Cochrane peer review policy statement:
The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is a peer reviewed publication, which means that every Cochrane Review is evaluated by one or more specialists external to the Cochrane Review Group editorial team before publication, and the Cochrane Review authors have the opportunity to revise the Cochrane Review in response to feedback.
Cochrane’s peer review policy covers the peer review of all Cochrane Reviews and Protocols, including Overviews, Prognosis Reviews and Reviews of Diagnostic Test Accuracy (DTA), and also Cochrane Editorials and supplements.
Cochrane Kidney and Transplant peer review procedures:
1. Peer review process
Once a peer reviewer accepts an invitation to comment on a Cochrane Kidney and Transplant Protocol or Review, they will be sent a checklist with guidelines for comments together with the draft manuscript. For updates, they will also be sent a copy of the previous published version of the review.
All checklists and other comments will be forwarded to the authors, together with a checklist and summary written by the Contact Editor and any additional comments provided by the Sign-off Editor. Cochrane Kidney and Transplant follows a named peer review policy, whereby authors and peer reviewers know each other’s identities during the peer review process.
Authors must provide a point-by-point response to peer review comments indicating how they have been addressed, or explaining why they have not been addressed (e.g. difference of opinion). The Contact Editor will have the final decision as to which of the peer reviewers’ comments need to be addressed in the event of disagreement between peer reviewers, or peer reviewer and author.
The peer reviewers will receive a copy of their combined comments at the completion of the peer review process, as well as a PDF of the completed Protocol or Review following publication.
2. Timelines (unless an extension has been agreed in advance)
Peer review comments on Protocols should be returned within 14 days and within 21 days for Reviews.
3. Acknowledgement and credit for peer reviewers
The names of all peer reviewers who have submitted a peer review assessment are published on the Cochrane Kidney and Transplant website, unless they request not to be included.
Peer reviewers are offered the option to be acknowledged in the published Protocol or Review to which they contributed. They may also request a certificate or letter of acknowledgement by contacting the Managing Editor.
4. Staff roles in the peer review process
The Managing Editor has responsibility for managing the peer review process including identifying appropriate peer reviewers, sending out requests, the documents for peer review and collating peer reviewer comments.
The editorial team, consisting of the Managing Editor, the Copy Editor and the Information Specialist, checks the methods, clarity and consistency of the Protocols and Reviews. Each manuscript has an assigned Contact Editor who is responsible for the overall manuscript, methods and clinical aspects. Each manuscript has an assigned Sign-off Editor (a senior member of our editorial staff, e.g. Co-ordinating Editor, Deputy Co-ordinating Editor) who approves the peer review comments before they are sent to the author team and signs off the finalised manuscript for publication. Each manuscript undergoes an extensive technical copy edit by our group’s Copy Editor.
5. Number and expertise of peer reviewers
Cochrane Kidney and Transplant will seek three sets of peer reviewer comments for Protocols and Reviews. The peer reviewers will usually be clinical/topic specialists. If the review deviates from standard methods or uses complex methods, it will also be peer reviewed by a statistician/methodologist.
6. Consumer peer review
Consumers have an important role to play in the development of Cochrane Protocols and Reviews, and it is an expectation that we will seek involvement from consumers, or from other potential stakeholders/users of our Reviews. Consumer involvement ensures that Cochrane Review questions are relevant to people requiring and accessing health care, and that meaningful outcomes and potential harms are considered.
Cochrane Kidney and Transplant currently incorporates the consumer perspective by ensuring our Reviews include all applicable SONG core outcomes, which are developed based on the shared priorities of patients, caregivers, clinicians, researchers, policy makers, and relevant stakeholders. In line with Cochrane’s peer review policy, Cochrane Kidney and Transplant will endeavour to gain the expertise of a consumer reviewer for each Protocol and Review. For more information on the role that consumers have within Cochrane and the support on offer, please visit the Cochrane Consumer Network website.
7. Conflicts of interest
Peer reviewers will be asked to declare any potential conflicts of interest in the peer reviewer checklist. Employment in a speciality relevant to the Cochrane Review should be declared in the interests of transparency, but this does not prevent an individual from being a peer reviewer. People with a direct financial interest in a particular intervention (for example, employees or shareholders of a company that manufactures an intervention or a direct competitor, or holders of patents or trademarks for an intervention) should not be involved in the peer review of that intervention. For more information, please go to Cochrane's conflict of interest policy.
It is sometimes necessary for authors of trials or studies included in a Cochrane Review to be invited to be peer reviewers; for example, when the field is small and it is difficult to find peer reviewers with expertise in the field. This is acceptable as long as at least one other peer reviewer is external to the Cochrane Kidney and Transplant editorial team and independent of any studies included in the review. The fact that a peer reviewer is an author of an included trial must be made clear in the conflict of interest statement, and the authors of the Cochrane Review will be made aware of this when receiving peer review comments.
8. Conflict resolution
If you have any concerns or disagreements concerning the peer review process, please contact the Managing Editor in the first instance who will try to resolve the conflict in conjunction with other members of the Cochrane Kidney and Transplant editorial team. We may request that peer reviewers provide more evidence for their comments, and we may solicit the opinion of other peer reviewers, involve the DTA Editorial team, or invite additional peer reviewers, as appropriate, to help resolve conflict. Note that authors are required to respond to peer reviewers’ comments adequately (see Section 7 "Addressing peer reviewers’ comments" in the Cochrane peer review policy.) If Cochrane Kidney and Transplant is unable to resolve a concern or disagreement, the case may be referred to the Editor in Chief by either the authors or the Cochrane Kidney and Transplant editorial team, using the Cochrane Library appeals process or complaints procedure, as appropriate.
9. Data protection
Cochrane Kidney and Transplant is committed to protecting your personal data. If you agree to act as a peer reviewer for our group, we will create a Cochrane Account in Archie, Cochrane’s central database, in order to communicate with you through our editorial workflow system. If you have not already done so, you will be sent an email asking you to activate your Account, which will enable you to view and update your personal details. We never share personal data with third parties and we only send newsletters to people who have opted in to receive such messages. For more information, please go to https://community.cochrane.org/organizational-info/resources/policies/data-policy.
If you have any queries regarding our peer review procedures, please contact the Managing Editor Fiona Russell.