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Reviewer guidelines

Reviewers duties

The reviewers’ task is to objectively analyse the scientific methods, the interpretation of the results and the validity of the discussion. Reviewers should indicate if the article should be accepted, accepted pending revision, rejected or rejected with invitation to resubmit based on their analysis of the article and complying with the scope of the journal. It is the task of the Editor to integrate information given by the reviewers and his/her own opinion before making the editorial decision. The Editor’s decision will not always match the opinion of the reviewers, and reviewers are therefore asked not to make any statements regarding their decision recommendations in the comments to the authors. The recommendation should only be made in the confidential comments to the Editor.

Points to consider when reviewing a manuscript

1. It is good practice to state at the beginning of the review that you will comment particularly on one or another aspect of the paper that falls under your expertise area. Reviewers are not expected to be ubiquitous and to be experts in all aspects of the paper. If you are not sure why you were asked to review a paper, ask the Editor who invited you to review. Editors prefer that you contact them with questions, rather than you do not respond or complete the review.

2. Your major task is to spot potential flaws like the ones listed below:

  • Conclusions that are contradicted by the author’s own statistical or qualitative evidence
  • Experiments that are based on a discredited method
  • Ignoring a process/parameter that is known to have a strong influence on the area under study
  • Too small sample population in analytical papers, insufficient use of control experiments, statistically non-significant variations etc.
  • Insufficient data to conclude
  • Data that are merely confirmatory and add little, if anything, to the current understanding

It is highly appreciated if you not only point out the flaws but also come up with solutions/experiments that will circumvent them. This is of great help both for the Editor (in his/her decision-making process) and for the authors.

3. Check if the title is concise, appealing and does not overstate the results described in the manuscript.

4. Check if the abstract is clear, factual and does not state or otherwise imply conclusions that are not supported by the experimental findings.

5. Check if the materials and methods section presents sufficient details, either directly or by reference to published procedures. The work should be reproducible by others. Pay special attention to the growth conditions (medium, day/light time and temperature, lamps used and photon flux density…). The statistical methods employed should be clear and the sample population taken into account.
Novel DNA sequences must be deposited in GenBank and accession numbers provided. Results from “omics” should be made available in a public repository.

6. Check if the results are clearly and concisely written without false interpretations. The results should be readable without help of the figures. Indicate the lack of imprecision in the result and indicate when more factual data should be introduced (%, -fold, NOT fairly, slightly, statistically, etc.).

7. Check that the discussion is not merely a repetition of the results but combines the results with current knowledge on the topic. Speculation is allowed, but normally not in several consecutive steps (in other words, speculation based on speculation should be avoided).

8. Evaluate the usage of English but do not necessarily spend time correcting it. Manuscripts that are difficult to read but interesting should be accepted pending revision and authors should be asked to send their articles for English editing. If only few sentences are difficult to read, point it out for the authors to adjust it. The Editorial Office also goes through the text before publication to detect occasional grammatical or spelling mistakes.

9. Evaluate the readability of the figures and whether they are appropriately presented. The Editorial Office will check resolution and format as well as their coherence. Therefore, do not spend too much time on the details.

10. Evaluate the proper use of the available literature. Are there enough citations at the right places? Do not spend time on checking the formatting of citations and references, as the Editorial Office will do this.

Possible decision recommendations

Physiologia Plantarum is an international journal committed to publishing the best full-length original research papers that advance our understanding of primary mechanisms of plant development, growth and productivity as well as plant interactions with the biotic and abiotic environment. All organizational levels of experimental plant biology – from molecular and cell biology, biochemistry and biophysics to ecophysiology and global change biology – fall within the scope of the journal. In addition, the journal accepts submissions of minireviews, with the aim of providing a forum for discussion of recent research and technical advances.

Physiologia Plantarum is one of the leading international journals in plant biology, annually attracting around 10 000 citations and publishing many papers that make significant contributions and have very long citation half-lives (>10 years). The journal’s impact factor is also steadily increasing and in order to sustain this trend and to enhance the high quality of the journal, Physiologia Plantarum will only accept manuscripts that advance our functional understanding of plant processes. Manuscripts that are descriptive, have only an applied aim or are rated as “repetition of known results” will be rejected. When making your decision recommendation you should consider the following:

  1. Accept: For manuscripts presenting either novel findings that uncover new biological meaning and/or significance of the process being studied or use novel and useful approaches that enable scientific progress.
  2. Accept pending revision: For papers fulfilling the requirements cited above but are poorly presented in term of English usage and/or presentation of the data.
  3. Reject with invitation to resubmit: For manuscripts with exciting scientific merit but requiring substantial revision and/or additional data.
  4. Reject: Physiologia Plantarum does not publish manuscripts that document well-known processes in a species for which this process has not yet been documented, unless significant species-specific differences of biological importance are documented.

Manuscripts that only report the purification of proteins, biochemical analysis of an enzyme, the cloning of genes, isolation of a new mutant, or microarray/Affymetrix data without including data and a discussion of functional aspects that show the biological significance of the result(s).


  1. Please note that your review must be submitted within 14 days once you have accepted the assignment. If your review is submitted within 10 days, you are entitled to an additional free colour image in a subsequent publication in Physiologia Plantarum.
  2. In your comments to the authors, you should indicate in a friendly and constructive way all flaws you have noted in the manuscript (see section “Points to consider when reviewing a manuscript”). The comments should not contain your decision recommendation.
  3. Number your comments and be clear about which points are absolutely critical if the paper is given an opportunity for revision. Suggest how the authors can address any concerns raised. Specific recommendations for how to correct flaws are very welcome by Editors and useful to authors. Remember, it is especially important that your comments match your recommendation. If you recommend that the paper be rejected, your comments should clearly state what the problems are and they should not be excessively positive or seem to contradict your recommendation.
  4. In your letter to the Editor, you should express your decision recommendation and the rationale behind it. Reviewers are asked not to make any statements regarding their manuscript decision recommendations in the comments to the authors. The recommendation should only be made in the confidential comments to the editor.
  5. You will be asked if you are willing to be part of the review process if another round of review is necessary for the manuscript (valid if the manuscript is rejected with encouragement to resubmit or accepted pending revision). We greatly appreciate your help as a reviewer, accepting this task drastically speeds up the editorial time.
  6. If you need more information on how to write a review report, visit