1. Pickler, Rita H.

Article Content

Nursing Research published our list of 2018 manuscript reviewers in the last issue. We are grateful to our many peer reviewers, most of whom review more than one paper a year for us as well as reviewing papers for other journals. We know our peer reviewers are busy people. In fact, you may, when asked to review a paper, have thought, "I don't have time to do this." I understand. I also think that. However, there are some advantages, to you and to science, for your thoughtful peer review.


What is in it for you? Honestly, what a great way to see what is being done in your scientific field. Peer review provides you with an early glimpse of cutting-edge science. If you are looking for benefits that are more tangible, consider these. At Nursing Research, we provide continuing education credits to our reviewers based on your time and the editor's evaluation of your review. Your service may receive other recognition by the Journal, including appointment to the editorial board or a request to edit a special edition of the Journal.


What is in it for science? Thorough, informed, fair reviews help authors improve their work and, thus, our scientific knowledge. All the scientists who review for Nursing Research are experts who have published their own research; we trust their scientific judgment. We do that while at the same time acknowledging there is a fair amount of criticism of the peer review process. It is true that peer review is not always blind when it should be, and when it is open, it may not always be frank. However, there really is no better system for insuring the publication of high-quality science.


What do you need to do to be a good peer reviewer? Some activities will improve your reviewer skills. First, be a good author. Writing and submitting your own papers sharpens your reviewer skills. In addition, you will get reviews back that will help you understand what an author sees and needs in a review. For in-depth reviewer training, Wolters Kluwer, the publisher of Nursing Research, and Editage have created a peer reviewer training course. New and early career reviewers will especially benefit from the interactive e-learning courses and discussion forums. There is a basic, free course option and an advanced option available at a discounted price for Wolters Kluwer authors and reviewers. The training course is accessible at In addition, on the Nursing Research website, we have posted original manuscripts, first reviews, authors' responses to reviews, and links to final accepted papers. This instructional "open review" is possible because of the generosity of authors who have agreed to share their papers and reviews. We have heard that this is a highly valued resource for both authors and reviewers. We hope you find it so at this link:


So what else do you need to know and do to be a good reviewer? Take time to understand what the Journal expects from reviewers. We have posted our Reviewer Guidelines on our website at In short, we ask reviewers to rate the manuscript for overall quality and on a series of basic criteria, such as design, writing style, and probable reader interest. We ask reviewers to make a determination of whether to accept, accept with minor revision, maybe accept with revisions, or reject. We then ask reviewers to provide comments to the authors (you may also provide confidential comments to the editor).


Comments to author are the most important part of the review. These comments should summarize the manuscript's main points and include identification of strengths and weaknesses. The comments should be constructive; authors use them to either make revisions for our Journal or, in the case of our rejection of the paper, to perhaps revise for another journal. In any event, authors learn from reviews, so we want them to have good material for that learning to occur. We ask you to focus on the paper's potential contribution to science within the context of existing scientific knowledge, the appropriateness of all aspects of the design, the suitability and thoroughness of the analysis, the correctness of the interpretation and discussion, and the quality of the writing, including correct use of formatting. We do not ask you to edit, correct English language errors, or reformat references or tables. Although we appreciate your comments on these areas, we know you are busy, and we have publisher help with these aspects. We prefer that you focus on the manuscript content; that is the most important job of our reviewers. We want to support our reviewers by making the review process as straightforward as possible. We also want to encourage the development of more novice scientists by helping them to become reviewers. To that end, if you review for us, we offer you the opportunity to involve your predoctoral students and postdoctoral trainees in the peer review process; the guidelines for doing so are found in the Reviewer Guidelines section of our website.


Finally, you may be wondering: How do I become a reviewer? At Nursing Research, for the most part, our authors are also our reviewers. If we publish your paper, we are likely to ask you to review. We also seek reviewers when we attend presentations at conferences. Current reviewers often recommend others for review; we follow up on as many of these recommendations as we can. You may also send us an inquiry about reviewing along with your curriculum vitae and perhaps some links to your published papers.


Participation in peer review is a key component of engagement in science. Nursing Research is committed to optimizing the peer review process for authors and reviewers. If you are not a reviewer and you would like to be, please send me an inquiry. If you are already reviewing for Nursing Research, thank you. Your service is invaluable to the Journal and the advancement of nursing science.