Reviewer Guidelines

General Information for Reviewers

STEM CELLS uses an anonymous, single-blind peer-review process. Manuscripts sent for peer review are reviewed by experts in the subject area before being sent to a lead reviewer for an editorial recommendation. The reviews and recommendation are then sent to the Editor-in-Chief who makes the final decision regarding publication.

Without reviewers it would be impossible for STEM CELLS to publish timely, high-quality manuscripts. Through their valuable contributions, reviewers enable the publication of only the best, cutting-edge studies, thereby advancing the science and the field. Reviewer contributions are, therefore, greatly appreciated. It is our hope that the general instructions that follow will assist reviewers in their efforts to provide the best review possible, but reviewers should not hesitate to contact the editorial office for additional assistance during the review process.
For more information on the peer-review process, please refer to Wiley Author Services at

Conduct Policy

As the first journal devoted to the fast-paced area of stem cells and regenerative medicine, STEM CELLS remains in the top tier of peer-reviewed monthly journals for this discipline. This mission requires ongoing, scrupulous attention to the quality and integrity of the Journal’s publications, and irreproachable conduct on the part of its authors, reviewers, and editors. In pursuit of this goal, STEM CELLS has adopted a Conduct Policy that reflects and supports the Journal’s unwavering commitment to the quality and integrity of work it publishes.

The Conduct Policy outlines the standards of professional behavior expected of authors, reviewers, and editors, and addresses the Journal’s policy for handling potential instances of misconduct.

STEM CELLS is a member of, and subscribes to the principles of, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)

For any questions or concerns regarding the Conduct Policy, please contact the editorial office for STEM CELLS (

Disclosures and Recusal

Reviewers are asked to disclose financial interests or relationships when accepting a review assignment. Reviewers are required to abide by the Conduct Policy and therefore should be familiar with the Journal’s policy regarding conflicts of interest and should be prepared to recuse themselves from any situation that would potentially place them in violation of that policy.

In addition to knowing when to recuse themselves from a review, editors and reviewers should also keep in mind that all information submitted for review purposes is confidential in nature and should be treated as such.

Recusal of Reviewers

In order to provide authors with a fair and unbiased review process, reviewers are required to recuse themselves from the review of a manuscript when faced with a potential conflict of interest. Examples of situations that would require recusal on behalf of an editor or reviewer include but are not limited to:

  • An editor or reviewer is the spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, sibling, or other family member of an author on the manuscript in review.
  • An editor or reviewer is involved in research collaboration with an author on the manuscript in review.
  • An editor or reviewer is under the employ of, or otherwise works at, the same institution as an author on the manuscript in review.
  • An editor or reviewer has a strong intellectual bias either for or against the position taken by the author.
  • An editor or reviewer has a financial interest in an agent or device relevant to the study, or has a financial relationship with a commercial sponsor of the study in question.
  • In addition to self-recusal, editors and reviewers are also required to recuse themselves from the review of a manuscript when requested to do so by the Editor-in-Chief.

Questions regarding the recusal policy may be directed to

Review Confidentiality

As manuscripts under review are confidential documents belonging to the authors, treat all information assessed during a review as strictly confidential. By agreeing to review, the reviewer is agreeing not to disclose outside of the review parameters any information relating to the manuscript under review.

Should a reviewer wish to be assisted in their review by an appropriately qualified colleague, such requests should be addressed to the editor via the editorial office before any reviewing begins.

Reviewer Responsibilities

Reviewers should:

  • Be aware of the Journal’s scope, audience, and policies. STEM CELLS is dedicated to publishing original articles and concise reviews describing basic laboratory investigations of stem cells and the translation of their clinical aspects of characterization and manipulation from the bench to patient care.
  • Be knowledgeable and qualified in regard to the subject matter that is to be reviewed.
  • Be able to return a constructive, relevant, and unbiased review.
  • Be able to return a review in a timely manner. (If extenuating circumstances prevent a reviewer from returning a review within the requested timeframe, the reviewer should alert the editorial office as soon as possible).
  • Exercise tact and courtesy when making critiques.
  • Cite specific pages, paragraphs, or lines in their comments so that the items in question can be easily found.

Reviewers should not:

  • Agree to review a manuscript if there is an actual or perceived conflict of interest (all potential conflicts should be disclosed to the editorial office before agreeing to review a manuscript or as soon as the potential conflict has been discovered). Conflicts that may hinder a fair and unbiased review include, but are not necessarily limited to, those of a financial, institutional, philosophical, or personal nature.
  • Agree to review any manuscript for which they will not be able to provide a fair, impartial review.
  • Agree to review a manuscript if they anticipate not being able to return their comments in a timely manner.
  • Disclose any identifiable information about themselves in their review (the peer review process is anonymous).
  • Allude to either rejection or publication in their comments.
  • Attempt to contact authors to discuss a manuscript.
  • Reveal, cite, or otherwise disclose information about a manuscript prior to publication.
  • Provide specific comments on minor errors regarding grammar, spelling, or style (these elements will be addressed at the copy-editing stage prior to publication).
  • Engage the review assistance of another appropriately qualified colleague without first obtaining approval from the Editor.

Questions reviewers should ask themselves when reviewing:

  • Is the manuscript topic appropriate for the Journal?
  • Is the manuscript novel? Will it have significant impact?
  • Is the study’s objective clearly stated?
  • Does the manuscript’s title appropriately reflect the study?
  • Does it appear that the most appropriate materials and methods were used?
  • Do the methods appear to be scientifically sound?
  • Do the conclusions support the data?
  • Does the study lend itself to producing replicable results?
  • Are there any perceived conflicts of interest or other potential ethical issues regarding the study?
  • If information presented in the manuscript is new, is it properly introduced and described?
  • Does the manuscript include relevant and sufficient references?
  • Does the manuscript use standard measurements and terminology?
  • If statistical tests are included, are they appropriate to the study and well-described?
  • Is there any question of violation of the Journal’s principles for research involving animals and/or human beings?
  • Does the manuscript include figures and/or tables? If so, do the figures/tables add to the manuscript or is the information illustrated redundant?
  • Are the figures, tables, and legends clear and readable? Do the legends correlate to the appropriate figures/tables? Are there any concerns that make the reviewer question the suitability of the manuscript for publication? (e.g., plagiarism, duplicate publication, ghostwriting, etc.)
  • Finally, are there any other concerns not listed above that call into question the manuscript’s suitability for publication (e.g., plagiarism, duplicate publication, ghostwriting, etc.)?

Reviewer Recommendations

After careful consideration of the manuscript, the reviewer should provide one of the following recommendations to the Editor regarding the manuscript’s suitability for publication:

  • Accept with Major Revision – for manuscripts that have moderate to substantial flaws that could potentially be addressed through major revisions. Acceptance is conditional upon modifications by the author.
  • Accept with Minor Revision – for manuscripts that have minor flaws that could potentially be addressed through minor revisions. Acceptance is conditional upon modifications by the author.
  • Accept without Revision – for manuscripts that are scientifically and editorially sound and acceptable as submitted. To be accepted without revisions, manuscripts should contain no flaws or only very minor flaws (errors in style, punctuation, spelling, etc., which can be appropriately addressed through copy-editing).

Confidential Comments for the Editors

In the field labeled “Confidential Comments to the Lead Reviewer” the reviewer should state their reasoning for the recommendation provided. Comments should be clear, helpful, and relevant and summarize the reviewer’s opinion on the manuscript’s strengths and/or weaknesses. Comments for the editors are not shared with the authors, so be sure that any critiques that should be addressed in a revision are made directly to the authors.

Any concerns related to authorship, possible conflict of interest, figure authenticity, or any other matter that could potentially constitute a breach of ethics and/or call into question the integrity of the manuscript, should be mentioned here.

Comments for the Authors

Comments entered in the field labeled “Comments for the Authors” will be included in the decision letter and thus made available to the authors. The reviewer should provide the author with clear, concise, and constructive feedback on the manuscript’s strengths and/or weaknesses. If additional information is needed to strengthen or validate claims or conclusions, the reviewer should endeavor to explain, in specific detail, what additional information should be provided in order to guide the authors toward an acceptable revision. It is especially helpful to include page numbers, paragraphs, line numbering, figure labels, etc. when critiquing specific items.

Reviewers should keep in mind that the most helpful reviews explain what is outstanding, what the fatal flaw is, or what specific changes could be made to move the manuscript toward a positive decision.

While reviewers are encouraged to plainly state their opinions and critiques, comments should refrain from harsh, unnecessary criticism and otherwise inappropriate language. Reviewers should also avoid alluding to either publication or rejection in their comments to the author. The Journal reserves the right to remove comments that are deemed inappropriate or those that may otherwise hinder a constructive review.

Manuscript Score Card

In addition to review comments and an overall recommendation, reviewers are asked to complete a manuscript score card. The score card provides a place for reviewers to rate the manuscript with grades from substandard to outstanding based on the following criteria: significance of research, originality of work, accuracy of experimental design, statistical data, relevance of discussion, soundness of conclusions/interpretations, and clarity of writing. These ratings are not made available to authors as this information is used for review and editorial decision-making purposes alone.

An example of the manuscript score card is shown below:






Significance of Research


Originality of Work


Accuracy of Experimental Design


Statistical Data


Relevance of Discussion


Soundness of Conclusions/Interpretations


Clarity of Writing


Specific Information for Reviewers

Manuscript Types

Original Research Articles

Original Research Articles should include: an abstract; an informative introduction; a clearly stated materials and methods section; a succinct presentation of results; and a discussion that places the findings in context and examines the implications for science, clinical, and translational medicine disease management. Total word count (excluding the abstract, references, and text for figures and tables) should not exceed 5,000 words. Abstracts, which are limited to a maximum of 250 words, should clearly state the manuscript’s primary objective, discuss the implications of the work, and summarize any conclusions. Total number of figures and tables should not exceed seven. A CONSORT diagram is required for all Randomized and Phase III trials (the diagram does not count toward the seven figure and table limit).

Concise Review Articles

Concise Review Articles document significant advances made through novel technology developments. Total word count (excluding abstract, references and text for figures and tables) should not exceed 4,000 words. Abstracts should not exceed 250 words and clearly state the manuscript’s primary objective, discuss the implications of the work, and summarize any conclusions. Total number of figures and tables should not exceed seven and there should be no more than 100 references.

Letters to the Editor:

Letters to the Editor may respond to material in published papers, or they may raise new issues. Letters should be no more than 500 words (excluding abstract, tables, figures, legends and references), and one figure and/or table is allowed. Authors of papers referenced in Letters to the Editor are given the opportunity to respond. Both the letter and the response are subject to peer review.

Brief Reports

Brief Reports should be no more than 1,200 words (excluding abstract, tables, figures, legends and references), and a maximum total of four figures and/or tables combined.


  • Figures should open properly, be clear, readable, and add value to the manuscript.
  • Figures must be titled and cited in numerical order in the text using Arabic numbers.
  • Figure legends should be concise, well-labeled, and correlate to the appropriate figures.
  • Figures and tables should not exceed the given limits (combining figure panels is allowed, i.e. 1a, 1b, 1c, etc.).
  • Tables should be clear and use appropriate labels, terminology, and standard units of measurement.

Supplemental Information

All supplemental information is subject to peer review. Supplemental information will not be included in the print version of the article, but will be referenced in the text and hosted online. Supplemental files may be submitted in a variety of formats, but all content should be publication-ready as these files are not copy-edited prior to online posting.

Critical information or figures required for the interpretation, understanding, and evaluation of the research must be included in the manuscript, not submitted as supplemental data.

Reviewers should use the same strict criteria to assess supplemental material as they would for information and figures included in the text document (i.e. figures should open properly, be clear, readable, and of value; legends should be concise, well-labeled, and correlate to the appropriate figures; videos should open and play properly).

Please note that supplementary material presented in an MS Excel spreadsheet will need to be accessed via the “Supplemental Data” button.

Contact Information

Request assistance with the review process at:

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Article Scans

Video Highlights

Video abstract from Drs. Banerjee, Surendran, Bharti, Morishita, Varshney, and Pal on their recently published STEM CELLS paper entitled, "Long non-coding RNA RP11-380D23.2 drives distal-proximal patterning of the lung by regulating PITX2 expression." Read the paper here.

Video abstract from Drs. Sayed, Ospino, Himmati, Lee, Chanda, Mocarski, and Cooke on their recently published STEM CELLS paper entitled, "Retinoic Acid Inducible Gene 1 Protein (RIG1)-like Receptor Pathway is Required for Efficient Nuclear Reprogramming." Read the paper here.

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