How to Conduct a Review

Before You Begin

Before you accept or decline an invitation to review, consider the following questions:

  • Does the article match your area of expertise? Only accept if you feel you can provide a high-quality review.
  • Do you have a potential conflict of interest? Disclose this to the editor when you respond.
  • Do you have time? Reviewing can be a lot of work (at least one hour) – before you commit, make sure you can meet the deadline.
  • Do you need to find out more about reviewing and the peer review process? If so, email the editor at

Respond to the invitation as soon as you can (even if it is to decline) – a delay in your decision slows down the review process and means more waiting for the author. If you do decline the invitation, it would be helpful if you could provide suggestions for alternative reviewers.

Managing Your Review

Confidential material

If you accept, you must treat the materials you receive as confidential documents. This means you can’t share them with anyone without prior authorization from the editor. Since peer review is confidential, you also must not share information about the review with anyone without permission from the editors and authors.

How to access your review

Your review will be managed via the JIS submission system.

To access your review, click on the link in the invitation email which will bring you to the submission/reviewing system. If you forgot your password, please click the link in “Forgot your password?” section of the page shown by the above URL and insert your email (username) in the input form shown.

When you sit down to write the review, make sure you familiarize yourself with JIS submission guidelines.

First read the article. You might consider spot checking major issues by choosing which section to read first. Below we offer some tips about handling specific parts of the paper.


If the manuscript you are reviewing is reporting an experiment/empirical findings, check the methods section first. The following cases are considered major flaws and should be flagged:

  • Unsound methodology
  • Discredited method
  • Missing processes known to be influential on the area of reported research
  • A conclusion drawn in contradiction to the statistical or qualitative evidence reported in the manuscript

For analytical papers examine the sampling report, which is mandated in time-dependent studies. For qualitative research make sure that a systematic data analysis is presented and sufficient descriptive elements with relevant quotes from interviews are listed in addition to the author’s narrative.

Research data

Once you are satisfied that the methodology is sufficiently robust, examine any data in the form of figures, tables, or images. Critical issues in research data, which are considered to be major flaws can be related to insufficient data points, statistically non-significant variations, and unclear data tables.

Ethical considerations

Experiments including human subjects or animal data should properly be documented. Most journals require ethical approval by the author’s host organization (e.g., Institutional Research Board).


If you don’t spot any major flaws, take a break from the manuscript, giving you time to think. Consider the article from your own perspective. When you sit down to write the review, again make sure you familiarize yourself with any journal’s review criteria.

Structuring Your Review

Your review will help the editor decide whether or not to publish the article. It will also aid the author and allow them to improve their manuscript. Giving your overall opinion and general observations of the article is essential. Your comments should be courteous and constructive, and should not include any ad hominem remarks or personal details including your name.

Providing insight into any deficiencies is important. You should explain and support your judgement 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 and evidence.


JIS includes a brief questionnaire on how to structure your feedback. Reviewers are asked to consider the following criteria:

  • Significance Is the manuscript significant to the field of international students?
  • Review of Literature: Does the manuscript have an adequate literature review?
  • Research Design: Does the manuscript reflect appropriate design and methodology?Are conclusions based on the results?
  • Style: Is the manuscript clear, logical, and concise? Does the manuscript follow APA publication guidelines?


Reviewers make one of the following recommendations along with a written report that explains their recommendation:

Recommendation Report
Reject: You believe the manuscript is unacceptable for publication in the Journal. Explain your reasoning why the manuscript is unacceptable in your report.
Resubmit after revisions:  You believe the manuscript has potential for publication but must be revised before publication can be considered. Explain the revisions that are required with an explanation of why they are necessary. Indicate if you would be willing to review the revised manuscript
Accept with minor revisions: You believe the manuscript should proceed to the next stage of the editorial process with minor revision. Explain specific edits that should be made to proceed to the next stage of the editorial process.
Accept: You believe the manuscript should proceed to the next stage of the editorial process without any edits. Explain why you believe no edits are required to the manuscript.

We ask reviewers to please follow the guidelines below when reviewing assigned manuscripts:

  • Give specific comments and suggestions, including about layout and format, title, abstract, introduction, graphical abstracts and/or highlights, method, statistical errors, results, conclusion/discussion, language and references.
  • If you suspect plagiarism, fraud or have other ethical concerns, raise your suspicions with the editor, providing as much detail as possible. Visit Elsevier’s ethics site or the COPE guidelines for more information.
  • According to COPE guidelines, reviewers must treat any manuscripts they are asked to review as confidential documents. Since peer review is confidential, they must not share the review or information about the review with anyone without the agreement of the editors and authors involved. This applies both during and after the publication process.
  • Any suggestion that the author includes citations to reviewers’ (or their associates’) work must be for genuine scientific reasons and not with the intention of increasing reviewers’ citation counts or enhancing the visibility of reviewers’ work (or that of their associates).
  • We ask reviewers to not only form a judgment about the suitability of the manuscript for the journal but also evaluate the manuscript from their own position as critical readers of the field’s published work. While such judgment is critical to maintaining quality, we further ask that reviews be instructive and generative in ways that also define quality in terms of inclusiveness, equity, and diversity of ideas and methods, scholars and contexts from which they all come.

Once you are ready to submit your report, follow the instructions in the email. There will be the opportunity to direct separate comments to both the editor and author.

Final Decision

The editor-in-chief or associate editor ultimately decides whether to accept or reject the article. The editor will weigh all views and may call for another opinion or ask the author for a revised paper before making a decision. The submission system provides reviewers with a notification of the final decision if the journal has opted in to this function.

After Your Review

Even after finalizing your review, you must treat the article and any linked files or data as confidential documents. This means you must not share them or information about the review with anyone without prior authorization from the editor.

Finally, we take the opportunity to thank you sincerely on behalf of the journal, editors and author(s) for the time you have taken to give your valuable input to the article.

Source: Adapted from “How to Review