JCTS | Guidelines for Reviewers

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Journal of Conflict Transformation and Security (JCTS)

Guidelines for Reviewers

We are sincerely grateful to scholars and experts who give their time to peer-review articles submitted to JCTS. Rigorous peer-review is the corner-stone of determining original contributions to the field and sustaining trustworthy academic publishing.

— The JCTS editorial team.

Principles concerning JCTS Volunteer Review Process

Peer review is an essential part of the scholarly publication process. We fully understand that reviewing is often considered an unacknowledged and unrewarded task. We are currently striving to recognize the efforts of our reviewers.

When reviewing for JCTS, you:

  • Will be included in the journal’s annual acknowledgement of our reviewers.
  • Can build your profile on Publons and have your reviewing activity automatically added for participating journals. Publons profiles can also be integrated with ORCID.

*Invitation to Join JCTS Volunteer Reviewer Database

If you are interested in reviewing articles for our journal, please send your contact details, including your ORCID identifier, institutional affiliation, a short CV, and 5-6 keywords in line with your expertise to [email protected]

The editors of JCTS will send you a notification once approved.

Prospective reviewers may also be interested in the Publons Academy, which provides training in how to conduct peer review.

Invitation to Review

Manuscripts submitted to journals are reviewed by at least two experts. Reviewers are asked to evaluate the quality of the manuscript and to provide a recommendation to the editor-in-chief(s) on whether a manuscript can be accepted, requires revisions (minor or major) or should be rejected.

We kindly ask our invited reviewers to:

  • accept or decline any invitations within a week, based on the manuscript title and abstract;
  • suggest alternative reviewers if an invitation must be declined;
  • request an extension in case more time is required to compose a review report, which is normally due within a month;

As part of the assessment, reviewers will be asked:

  • to rate the originality, significance, quality of the presentation, scholarly soundness, interest to the readers, contributions to the field, overall merit and English level of the manuscript;
  • to provide an overall recommendation for the publication of the manuscript;
  • to provide a detailed, constructive review report with guidelines for the author(s).

Potential Conflicts of Interests

We ask reviewers to inform the journal editor(s) if they hold a conflict of interests that may prejudice the review report, either in a positive or negative way. The editorial office will check as far as possible before invitation, however we appreciate the cooperation of reviewers in this matter. Reviewers who are invited to assess a manuscript they previously reviewed for another journal should not consider this as a conflict of interest in itself. In this case, reviewers should feel free to let us know if the manuscript has been improved or not compared to the previous version. Conflict of interest in this specific context is generally defined as having worked or published together, being or having been in a supervisory relationship, and, potential financial gains resulting from the publication of the material in question.

Confidentiality and Anonymity

Reviewers should keep the content of the manuscript, including the abstract, confidential. They are allowed to cite the material without the explicit permission of the author which could be ascertained by contacting the editorial board.

JCTS operates based on the principle of double-blind peer review. Reviewers should be careful not to reveal their identity to the authors, either in their comments or in the references they may suggest for inclusion.

JCTS review reports are considered confidential and will only be disclosed with the explicit permission of the reviewer.

Timely Review Reports

JCTS aims to provide an efficient and high-quality scholarly publishing service to authors and to the scholarly community at large. We ask reviewers to assist by providing review reports in a timely manner, within a calendar month after they agree to review the submitted manuscript. Please contact the editorial office if you require an extension to the review deadline.

Peer-Review and Editorial Procedure

All manuscripts sent for publication in our journal are strictly and thoroughly peer-reviewed by experts (this includes research and review articles, spontaneous submissions, and invited papers). When applicable, the Guest Editor of the journal will perform an initial check of the manuscript’s suitability upon receipt. The Editorial Office will then organize the peer-review process performed by independent experts and collect at least two review reports per manuscript. We ask our authors for adequate revisions (with a second round of peer-review if necessary) before a final decision is made. The final decision is made by the academic editor (the Editor-in-Chief of a journal or the Guest Editor of a Special Issue). Accepted articles are both copy-edited and English-edited.

Classification of the Manuscript

Please classify the following aspects of the manuscript:

  • Originality/Novelty: Is the question original and well defined? Do the results provide an advance in current knowledge?
  • Significance: Are the results interpreted appropriately? Are they significant to the field of expertise? Are all conclusions justified and supported by the results? Are hypotheses and speculations carefully identified as such?
  • Quality of Presentation: Is the article written in an appropriate scholarly format (with the exception of interviews, fieldnotes, and artistic displays)? Are the data and analyses presented according to established scholarly standard?
  • Scholarship: Is the study correctly designed and substantively argued? Are the contents robust enough to draw the conclusions stated?
  • Interest to the Readers: Are the conclusions interesting for the readership of the Journal? Will the paper attract a wide readership, or be of interest only to a limited number of people?
  • Overall Merit: Is there an overall benefit to publishing this work? Does the work provide an advance towards the current knowledge? Do the authors have addressed an important long-standing question with original contributions?
  • English Level: Is the English language appropriate and understandable?

If reviewers become aware of misconduct, fraud, plagiarism or any other unethical behavior related to the manuscript, they should raise these concerns with the in-house editor immediately.

Overall Recommendation

Please provide an overall recommendation for the publication of the manuscript as follows:

  • Accept in Present Form: The paper is accepted without any further changes.
  • Accept after Minor Revisions: The paper is in principle accepted after revision based on the reviewer’s comments. Authors are given five days for minor revisions.
  • Reconsider after Major Revisions: The acceptance of the manuscript would depend on the revisions. The author needs to provide a point by point response or provide a rebuttal if some of the reviewer’s comments cannot be revised. Usually, only one round of major revisions is allowed. Authors will be asked to resubmit the revised paper within ten days and the revised version will be returned to the reviewer for further comments.
  • Reject: The article has serious flaws, makes no original contribution, or the work does not fall within the scope and mandate of JCTS. As such, the paper is rejected with no offer of resubmission to the journal.

Please note that your recommendation is visible only to journal editors, not to the authors.

Review Report

Review reports should contain:

  • A brief summary (one short paragraph) outlining the aim of the paper and its main contributions.
  • Broad comments highlighting areas of strength and weakness. These comments should be specific enough for authors to be able to respond if need be.
  • Specific comments referring to line numbers, tables or figures. Reviewers need not comment on formatting issues that do not obscure the meaning of the paper, as these will be addressed by editors.

Reviewers must not recommend citation of work by themselves or close colleagues when it is not clearly necessary to improve the quality of the manuscript under review.

For further guidance about writing a critical review, please refer to the following documents:

  1. COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Committee on Publication Ethics. Available online.
  2. Hames, I. Peer Review and Manuscript Management in Scientific Journals: Guidelines for Good Practice. Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford, UK, 2007.
  3. Writing a journal article review. Australian National University: Canberra, Australia, 2010. Available online.
  4. Golash-Boza, T. How to write a peer review for an academic journal: Six steps from start to finish. Available online.

Guidelines for Reviewers

When reviewing submitted manuscripts, please consider the following and guide the editorial board accordingly:

  • The importance and soundness of the proposed hypotheses;
  • The suitability and feasibility of the methodology for the proposed analysis;
  • Whether there is sufficient addressing of the relevant academic literature and fieldwork/policy reports;
  • The flow of the manuscript and whether the entire body serves the purposes stated at the introduction and the abstract;
  • The originality of the contributions made by the author to their chosen field of expertise;
  • Contradictory findings, gaps, confusing or ambiguous statements without scholarly merit, over-generalizations

Guidelines for the Collaborative Peer Review Process

The collaborative Peer Review Process utilized by the JCTS consists of two phases:

  1. Reviewers assess the manuscript independently, finish and file the review report form.
  2. Before authors complete revisions, author could raise queries to reviewers if they do not understand or disagree with some of comments. Reviewers do not have to reply to authors though they are expected to share their views with the editors for a final decision.

The JCTS Editorial Process

MDPI operates a rigorous peer-review process. In most cases this is a single-blind assessment with at least two independent reviewers, followed by a final acceptance/rejection decision by the Editor-in-Chief, or another academic editor approved by the Editor-in-Chief. The Editor-in-Chief is responsible for the academic quality of the publication process, including acceptance decisions, approval of Guest Editors and special issue topics, and new Editorial Board members.

A summary of the editorial process is given in the flowchart below. The following provides notes on each step.


Immediately after submission, this check is initially carried out by the managing editor to assess:

  • Suitability of the manuscript to the journal/section/special issue;
  • Qualification and background of authors;
  • Reject obviously poor manuscripts.

The Academic Editor, i.e., the Editor-in-Chief in the case of regular submissions, or the Guest Editor in the case of Special Issue submissions, or an Editorial Board Member in case of a conflict of interest, will be notified of the submission and invited to check and recommend reviewers.


The peer-review process is single-blind for most journals, meaning that the author does not know the identity of the reviewer, but the reviewer knows the identity of the author. JTCS operates on the basis of double-blind peer review.

At least two review reports are collected for each submitted article. Suggestions of reviewers can be made by the academic editor during pre-check. Alternatively, JCTS editorial staff will use qualified Advisory Board Members, qualified reviewers from our database, or new reviewers identified by related work.

The following checks are applied to all reviewers:

  • That they hold no conflicts of interest with the authors, including if they have published together in the last five years;
  • That they hold a PhD or relevant field expertise of at least 10 years;
  • They must have recent publications in the field of the submitted paper;
  • They have not recently been invited to review a manuscript for JCTS during the past 12 months.

To assist academic editors, JCTS editors handle all communication with reviewers, authors, and when applicable, the external editor.

Academic Editors can check the status of manuscripts and the identity of reviewers at any time. For the review of a revised manuscript, reviewers are asked to provide their report within one calendar months. In both cases, extensions can be granted on request.

A paper can only be accepted for publication by an academic editor. Authors cannot recommend potential reviewers.

Editorial Decisions

Acceptance decisions on manuscripts, after peer review, are made by either the Editor-in-Chief(s), or a Guest Editor.

When making an editorial decision, the editor(s) checks the following:

  • The suitability of selected reviewers;
  • Adequacy of reviewer comments and author response;
  • Overall quality and contributions of the paper.

The editor(s) can select from the following options of accept, reject, ask author for revision (minor or major), or, ask for an additional/third reviewer.

If there is any suspicion that a paper may contain plagiarism, the editorial office will check using the industry-standard appropriate software.

Although reviewers will make learned recommendations, Editors-in-Chief withhold the right to disagree with their views and seek a second round of reviews when deemed necessary.

Editorial independence is extremely important and no paper is published without the agreement of the editors and at least one expert reviewer clearly accepting the work in question-based on its merits.

JCTS staff or editorial board members (including Editors-in-Chief) cannot be involved in the processing their own academic work with the exceptions of book reviews, field notes, and interviews/insight notes. Their submissions are assigned to at least two independent outside reviewers. Decisions are made by other editorial board members who do not have a conflict of interest with the author.


In cases where only minor revisions are recommended, the author is usually requested to revise the paper before referring back to the external editor. Articles may or may not be sent to reviewers after author revision, depending on whether the reviewer requested to see the revised version and the wishes of the Academic editor. JCTS allows a maximum of two rounds of major revision per manuscript.


JCTS carries out production on all manuscripts, including language editing, copy editing and conversions. Language editing is carried out by professional English editing staff members. In the small number of cases where extensive editing or formatting is required, the authors are also free to use other English editing services, or consult a native English-speaking colleague—the latter being our preferred option.

Publication Ethics

JCTS follows Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing. Accordingly, our journal follows the prescribed procedures for dealing with potentially unethical behaviour by authors, reviewers or guest editors.

Ethical issues raised by readers of the journal will be investigated by the editorial office following procedures guided by these principles. For disputes around authorship, data ownership, author misconduct, etc., where necessary we will refer to external organizations such as a university ethics committee. Authors are asked to respond to any substantiated allegations made against them without delay.

Similarly, in order to manage authorship disputes we follow the guidelines provided by How to spot authorship problems [PDF]. In such cases, we require an authoritative statement from the authors’ institution(s) about who qualifies for authorship.