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Clinical Case Reports

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Cover image for Vol. 5 Issue 10

Editor-in-Chief: Dr Charles Young

Online ISSN: 2050-0904

Peer Review Guidance

Why do peer review?

Peer review:

  • Helps authors improve the quality of their publications and therefore the quality of the scientific record.
  • Helps editors decide how submissions may be improved and whether or not to publish.
  • Helps reviewers stay current in their areas of specialist interest and fulfil a crucial role in the scientific process.

As with publishing in general, peer review is an exercise in effective communication. At Clinical Case Reports we rely on peer reviewers to provide clear, unbiased, rapid, and respectful comments to our authors and editorial team. As editors we aim to relay comments to authors accurately, rapidly, and in a way that encourages them to improve their submission where this is necessary. We rely on authors to respond to all reviewer and editor comments respectfully, rapidly, to make changes to their submission where they feel necessary to improve its quality, and to justify their rationale for not making changes where appropriate.

As a peer reviewer if you feel unable to provide a review requested by the editorial team due to a conflict of interest, scheduling problems, or because the review is outside your area of experience please let us know as soon as possible. The Editor-in-Chief has complete editorial independence and accepts responsibility for the final decision on whether or not to publish any Clinical Case Reports submission.

How to peer review for Clinical Case Reports

When you review a submission for Clinical Case Reports please remember our mission “…is to use clinical case reports to disseminate best clinical practice, to examine important common as well as uncommon clinical scenarios, and to illustrate and inform the use of important clinical guidelines and systematic reviews.”

With this mission in mind, the 7 key decisions we need your advice on are:

  1. Is the report well written? [Is it easily understandable and does it make sense?]
  2. Is the report important? [Does it describe an important common or uncommon clinical situation?]
  3. Is the teaching point practical? [Does it describe a process or intervention that others could reasonably use if they wanted to?]
  4. Is the teaching point generalisable? [Does it describe a situation, process, or intervention which may be replicated in other clinical settings?]
  5. Does the report include a Key Clinical Message? [This should succinctly summarise the one take-home message the authors would like readers to remember after reading their report. The entire report should be built around this clinical message.]
  6. Is the correct international standard of units (SI units) used throughout the report? [Does it correctly use SI units for all measurements? Note: All direct submissions must use SI units for measurements. If the report is a transfer from a support journal, the author may follow the style of the original journal and necessary changes will be made during typesetting.]
  7. Should we publish the report? [This is your overview taking into account decisions 1 – 5 above.]

The following sections contain a series of questions which help add detail to these 6 key decisions. You don’t need to answer all of the questions for every report, but the more detail you can provide to support your 6 key decisions the easier it will be for authors to respond and where necessary improve their submission, and for the editorial team to make a decision about whether to publish.

Author comments (These comments will be given directly to the authors)

  1. Does the title accurately reflect the case?
  2. Does the case involve an important area of health?
  3. Does the case illustrate the use of an important clinical guideline or systematic review? If it does, do the authors specify the guideline / review and which part of it the case report relates to?
  4. Does the case report present a clear and clinically useful message?
  5. Is the case report well written in terms of clarity, style, and use of English?
  6. Does the report have a logical construction (would it make sense as a telephone referral to a colleague)?
  7. Are the patient’s history, clinical examination plus findings, and investigations plus results sufficiently detailed to explain the case but without including extraneous information (if it’s not relevant to the main message why has it been included)?
  8. Are relevant details of differential diagnosis, treatment plan, and follow-up included?
  9. Is there a clear and definite outcome for the case, or are you left thinking “But what happened in the end?”.
  10. Does the discussion section explain the case in the context of published information?
  11. Do the conclusions accurately and clearly explain the main clinical message?
  12. Is the length of the report OK (too long or short)?
  13. Are there any omissions in the content?
  14. Are the figures / images of good quality and relevant to the clinical message?
  15. Are you clear about the contribution each author made to the case management and case report submission?
  16. Are you clear about any potential conflicts of interests any of the authors may have?
  17. Are the references appropriate and current?

Editor comments (We intend not to pass these comments to the authors without further discussion with you)

We would strongly prefer to share all your comments with the authors, as we know this leads to a more open and honest academic dialogue, and to better case reports. However, we understand that on rare occasions there may be issues which reviewers feel should only be discussed with the editorial team and not with the authors in the first instance. We will endeavor to ensure that any comments you write in this space are not seen by the authors. Please always feel free to email or call the Clinical Case Reports editorial team to discuss any issues about case reports about which you are unsure or concerned.

CCR adheres to COPE’s Guidance for Editors on Research, Audit and Service Evaluations

Reviewers are encouraged to comment on:
• Ethical questions (e.g. protection of patients/animals, evidence of adherence to appropriate standards)
• Possible research misconduct (e.g. data fabrication)
• Possible publication misconduct (e.g. redundant publication, plagiarism)

Overall recommendation (These comments will be given directly to the authors)


Revision requested. Please specify details of what needs changing.

Revision requested - English Language. Please specify details of what needs changing.

Reject. Please specify the main reasons for this.

And finally….. For further reading on peer review, please see:

Hames I (2007).Peer review and Manuscript Management in Scientific Journals. 1st Edition. Blackwell Publishing Ltd: Oxford. (

The most important point in all of the information provided here is if you are unsure about any aspect of peer review, please ask any member of the Clinical Case Report’s editorial team and we will be happy to help! Email: