• Guide for Reviewers


    About the Journal

    Genes & Diseases is an international journal for molecular and translational medicine. The journal primarily focuses on publishing investigations on the molecular bases and experimental therapeutics of human diseases. Publication formats include full length research article, review article, short communication, correspondence, perspectives, commentary, views on news, and research watch.


    Aims and Scopes

    Genes & Diseases publishes rigorously peer-reviewed and high quality original articles and authoritative reviews that focus on the molecular bases of human diseases. Emphasis will be placed on hypothesis-driven, mechanistic studies relevant to pathogenesis and/or experimental therapeutics of human diseases. The journal has worldwide authorship, and a broad scope in basic and translational biomedical research of molecular biology, molecular genetics, and cell biology, including but not limited to cell proliferation and apoptosis, signal transduction, stem cell biology, developmental biology, gene regulation and epigenetics, cancer biology, immunity and infection, neuroscience, disease-specific animal models, gene and cell-based therapies, and regenerative medicine.


    Review Process

    All submitted manuscripts are assessed by the editor(s) for suitability for the review process. The views of an Editorial Board member may be sought for further input towards this decision. To save authors and reviewers time, only those manuscripts judged most likely to meet our editorial criteria are sent out for formal review.

    Manuscripts that are sent for formal review typically go to 2 reviewers. Based on their advice, the editor decides to:

    • accept the manuscript, with or without minor revision
    • invite the authors to revise the manuscript to address specific concerns before a final decision is reached
    • the manuscript is rejected with an invite to resubmit the work as a new paper once additional experiments have been carried out
    • or reject the manuscript, typically on grounds of specialist interest, lack of novelty, insufficient conceptual advance or major technical and/or interpretational problems.

    Reviewers may recommend a particular course of action in their confidential comments to the editor, but should bear in mind that the editors may have to make a decision based on conflicting advice. Furthermore, editorial decisions are not a matter of counting votes or numerical rank assessments, but rather are based on an evaluation of the strengths of the arguments raised by each reviewer and by the authors. The most useful review reports, therefore, are those that set out clear, substantiated arguments and refrain from recommending a course of action in the comments directed to the authors.

    Reviewers may, on occasion, be asked for further advice, particularly in cases where they disagree with one another, or where the authors believe that they have been misunderstood on points of fact. This kind of discussion is sometimes necessary to provide an effective and fair review process. We do understand, however, that reviewers are reluctant to be drawn into prolonged disputes, so we try to keep consultation to the minimum we judge necessary to come to a fair conclusion. In certain cases, additional reviewers or members of our Editorial Board may be consulted to resolve disputes, but this is avoided unless there is a specific issue on which further advice is required.


    You’ve been asked to review


    Make sure the article you have been asked to review truly matches your expertise

    The Editor who has approached you may not know your work intimately, and may only be aware of your work in a broader context. Only accept an invitation if you are competent to review the article.

     Avoid a potential conflict of interest
    A conflict of interest will not necessarily eliminate you from reviewing an article, but full disclosure to the editor will allow them to make an informed decision. For example; if you work in the same department or institute as one of the authors; if you have worked on a paper previously with an author; or you have a professional or financial connection to the article. These should all be listed when responding to the editor’s invitation for review.

    Check that you have enough time
    Reviewing an article can be quite time consuming. The time taken to review can vary greatly between disciplines and of course on article type, but on average, an article will take about 5 hours to review properly. Will you have sufficient time before the deadline stipulated in the invitation to conduct a thorough review?

    Understand what it means to accept to review and manage deadlines
    Deadlines for reviews vary per journal. The editors will provide information on deadline expectations with the review request. Let them know within a day or two that you got the request. They will appreciate being informed in a timely manner if you are able to complete the review or not. There are no consequences for refusing to review a paper.

    If you feel the review will take you longer to complete than normal, please contact the editor to discuss the matter. The editor may ask you to recommend an alternate reviewer, or may be willing to wait a little longer (e.g., if the paper is highly specialized and reviewers are difficult to find). As a general guideline, if you know you will not be able to complete a review within the time frame requested, you should decline to review the paper.


    Conducting a review



    If you suspect that an article is a substantial copy of another work, please let the editor know, citing the previous work in as much detail as possible.

    It is very difficult to detect the determined fraudster, but if you suspect the results in an article to be untrue, discuss it with the editor.

    Other ethical concerns
    For medical research, has confidentiality been maintained? Has there been a violation of the accepted norms in the ethical treatment of animal or human subjects? If so, then these should also be identified to the editor.


    Do not disclose to others
    Any manuscripts received for review must be treated as confidential documents. They must not be shown to, or discussed with, others except as authorized by the editor. Unpublished materials disclosed in a submitted manuscript must not be used in a reviewer’s own research without the express written consent of the author. Privileged information or ideas obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not used for personal advantage.

    Requesting the opinion of a single colleague may be appropriate in some circumstances but you should always let the editor know beforehand. Most editors welcome additional comments, but whoever else is involved will also need to keep the review process confidential. If the review is referred to a student, he or she should communicate directly with the editor.

    Reviewer identity is generally not shared with the author
    Although journal practices vary, most journals do not share the identity of the reviewer with the author. To help us protect your identity, please do not reveal your name within the text of your review. It also implies you should not attempt to contact the author.


    Is the article sufficiently novel and interesting to warrant publication? Does it add to the canon of knowledge? Does the article adhere to the journal's standards? Is the research question an important one? In order to determine its originality and appropriateness for the journal, it might be helpful to think of the research in terms of what percentile it is in? Is it in the top 25% of papers in this field? You might wish to do a quick literature search using tools such as Scopus to see if there are any reviews of the area. If the research has been covered previously, pass on references of those works to the editor.


    Layout and format
    Authors are required to adhere to the journal’s Guide for Authors, which includes manuscript presentation. If the difference is extreme and the editor has not mentioned this issue in the request to review, you may wish to contact your editor to discuss it. Otherwise, you should note this in your review. If the paper is otherwise good, the editor may choose to overlook the formatting issues (for example, if the author comes from outside the discipline but has something valuable to convey to the readers of this journal). Other times, editors may ask the author to restructure the paper before publication.

    Does it clearly describe the article?

    Does it reflect the content of the article?

    Does it describe what the author hoped to achieve accurately, and clearly state the problem being investigated? Normally, the introduction should summarize relevant research to provide context, and explain what other authors' findings, if any, are being challenged or extended. It should describe the experiment, the hypothesis(es) and the general experimental design or method.

    Graphical abstracts and/or highlights

    Where these are included, please check the content and if possible make suggestions for improvements. Do the figures and tables inform the reader, are they an important part of the story? Do the figures describe the data accurately? Are they consistent, e.g. bars in charts are the same width, the scales on the axis are logical.

    Does the author accurately explain how the data was collected? Is the design suitable for answering the question posed? Is there sufficient information present for you to replicate the research? Does the article identify the procedures followed? Are these ordered in a meaningful way? If the methods are new, are they explained in detail? Was the sampling appropriate? Have the equipment and materials been adequately described? Does the article make it clear what type of data was recorded; has the author been precise in describing measurements?

    Statistical errors
    The most common errors are described 

    This is where the author(s) should explain in words what he/she/they discovered in the research. It should be clearly laid out and in a logical sequence. You will need to consider if the appropriate analysis has been conducted. Are the statistics correct? If you are not comfortable with statistics, please advise the editor when you submit your report. Interpretation of results should not be included in this section.


    Are the claims in this section supported by the results, do they seem reasonable? Have the authors indicated how the results relate to expectations and to earlier research? Does the article support or contradict previous theories? Does the conclusion explain how the research has moved the body of scientific knowledge forward?

    If an article is poorly written due to grammatical errors, while it may make it more difficult to understand the science, you do
     notneed to correct the English. You should bring this to the attention of the editor.

    Previous Research

    If the article builds upon previous research does it reference that work appropriately? Are there any important works that have been omitted? Are the references accurate?


    In need of help

    Any queries relating to the content of the paper, please contact the journal editor or the editorial office.

    Technical issues
    For technical issues relating to the Elsevier Editorial System (EES), Elsevier has a reviewers'
    helpdesk that can be contacted or you can pick up the phone:

    The Americas: 1 888 834 7287 (toll free for US & Canadian customers)
    Asia Pacific: 81 3 5561 5032
    Europe & all other areas: 44 1865 84 3577


    Communicating your report to the editor

    Once you have completed your evaluation of the article the next step is to write up your report. Below are some key points to consider during this task.

    Precise instructions on how to format your review will be provided to you by your editor via 
    Elsevier’s online submission system (EES).

    Accessibility of reviewers comments
    An author will only see the comments you have made that are specific to the author; sometimes the editor will edit them.

    Other reviewers' comments can been seen via EES, although not all editors have opted to have this feature activated for their journal. If your journal has not activated this feature, you may contact the editor if you wish to have feedback on your review or on whether the paper was accepted or rejected.

    Provide a quick summary
    Some journals may request that you complete a form, checking various aspects of the paper, others will request an overview of your remarks. Either way, it is helpful to provide a quick summary of the article at the beginning of your report. This serves the dual purpose of reminding the editor of the details of the report and also reassuring the author and editor that you have understood the article.

    Highlight key elements
    The report should contain the key elements of your review, addressing the points outlined in the preceding section. Commentary should be courteous and constructive, and should not include any personal remarks or personal details including your name.

    Explain your judgment
    Providing insight into any deficiencies is important. You should explain and support your judgment so that both editors and authors are able to fully understand the reasoning behind your comments. You should indicate whether your comments are your own opinion or are reflected by the data.

    Classify your recommendation
    When you make a recommendation regarding an article, it is worth considering the categories the editor most likely uses for classifying the article:

    -Reject (explain reason in report)
    -Accept without revision
    -Revise (either major or minor)

    Identify the required revision

    Clearly explain the kind of revision that is required, and indicate to the editor whether or not you would be happy to review the revised article.

    The final decision of whether to accept or reject a particular manuscript lies with the editor. Elsevier plays no part in this decision. The editor will weigh all views and may call for a third opinion or ask the author for a revised paper before making a decision.

    Elsevier’s submission system, EES, allows reviewers to be notified of the outcome of papers they have reviewed. It is left to the editor’s discretion of whether this function is activated for any given journal. If this functionality is not activated for your journal, you may contact the editor if you wish to
    know whether the paper was accepted or rejected.