1. Freda, Margaret Comerford EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN, EDITOR

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MCN has a loyal following of nurses, many of whom have subscribed to the journal for innumerable years. I appreciate all of them, along with the new readers who have recently become aware of this excellent resource. Today I'm writing to suggest that some of you could actually contribute to the journal in an important way. I'd like to propose that some of you apply to be peer reviewers for the journal. I'm not sure that nurses who are clinically based understand the role of the peer reviewer or realize that they could be part of the literature in this way, so I'll explain. Every manuscript submitted to MCN is read by me. Then, if the manuscript is appropriate for MCN, it is sent to several nurse experts to read and review. I have 98 nurses in my peer review panel right now, and I could actually use some more!! I choose the peer reviewers for each manuscript on the basis of their areas of expertise and their ability and willingness to read a manuscript critically and submit a review to me within 1 month. When a nurse first starts as a peer reviewer, I send a packet of instructions and then send a few "test" reviews to help get started. Then, if she does well, and I agree, she is added to the panel (the full panel of reviewers' names are printed in MCN in each January/February issue).


How does one become a peer reviewer? Anyone who volunteers to be a peer reviewer contacts me and sends a copy of her CV. I prefer applicants who have reviewed for other journals and have published articles, but I certainly accept nurses who have neither of those qualifications if they truly have the desire to do reviews (such nurses without previous experience receive feedback from me to help them do complete and helpful reviews). What is the purpose of peer review? Specifically, it is to assist an author to make a manuscript the best it can be. To that end, clinical articles are sent to clinical nurses, and research articles are sent to research experts. No one is expected to review an article on a topic about which he or she has no experience. Reviewers need to be nurses who are familiar with the literature and can point an author in the right direction if he or she has left out an essential reference. The reviewer is especially important in identifying areas where the author needs more clarity in the manuscript or more description. It is extremely rare that a manuscript cannot be improved in some way, and the people responsible for improving it are the peer reviewers and the editor.


What would you get out of reviewing? First, it's a challenge and a thrill to add new expertise to your bag of tricks as a nurse. Reviewing for a journal automatically marks you as a nurse who is knowledgeable and savvy about the literature. When you receive a manuscript and review it, you have a renewed feeling of being a part of the knowledge base of nursing and making an important contribution to the larger nursing audience. You also get to read things that are on the cutting edge of our profession-things you might not ever have read if not for reviewing. Reviewing challenges your mind, causes you to think in new ways about issues in nursing, and even causes you to browse through similar literature to see where this manuscript is different or important. This is knowledge work, and most reviewers I know feel fulfilled and revitalized through doing it. At MCN, reviewers receive one manuscript every 2 months or so, depending on their stated areas of expertise and the types of submissions we receive. Rarely is it overwhelming, although it is another responsibility that must be fulfilled once you agree to do so.


I urge those of you who love nursing and nursing knowledge to contact me if you'd like to be a volunteer peer reviewer. I'll be happy to have a conversation with you about it and help you with some trial reviews if you care to. It's essential that we all keep our knowledge growing and that we challenge ourselves. How about contributing to MCN as a peer reviewer as your next challenge?


Margaret Comerford Freda, EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN, EDITOR