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How to review a paper for Heart
  1. Catherine M Otto
  1. Correspondence to Professor Catherine M Otto, Division of Cardiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA; cmotto{at}

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Peer review is a core component of the scientific method. Pre-publication peer review for a medical journal serves two purposes. First, the review process assists the editorial team in selecting which papers should be published, based on several factors such as originality, scientific validity, match with the journal's scope and readers’ interest. Second, peer review improves the quality of the final published papers, particularly in terms of presentation of the study design, data analysis and research results. Some aspects of the review process are similar across scientific journals, while others are specific to the focus of each journal.1–4 This article presents suggestions for reviewers for Heart, an international journal that publishes clinical and translational cardiovascular research.

Most of us have experienced the peer-review process both as an author and as a reviewer. Authors of previous publications are the peer reviewers for submitted manuscripts; your peer reviewers in the future will be the authors of papers you review today. We should be courteous to each other and respectful of scientific work. Part of that respect is an impartial and fair review. Write your review in a style as if you have your name declared, as many journals now request.3 Authors appreciate a short review cycle; currently, the rate-limiting step in the review cycle is the time that reviewers take to respond and submit their reviews. Reading a paper and writing the review typically only takes 2–3 hours; if you have time and the paper is within your area of expertise, accept right away and download the file to read as soon as possible. Submit your review on time, or even early. If you are unable to review, decline immediately so the editors can invite an alternate reviewer.

My approach to reviewing a paper is to first read the abstract. …

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