Guidelines for Referees of Articles for Medical Physics (as of 12/15/2010)

General Comments

Every scientific article submitted to Medical Physics is peer-reviewed by individuals selected for their knowledge of the topic of the article, and for their objectivity and experience in assessing the scientific merit and clarity of presentation of scientific publications.

Because you meet these criteria, you have been asked to review an article for Medical Physics. The Journal’s editor and associate editors appreciate your willingness to serve in this capacity. Your review will contribute to the scientific accuracy of the Journal, and will help the author(s) present their research in an understandable and succinct manner.

Your review should provide a critical and impersonal evaluation that includes suggestions to be considered and actions to be taken to make the article acceptable for publication. Your comments should provide both a general impression [General Comments] of the article and specific suggestions [Specific Comments] for the article’s improvement. Both categories of comments will be shared anonymously with the author(s).  Each comment should be numbered for ease of response by the authors.  As a reviewer, you are not expected to redesign the experiment described in the article, or to recommend extensive changes in the method used or data reported in the article. Please focus your remarks on the article, and not on how you would have performed the experiment. You should also provide an overall appraisal of the article, and guidance regarding its disposition in the form of Comments to the Editor.  These comments will not be shared with the author(s). Please upload your comments as a Word document or pdf file. Please do not upload your comments in a zip file because those files are often difficult for the authors to open.

If you believe the article is unworthy of publication in Medical Physics, you must state your reasons objectively, completely and without prejudice. Critical comments are important in a review, but they must always be presented in a respectful manner.

It is not necessary for the referee to identify misspellings, typographical errors or grammatical misconstructions, unless these are technical in nature and might not be picked up during the copyediting process. Routine misspellings and other grammatical errors will be corrected by the copyeditors. However, if the referee believes that the English needs to be improved, the referee may request of the authors that they have the paper reviewed before the manuscript is submitted. Manuscripts are expected to be written in excellent English and composed according to Medical Physics specifications, including article headings and references. A referee may return the manuscript without review if the English is so poor that reading it becomes a burden.

In serving as a referee, it is permissible to ask a student or fellow to review an article as a learning experience, provided that the need for confidentiality is stressed. However, you also must review the article and the comments of the student or fellow, and submit the review as your own work.

Specific Comments

Please respond promptly to a request to serve as a referee. Reviews must be completed as quickly as possible, and no later than 2 weeks from the date of invitation. If you are unable to meet this requirement, please decline the invitation to review at your earliest opportunity so a replacement referee can be identified.

Medical Physics Letters are brief manuscripts that have special requirements for referees. Medical Physics Letters are short articles (3 printed journal pages or less) on a scientific or clinical topic of overriding importance to medical physicists. Letters are to be reviewed within 5 business days of receipt, and one of only three recommendations should be made: Accept, Accept with Minor Revisions, or Reject. A manuscript that is not accepted as a Medical Physics Letter may be expanded into a Research Paper and resubmitted.

All reviews are completed electronically by clicking on the link http://medphys.peerx-press.org, which is also where the article to be reviewed may be accessed. The review process allows you to paste in a word document of your review, if you prefer to develop the review off-line. The review process is freeform, but you should include in your evaluation the accuracy, originality and completeness of the science, the clarity and succinctness of the writing, the quality and necessity of all illustrations and tables, the comprehensiveness of the literature review, the format of the paper and references, the relevance of the title and abstract, the appropriateness of the subject material to the journal, and any other issues you feel are important. In your comments, please distinguish between suggestions for discretionary changes that you feel will improve the manuscript, and mandatory changes required to make the manuscript acceptable for publication (if they exist).  Questions about the electronic review process will be answered promptly by sending them to journal@aapm.org.

The article should present original, previously unpublished information. If there is evidence to the contrary, the referee should cite references that provide the evidence. The referee should be particularly alert to information in the article that might have been taken from another publication without an appropriate reference. Medical Physics follows the plagiarism policy of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, which can be accessed at www.aapm.org. If there is an appearance of plagiarism, it should be brought immediately to the attention of the editor.

Estimates and computations should be verified in the manuscript, and conclusions drawn from data should be confirmed to be plausible. References should be pertinent to the manuscript, and expressed accurately and completely. “Private communication” and commercial manuals are not appropriate references, and should not be included in the bibliography; instead, they should be cited as a footnote to the text, if they must be included at all. Identification of a commercial name or product can be mentioned in the text or as a footnote, but should not be included in the article’s title, running title, abstract or key words.

SI units should be used in the article, and if other units are still widely accepted, SI units should be expressed in parentheses. Nonessential information should be identified for potential removal from the text, with the possibility that contributing but nonessential information could be expressed in the PAPS/E-PAPS program described on the journal website.

The referee should be alert to any negative comments by the author(s) towards the work of others, as such comments are not appropriate for articles in Medical Physics. The referee should also guard against negative comments towards the article under review; general and specific comments by the referee can point out shortcomings of an article without denigrating the article.

You may, if you wish, recommend an illustration from the article for the front cover of the Journal.