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Peer Review Ethics

Sage’s commitment to ethical peer review   

We are committed to upholding the integrity of the work we publish. We encourage our authors, editors, and reviewers to refer to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) website. COPE has published a set of Guidelines for Peer Reviewers that we recommend reading prior to beginning a review.  

  Video tutorial: Peer review ethics


Your responsibilities as a reviewer

  • Please carefully consider whether you have any potential conflicts of interest relating to the paper before undertaking the review. As an example, you should not be reviewing the paper of anyone you have worked with, taught, and/or published work with in the past. It is important to highlight to the journal editor any conflict of interest that you feel might occur if you review the paper. Please do so as discreetly and as quickly as possible.
  • We ask that you keep all information about any potential ethical concerns related to a paper you are reviewing confidential. As the editor often has more information about a paper and any related concerns, they should always be consulted when you have cause for concern. For this reason, please do not discuss your concerns with anyone other than the journal editor. 
  • The peer review process is confidential. You must not make personal use of unpublished information or communicate the content of manuscripts to others without the prior agreement of the journal. 
  • Please do not contact the authors directly without the permission of the journal.
  • Please be careful not to make judgements about the paper based on personal, financial, intellectual biases or any other considerations than the quality of the research and written presentation of the paper.
  • If you are reviewing for a journal that uses double-anonymized peer review, and come to discover the identity of the author through any means (such as reading a preprint or seeing a paper presented at a conference), please inform the journal editor immediately.
  • Sometimes you may want to involve junior researchers in the review of an article, or a senior colleague may ask you to contribute. Please ensure that you obtain permission from the journal editor prior to completing the review. The supervisor must agree to provide guidance during the review process and approve the final review. Note the names of those who contributed to the review in the ‘Confidential Comments to the Editor’ box when submitting your review. Find out how you can receive recognition for co-reviews via Web of Science Reviewer Recognition
  • As per COPE guidelines, reviewers should not suggest that authors include citations of the reviewer’s work merely to increase their citation count or to enhance the visibility of their work; suggestions must be based on valid academic or technological reasons.
  • The presence of non-positive outcomes should not influence your assessment of the quality of the study.
  • You must keep your affiliation up to date on your reviewer account, so that editors can easily identify if you have a conflict of interest with the authors of a manuscript before inviting you to review the paper.

Common ethical issues to be aware of when reviewing

Sage recommends that you contact the journal editor to discuss the situation without delay if you suspect any of the following problems with any article you are reviewing: 

  • You suspect that the paper has been either published or submitted to another journal.

The author should disclose any prior distribution and/or publication of any portion of the material to the Editor for the Editor’s consideration and ensure that appropriate attribution to the prior distribution and/or publication of the material is included.

  • You suspect that the paper plagiarises the work of others.

Sage takes issues of copyright infringement, plagiarism or other breaches of best practice in publication very seriously. We seek to protect the rights of our authors and we always investigate claims of plagiarism or misuse of published articles. Equally, we seek to protect the reputation of our journals against malpractice.

  • You suspect that there might be problems with the ethics of the research conducted.

It is the responsibility of the authors to disclose any potential Conflicts of Interest as well as any funding bodies that have contributed to facilitating the research. It is also the responsibility of the authors to ensure that they have the necessary permissions for any use of data or results sourced from others. 

See Sage's Publishing Policies page for more on our Conflict of Interest Policy, Funding Acknowledgements policy, and other publishing policies.

Find out more about Sage’s Ethics and Responsibility policies.