1. Dougherty, Molly C. PhD, RN, Editor

Article Content

The integrity of the publication process is necessary to advance knowledge and to support nursing practice. The peer review process undergirds the process and is the foundation for the quality of our literature. The peer review process has been studied in other disciplines and, although thought to be flawed, is judged superior to any other method (Godlee & Jefferson, 2003). It has been studied little in nursing.


Two recent articles based on a survey of 1,675 nursing journal peer reviewers provide valuable information about their time commitment, experience, and preferences (Baggs, Broome, Dougherty, Freda, & Kearney, 2008; Kearney, Baggs, Broome, Dougherty, & Freda, 2008). Heretofore, little research has tapped nursing journal peer reviewers for information about the crucial work they do to support the quality of our literature.


A newly published study addresses the quality of peer reviewers' reports for Nursing Research (Henly & Dougherty, 2009). On the basis of a continuous quality improvement process, two raters assessed 464 reviews on 203 manuscripts submitted after we started using Editorial Manager for manuscript processing.


Most reviews were highly rated and useful in making decisions about manuscripts, which supports my daily gratitude for our review panel. The report identified areas for improvement too. Almost 19% of reviews were poor or inadequate. These were not useful to the editor and likely not helpful to the authors either. Ultimately, poor reviews are wasteful of editor and reviewer time, a precious resource.


The findings provided the basis to make changes. In 2008 (we knew the results early on), we modified the reviewer guidelines, which are publicly available ( We plan to use the continuous quality improvement model to reduce the number of poor and inadequate reviews. Our aim is to provide authors with adequate and useful assessments even when we are not able to accept a manuscript for publication. Quality improvement of reviews for Nursing Research will shorten review time, better serve authors, and improve the quality of the articles we publish.


Knowledge is a powerful tool. I urge your attention toward these peer review articles because new understanding informs the creation of improved publication processes, which improve the quality of our literature.


Molly C. Dougherty, PhD, RN






Baggs, J. G., Broome, M. E., Dougherty, M. C., Freda, M. C., & Kearney, M. H. (2008). Blinding in peer review: The preferences of reviewers for nursing journals. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 64, 131-138. [Context Link]


Godlee, F., & Jefferson, T. (2003). Peer review in health sciences (2nd ed.). London: BMJ Books. [Context Link]


Henly, S. J., & Dougherty, M. C. (2009). Quality of manuscript reviews in nursing research. Nursing Outlook, 57, 18-26. [Context Link]


Kearney, M. H., Baggs, J. G., Broome, M. E., Dougherty, M. C., & Freda, M. C. (2008). Experience, time investment, and motivators of nursing journal peer reviewers. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 40, 395-400. [Context Link]