What constitues a good report?

Nature Cell Biology continues its coverage of peer-review in its (free access) April Editorial ‘Good review’ (Nat. Cell Biol. 10, 371; 2008).

After stating the rationale for peer-review, the Editorial asks whether reviewing is essentially an altruistic activity, or whether there are significant rewards for doing it. “The biggest benefit of refereeing is probably to stay engaged with the scientific community in a sort of ‘real-impact journal club’. We review less than a quarter of submitted manuscripts, with the aim of involving referees only for studies that seem worthy of publication. This saves time for authors, and referees know that the manuscripts they receive meet a minimum standard, so that refereeing should be an enriching experience. Nevertheless, the time commitment for refereeing is considerable and we are campaigning to ensure that this is taken into account in assessing research performance.”

Although much has been said about alternatives and enhancements to ‘single-blind’ peer review, what actually constitutes a good referee report? The rest of the Editorial provides some answers, which are further explored at our author and peer-reviewers’ website.

Nature Cell Biology’s previous editorial (March 2008) is discussed here.


  1. Report this comment

    Regular scientist said:


    You gotta be kidding if Nat Cell Biology is a role model for peer reviewing.

    The journal sometimes asks the authors to undertake many experiments even before sending a paper to review. Not strangely, papers in Nat Cell Biology, even small reports, end with a complete Rugby starting line up of Supplementary Figures (up to 20, I´ve seen).

    I miss the old days where publications were just a mean to send a very interesting result, with which you will extend and discuss why it was important for your field.

    The idea of Nat Cell Biology is undermining research efforts in the authors´ labs, which have to dedicate an enormous effort to provide many additional experiments that don´t even add much to the concept. This is not what science, and the peer review process, should be about.

    I would recommend the editors of Nat Cell Biol a calm reading of the original paper on the structure of nucleic acids… and the way it was written. Something to learn.

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