Reviewer guidelines

Why review for UCL Open: Environment?

Review by academic peers is an essential part of the scholarly publishing and communication process. By sharing their expert opinion, peers evaluate and improve the research of their peers. However, peer review is not a perfect system.

One of the concerns with the traditional closed model of peer review (where reviewers are anonymised to authors) is that reviewers are seldom credited for their voluntary performance. A further dispute is that unscrupulous reviewers can hamper scholarly progress by demanding questionable changes, either intentionally exploiting anonymity or because they are simply unsuitable. Peer review suffers from a lack of transparency, recognition, and accountability.

UCL Open: Environment is different. The journal operates on an open peer review model where the identity of the reviewers and their comments are visible at all times. 

If you are interested in reviewing for the journal and wish to register your interest, please contact the editorial office with your details and subject expertise by emailing

Instructions for reviewers

If invited for review or whether you are interested in reviewing for UCL Open: Environment, you will find further guidance below on how to submit your review. When posting a review and/or comments in the journal, users agree to these terms and conditions set out below.

Reviews should result from an in-depth and thorough evaluation of a research manuscript. Reviews should help readers decide if an article is scientifically sound, meets academic standards and is worth reading in its present form. They can either encompass the entire paper or just a single aspect.

We do not expect reviewers to decide if a manuscript is ‘worthy of publication’. Instead, the expert commentaries expressed at UCL Open: Environment should aim to assist authors and readers, and improve the value of the associated article. It can be very helpful to others to share experiences in reproducing experiments, methodologies, or code.

Reviewers should guide authors and encourage them to further improve their article. Reports should stick to the aims and objectives set out in the journals aims and scope ( and the author guidelines ( Try to structure your review as a list of major points followed by minor points and conclude with an overall impression of the manuscript. Keep in mind that the audience for the review includes both authors and readers.

You can find an example of a previous open peer review report here

Peer review policy

UCL Open: Environment operates an open and transparent peer review process where readers can assess the peer reviewer reports as part of the article’s review history. Articles submitted to the journal are first posted to the preprint server to undergo open peer review before being published officially in the journal after editorial acceptance. 

Important note: all preprint articles are declared as not yet peer reviewed.


UCL Open Environment requires at least two external peer reviews of a submitted article to be made openly available online before an editorial decision for official publication in the journal can be made. As far as possible, assigned editors and invited reviewers will not possess any potential conflicts of interests to the submitted article. However, where this is not possible, in circumstances where specific and required expertise or other reasons that are deemed necessary, any decision to publish may require additional review to maintain fair review practice. The journal Editor may also decide to reject a review after considering any and all conflicts of interest and the reviewer will be informed of this decision. The Editor’s decision is final.

More information about how the journals publication workflow can be found here.


Who can review for UCL Open: Environment?

Reviewers are invited by the Editor based on subject expertise. In addition, as the journal operates open peer review (the names and affiliations of reviewers are published alongside their review reports), authors are also encouraged to help expedite the peer review process by inviting reviewers to review their paper openly. 

As a general guide, peer reviewers should hold expert knowledge of the specific disciplines to which your article relates. For example, it is usual for many peer reviewers to hold a doctorate (PhD/MD/MBBS or equivalent). In subjects or fields where doctorates are less common or reviewers are currently in process of completing one, we recommend these individuals provide via their ORCID profile a demonstrable public record of expertise.

If you are interested in reviewing for the journal and wish to register your interest with the journal Editors, please contact the editorial office with your details and subject expertise by emailing

Reviewers invited by authors are required to have five published records associated with their ORCID to demonstrate that reviewers are active and professional researchers. Any professional or researcher who would like to review a paper but has fewer than five published records associated with an ORCID is advised to contact the editorial office to register their interest in reviewing a paper.


Open Science Peer Review Oath*

UCL Open: Environment expect all reviewers to adhere to the four core principles as outlined here when writing a review.

Principle 1: I will sign my name to my review
Principle 2: I will review with integrity
Principle 3: I will treat the review as a discourse with you; in particular, I will provide constructive criticism
Principle 4: I will be an ambassador for the practice of Open Science


UCL Open: Environment aspires to select and publish, through peer review, the highest-quality environment-related research. To achieve this, the peer review process must be objective, fair and thorough. This peer review policy and commenting code of conduct outlines how peer review and commenting to be conducted. Please note that this review policy is part of the journal’s publishing policies as outlined on the editorial policies web page at

*The Open Science Peer Review Oath was compiled during the AllBio: Open Science and Reproducibility Best Practice Workshop: Aleksic J, Alexa A, Attwood TK et al. An Open Science Peer Review Oath . F1000Research 2015, 3:271 (


Ethical obligations of reviewers

To ensure the highest quality research in UCL Press publications, reviewers are expected to uphold the following when reviewing:

1. Provide clearly written, unbiased feedback in a timely manner on the scholarly and/or scientific merits and value of the work, together with a documented basis for the reviewer’s opinion. Judge the paper on its merits without regard to personal bias, ethnic origin, race, religion, citizenship, language, political or other opinion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, appearance, age, or economic class, seniority, or institutional affiliation of the author(s).
2. Thoroughly address all review criteria provided by the journal.
3. Decline to review manuscripts for which the reviewer lacks sufficient time, is not qualified, or has a conflict of interest with any of the authors, including personal or competitive relationships.
4. Explain and support judgments adequately so that Editors and authors may understand the basis of their comments. Any statement by a reviewer on an observation, derivation or argument that has been previously published should be accompanied by the relevant citation.
5. Provide citations to relevant work by other scientists as appropriate.
6. Alert the Editor to any significant similarity between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper or manuscript submitted concurrently to another journal. Report any plagiarism or the appearance of plagiarism.
7. Never use or disclose unpublished information, arguments or interpretations contained in a manuscript under consideration, except with the consent of the author.
8. Never include personal criticism of the author in reviewing a manuscript


Peer reviewer code of conduct

UCL Open: Environment aims to provide a safe, open, and professional environment for learning and communicating research with integrity, respect, fairness, trustworthiness, and transparency. Open debate and commenting are an important aspect of the scientific endeavour to encourage constructive criticism and high quality discussions of scientific issues that will both enhance understanding and provide new avenues of collaboration within the community.

Reviews and/or comments will be monitored to ensure that they contribute to the scholarly debate. Any reviews and/or comments that appear to be advertising, potentially libellous or legally problematic (including comments revealing any personal and/or sensitive information) will not be published. The Editors of the journal will not accept comments that are offensive, indecent or contain negative comments of a personal, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation or religious character. All comments must be written in good English; a comment may be rejected if it is deemed unintelligible. 

While we welcome open scholarly debate and discussion, we will not tolerate abusive behaviour towards our authors and reviewers via our Comment system or via social media. In extreme cases we will consider contacting the affiliated institution to report the abusive behaviour of individuals.

When posting a review and/or comments in the journal, users agree to these terms and conditions set out here.