(Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1999;19:1367).
As we begin our tenure as Editors of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, we will outline goals for reviews and reviewers. Although we realize that these guidelines are not necessary for experienced, superb reviewers, there are three goals for clarifying review criteria for both reviewers and authors. The clarification may:
assist less experienced reviewers who are eager to hone their skills;
assist authors, by encouraging reviewers to focus on major points;
and promote a dialogue about reviews and how to improve the review process. We will consider for publication letters that address principles of the review process.
The overall goal of reviews and the editorial process is to assist the author in publication of a concise, convincing paper that provides important new data and concepts to our readers. It is important that manuscripts are reviewed rapidly and then published without undue delay. We suggest that goals of reviewers and editors are to:
select the most appropriate papers for publication;
assist authors and readers by improving the quality of papers in relation to validity of conclusions and clarity of the message. Reviewers generally should request additional experiments only if the experiments are important for support or rejection of the hypothesis that is stated in the manuscript;
and avoid offending authors, particularly those whose manuscripts are rejected.
In my opinion, the first goal of a review is to determine whether the hypothesis is clearly stated, important, and novel. If a study does not meet these criteria, the manuscript may not achieve a sufficiently high priority for publication, even if the methods and conclusions are sound. The second goal is to determine whether the methods and experimental design are appropriate. The final goal is to determine whether the interpretation and conclusions are valid.
When a manuscript will be accepted, the reader benefits when reviewers suggest ways to trim verbosity. If methods have been published previously, it is appropriate for authors to refer to the previous publication and to provide only a brief description of methods. As electronic publication continues to expand, it will be possible to publish some details electronically. General review of the area of research in the Introduction and Discussion should be minimal. The Introduction should provide a brief scientific background that focuses on the rationale and hypothesis. The Discussion should provide a scholarly critique of the findings, including brief comments about limitations of the techniques or interpretation of the data. Brief comments about implications of the findings are appropriate. My feeling is that major findings are best illustrated by figures, and supporting data can most efficiently be published in a table or the text.
We thank in advance the dedicated and altruistic reviewers who spend an enormous amount of time reviewing manuscripts and are the cornerstone of our peer-review process.
Donald D. Heistad
Editor, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology