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Reviewer Guidelines

Peer review is the process of assessing the relevancy, novelty, scientific rigor, interpretation of findings, and significance of a manuscript by subject matter experts in a field of study or practice. Individual peer reviewers are a critical part of the scientific publication process and extremely important to the Journal of Physical Activity and Health (JPAH) to ensure the highest possible quality of the publication. Although not a perfect process, peer review does contribute to science by helping journal editors and readers identify the highest quality and most important studies, as well as potential cases of scientific misconduct.

JPAH receives more than 350 manuscripts per year to be considered for publication and publishes only a small percentage of these. The peer review process takes on average 8 to 12 weeks. Click here to see a flow chart that depicts the process of peer review used by JPAH.

JPAH uses a double-blind peer review process: the authors do not know the identity of the reviewers and the reviewers do not know the identity of the authors. Despite using a double-blind review process, reviewers can occasionally recognize the origin of the study (e.g., due to specific laboratory procedures or study populations described) and the likely authors. In these instances, if a reviewer feels they cannot provide a fair review or have a clear conflict of interest, the reviewer is expected to decline the review invitation or at least declare a potential conflict of interest to the editors. In most instances, reviewers can provide a fair and helpful review.

General Reviewer Guidelines

Upon receiving a completed manuscript review, comments will be sent to the author(s) from the editorial office. Because reviewer comments will potentially be used by the authors as the basis for revisions, please avoid harsh, abrasive, arrogant, or patronizing statements. Please provide constructive and objective comments on the manuscript. Reviewer comments and assessments should be logical and systematic. Comments targeted specifically for the editor can be written in more direct language.

Please provide general as well as specific comments. Comments and recommendations should be helpful to both the authors and the editors. Provide specific recommendations on how the manuscript could be improved, and when necessary, refer to appropriate studies in the literature. Even if your recommendation is to reject the manuscript, it is still appropriate to provide recommendations on how it could be improved.

Avoid providing extensive grammatical and editing comments. Professional manuscript editors will correct grammatical and usage problems during production if the paper is accepted for publication. However, if grammatical issues interfere with the reading, understanding, and interpretation of the manuscript, please provide specific comments.

Please submit your reviewer report within the specified time limit of 30 days. If your circumstances change and you cannot complete the review in time, please contact the editorial manager (jpah@hkusa.com) as soon as possible. Reviewer anonymity will be preserved, and reviewers are asked not to identify themselves to the authors without the permission of the editor.

The manuscript under review is a confidential document that should not be discussed or shown to others without the permission of the editor.

In the rare situation that you as a reviewer discover a potential conflict of interest in relation to the authors or content of the manuscript you have been invited to review, please contact the editorial manager (jpah@hkusa.com) as soon as possible.

Review Areas of Interest

Study Design and Interpretation

• Does the paper report important and/or unique findings that add to the body of knowledge of physical activity and health?

• Have the main findings or applications been previously published?

• Is the purpose of the study stated clearly and is an adequate justification for the study provided?

• Is the research design sound and appropriate for the stated purpose of the study? Are there any fatal, unfixable flaws in the study design?

• Are the methods and analyses appropriate and sufficiently clear to be repeated by other researchers? Are the conclusions justified and logically consistent with the results presented?

• Are the practical applications of the study clear and concise?

• Are the references to existing studies pertinent and complete?


• Does the manuscript follow the Journal’s publication guidelines?

• Is the manuscript concise, consistent in format, and clearly written? Are the grammar, tone, and use of English at an acceptable standard? Is the written text clear and unambiguous? Without rewriting the manuscript or imposing your own style, identify the text that is verbose or ambiguous. Please identify text that should be expanded or condensed by specific references to sentences or paragraphs as appropriate.

• Are the figures and tables relevant? Is there unnecessary duplication of results between figures, tables, and the text? Are there any results that might be better presented in graphical format? Are all abbreviations defined and explanatory footnotes provided so that each table/figure can stand alone without reference to the text?

• Are the figures and tables properly prepared in accordance with the instructions for the authors?

• Do the title and abstract accurately reflect the contents and findings of the study?

• Are the in-text citations and reference list in compliance with the guidelines of the American Medical Association Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (10th ed.)?

Statistical Considerations

• Have the authors clearly identified the research design and statistical methods?

• Are there any concerns with sampling bias or measurement bias?

• Are the statistical tests appropriate for the data format (i.e., normally-distributed data, continuous, nominal or ordinal structure, etc.) and the research question?

• Is sample size and/or power reported when appropriate? Is the sample size sufficient to 1) adequately answer the research question, 2) estimate reliable and valid measures of association or effect, and 3) make reasonable generalizable conclusions?

• Has the sample variability been reported with standard deviation and uncertainty (or precision) of estimates indicated using confidence intervals?

• Have magnitudes of effects been reported and interpreted with established criteria?

• Are actual p values shown? Indirect indications of statistical significance such as p < .05 or p = NS make it difficult for other researchers undertaking meta-analyses. Results should be reported so that the number of digits is scientifically relevant.

• Are the standard and nonstandard statistical terms, abbreviations, and symbols defined appropriately, and are the details of computer software packages cited?

Ethical Considerations

• Is there any evidence of plagiarism, duplicate submission to another journal, or excessive fragmentation of results to achieve multiple publications of manuscripts? Did the authors indicate appropriate Institutional Review Board approval? Is there any suggestion of unethical practices with experimental procedures involving the care, treatment, or management of human subjects?

Please contact the editors should any ethical concerns during a manuscript review arise.

Returning Reviewer’s Comments

All reviewers are assigned a Manuscript Central user account. Use Manuscript Central to transmit a manuscript review and recommendation to the editors. Please use this tool to provide brief, confidential summary comments to the editor and general and specific comments to both the authors and the editor. Please be as complete as possible with comments, identifying the page, paragraph, and line number that refers to the comment. Comments can be entered directly into Manuscript Central or uploaded as a Microsoft Word document. Finally, please complete all check boxes in Manuscript Central to rate various aspects of the submitted manuscript.