Reviewer Guidelines

We are extremely grateful for you taking the time to review for Addiction. These guidelines are to help you with the review process. You may find it helpful to read these guidelines in conjunction with Balster (2017).

Before starting a review

If you can, we ask you to familiarise yourself with our submission guidelines and an editorial setting out our priorities.

Please decline to review the manuscript if you: 
1. have a conflict of interest (e.g. at least one of the authors is a close colleague, a recent co-author, or someone from the same institution). Contact the Associate Editor handling the manuscript or the Editorial Office if you are in doubt. 
2. do not have time to complete your review within the specified time frame.

Suggestions for other potential reviewers are very much welcome.

If you have already reviewed this manuscript for another journal, please tell the Associate Editor or the Editorial Office. You may wish to re-review it or prefer to decline to review it. Either way, we would like to know.

General points after agreeing to conduct a review

Once you have agreed to review a manuscript, you will receive messages and automated reminders through ScholarOne. Please respond as soon as you can to messages or reminders, and make sure you notify the Associate Editor or the Editorial Office if your review is likely to be delayed for any reason.

Please maintain the confidentiality of any manuscript that you are reviewing.

If you are being asked to review a commissioned manuscript, we will have already assessed it as being relevant and of interest to the journal. Therefore, the peer review process is primarily to assess the article for quality of the science and communication, not the importance of the topic.

Confidential comments to the Editor/Associate Editor

If there are aspects of the manuscript on which you do not feel qualified to comment, please mention this in your confidential comments to the Editor.

If you have any concerns about possible ethical or scientific misconduct (e.g. concurrent submissions by the same authors of the same manuscript to other journals or prior publications reporting the same or very similar findings), also mention this to the Editor.

Comments to the authors


There is no fixed length for reviews, but they are generally between a few paragraphs and three pages.

Please number your comments so that it easier for authors to refer to them if they are invited to revise and resubmit.

It is very important to avoid comments or criticisms directed at authors. Instead please refer to ‘the paper’ or ‘the manuscript’ rather than ‘the authors’. Senior Editors will edit out statements likely to be interpreted as ad hominem or offensive.

Please do not indicate whether or not you think the paper should be published in your comments to authors. The Editor will make this decision based on all the reviews received, feedback from the Associate Editor, and his or her assessment in light of the reviews and recommendations received. The reasons for the decision will be stated in the decision letter sent to the corresponding author, and you will receive a copy of this letter.

When suggesting material to be added to any manuscript, bear in mind the word limit for the relevant manuscript category. If you can see ways of shortening the manuscript by removing non-essential information, suggest these to the authors.

Ensure that any ethical issues are discussed (including which body provided ethical oversight of the study).

Addiction has an international readership. If the manuscript will not be of interest to people in more than one country (even following revision), then it will generally receive a low priority.

Specific points to attend to

Sometimes a manuscript may contain major flaws (e.g. of a methodological nature) that mean the paper is unlikely to be published even following extensive revision. If this is likely to be the case, you may prefer to report these flaws in a general way that obviates the need for further detailed comments.

Begin the review with a summary of the main strengths and weaknesses of the paper. Then go through the sections of the paper commenting on the quality as appropriate and suggesting improvements or raising queries or concerns.

Abstracts are particularly important and frequently not well written so we ask that you check that they meet Addiction’s requirements in terms of content and use of headings.

Check that the research question, hypotheses or study aims are clearly and consistently articulated throughout the manuscript and match each other. It is very common for papers to mention findings that do not relate to any specified research questions.

Methodological weaknesses to watch out for include: over-generalisation from the sample or measures; insufficient power; inadequate control; measurement bias or error; illogical argument; dubious assumptions; failure to rule out plausible alternative explanations; incorrect statistical analysis; unwarranted assignment of causality; inadequately or poorly explained data analyses; and extensive verbatim quotations with limited linking text.

We attach higher priority to the following: large, well-controlled treatment trials; major surveys; major theoretical advances; first presentations of data on important new instruments; comprehensive reviews of key areas; discussions of topical policy issues; and historical analyses of major developments in the field.

We attach lower priority to: surveys involving small or parochial samples; descriptive qualitative studies that do not link to theory, policy or practice; and replications of well-established findings or confirmation of common-sense knowledge.

Check that the authors have not discussed or interpreted their findings within the Findings section of the manuscript. Whilst we recognise that journals differ on this point, Addiction authors are requested to leave their interpretations of the data until the Discussion section.

Consider whether or not the Discussion section appropriately and concisely ‘interprets’ the key findings, and also identifies any limitations. The Discussion should not introduce new data, stray beyond the findings, or digress into speculation.

Identify any problems with the write-up (e.g. poor use of English; insufficient engagement with relevant literature; incorrect or vague use of terms; non-adherence to author guidelines; material in the wrong place; excessive length; too many tables or figures).

Make sure that your recommendation to the Editor is consistent with your comments to the authors. For example, do not compliment the paper extensively in your comments to the authors but then recommend reject to the Editor.

After the review is submitted

You will receive the decision letter with the comments of the Senior Editor, Associate Editor and other reviewer(s).

Further reading

Balster, R. L. (2017) Reviewing manuscripts for scientific journals. In Babor, T. F., Stenius, K., Pates, R., Miovský Michal, O’Reilly, J. and Candon, P. (eds) Publishing Addiction Science: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Ubiquity Press (Chapter 13, pp. 245-264).