The COPE guidelines Editing peer reviews, are intended to advise editors, publishers, and researchers on expected practices and appropriate circumstances regarding the editing of peer reviews.
The guidelines look at the need for journals to amend peer reviews, and provide insight into situations where this might be an appropriate course of action. Journals should have clear policies on what is acceptable and unacceptable in a reviewer report regarding tone, language, and content, and advice on the extent to which a review can be edited to adhere to these policies. There are alternative methods for editors to deal with controversial content, and advice is given on how to respond to hostile or unprofessional reviews.
COPE Guidelines are formal COPE policy and are intended to advise editors and publishers on expected publication ethics practice.
- Journals should have clear guidelines for reviewers on what is acceptable and unacceptable in a reviewer report regarding tone, language, and content.
- Journal policy should clearly state whether the journal edits reviews, and under what circumstances a review might be edited.
- Reviewers should be invited to edit their review report themselves to comply with the journal’s guidelines.
- Editors should inform reviewers of any significant edits made to their review.
- Edits to reviews should address only issues of tone, language, and deviations from journal policy and reviewer guidelines, and should not change the meaning or intention of the review, nor alter the reviewer’s professional opinion about the quality, content, or intellectual validity of the manuscript under review.
- Alternatives to editing reviews include editors providing a cautionary note in their decision letter.
- Journals should have a policy on how to respond to hostile or unprofessional reviews.