the right to edit out comments that will hinder constructive discussion of manuscripts.
  4. Just as you wish prompt evaluations of your own research, please return your reviews within the time period specified when you were asked to review the paper. If events will prevent a timely review, it is your responsibility to inform the editor at the time of the request.
  5. The review process is conducted anonymously; Science never reveals the identity of reviewers to authors. The privacy and anonymity provisions of this process extend to the reviewer, who should not reveal his or her identity to outsiders or members of the press. The review itself will be shared only with the author, and possibly with other reviewers and our Board.
  6. The submitted manuscript is a privileged communication and must be treated as a confidential document. Please destroy all copies of the manuscript after review. Please do not share the manuscript with any colleagues without the explicit permission of the editor. Reviewers should not make personal or professional use of the data or interpretations before publication without the authors' specific permission (unless you are writing an editorial or commentary to accompany the article).
  7. You should be aware of Science’s policies for authors regarding conflict of interest, data availability, and materials sharing. See the General Information for Authors Page.

Some Additional Resources for the Peer Review Process

Download Science's Instructions for Reviewers (PDF Format)

Council of Science Editors, White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications.

Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research (American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, January 2000).

The World Association of Medical Editors

PRE (Peer Review Evaluation)

The Science family of journals uses the PRE (Peer Review Evaluation) service to share information about our peer review process and show our commitment to the integrity of scientific communication. Click the PRE badge image on our article pages for at-a-glance information about the peer review process for each research article including method of review, number of reviewers, and rounds of review. Readers also have quick access to our peer review policy and the organizations and standards we support.