JAVMA Information for Reviewers - Factors to consider when evaluating retrospective studies




  • Is the purpose of the study clear and is the objective of the study relevant?
  • Are there sufficient new and important findings to warrant publication?
  • Has any or all of the information in the manuscript been published previously?

Case Selection

  • Are criteria for selection of cases appropriate?


  • Do the data support the conclusions?


  • Is the writing clear, concise, and readable?
  • Should any sections of the manuscript be expanded, condensed, or eliminated?
  • Have authors used abbreviations or jargon to excess?

Specific Manuscript Sections


  • Is the title a clear, accurate representation of the article's content?


  • Is the abstract a clear, concise (< 250 words), accurate representation of the major findings of the study?


  • Is the introduction focused on relevant aspects of the topic and not just a literature review?
  • Is the reason for performing the study clearly stated?
  • Is the study design a valid means of addressing the study's objectives?

Materials and Methods

  • Are criteria used to include animals in or exclude animals from the study clearly stated?
  • Are methods by which the diagnosis was confirmed clearly stated and appropriate?
  • Are any experimental procedures that were used described in sufficient detail?
  • Are statistical methods valid?


  • Are data presented in a clear and understandable manner?
  • Do authors account for all animals?
  • Are the results credible?
  • Are calculations correct (please scan and spot check)?
  • Do tables, text, and figures agree with and complement each other?
  • Are all tables and figures necessary or is there repetition of material?
  • Is the figure quality adequate?


  • Are any results mentioned for the first time in the discussion?
  • Do the authors interpret the data rather than simply restating the results?
  • Are any ideas or conclusions overemphasized or underemphasized?
  • Do the authors provide a balanced view of the importance of the results?
  • Do the authors cite relevant work of others?
  • Are all conclusions supported by the results?
  • Are any key issues not addressed?
  • Is all of the discussion relevant?
  • Do the authors make any recommendations not supported by their data or beyond the scope of the study?


  • Are citations and quotations correct (please scan and spot check)?
  • Are all references pertinent or are some inconsequential?
  • Have any important references been omitted (please provide citations)?

Factors to consider when reviewing manuscripts

  1. Original Study
  2. Retrospective Study
  3. Clinical Report
  4. What Is Your Diagnosis?

Version: July 27, 2012