A Message from Journal for Nurses in Professional Development (JNPD) Editorial Board Member, Melanie Rainford, MSN, RN, NPD-BC
Last month, the JNPD Update highlighted the benefits and accountabilities of the peer reviewer role. In Part 2 of the peer reviewer series, JNPD focuses on what to do once you receive your first manuscript to review, namely, how to constructively critique a manuscript and provide authors with effective feedback. Once offered a manuscript to review—if you have the bandwidth—accept the request and begin assessing the manuscript for clarity, relevance, and completeness (Price, 2014, p. 44). Ultimately, your goal is to determine if the manuscript is appropriate for publication and provide this recommendation to the journal’s Editor-in-Chief.
A suggested process is to begin by reading the manuscript through for the first time while considering the timeliness of the topic, the appropriateness for the target audience, and the consistency with the purpose of the journal. Next, the reviewer should reread the article and make suggestions regarding content changes (Hoyt, 2007, p 261).
Consider starting the review write-up with a summary of main takeaways; this can demonstrate if the author was able to successfully translate their intended message to you, a reader in their target audience (Harding, 2010). Continue the review, offering a ‘big picture’ assessment (e.g., regarding the manuscript’s flow, organization, implications for the profession), as well as detailed commentary for improvement (e.g., word choice, sentence structure, references). When referencing a specific part of the manuscript, be sure to reference the line number and page. Keep in mind, the review does not necessarily need to be an outright list of revisions; the author can be asked questions for consideration or on points to clarify (Harding, 2010). In Hoyt’s 2007 article, there are a number of informative tables to guide reviewers in providing a thorough manuscript review (refer to pages 263–264). Once the document is thoroughly assessed, conclude the review with a direct recommendation, sent only to the Editor-in-Chief, to either accept the manuscript ‘as is,’ accept it pending recommended changes, or to reject it outright.
Remember, the aim and focus are to deliver objective and constructive feedback, understanding that “a wide range of factors influence nurses, including their education, clinical experiences and the literary traditions to which they are accustomed. Authors might rely on different technical terms and have different writing styles [from your own]” (Price, 2014, p. 43). These considerations help to encourage civility and promote a psychologically safe and healthy experience for all involved.
Being a peer reviewer is an excellent opportunity to brush up on the current state of the science and provide experience in NPD inquiry. Are you interested in becoming a peer reviewer? If so, review and complete the JNPD Peer Reviewer: Role/Responsibilities & Application. Email this application (and a current CV) to the JNPD Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Kathleen Burke, at email@example.com.
To catch up on Nursing Professional Development articles and research, visit the JNPD website, and be sure to connect with us on social media! Follow our LinkedIn page, and find us on Facebook and Twitter!
Melanie Rainford MSN, RN, NPD-BC
Editorial Board Member, Social Media
Journal for Nurses in Professional Development
Nursing Professional Development Specialist
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Harding, A. D. (2010). How to phrase feedback in peer reviews for nurse authors. Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal, 32(4), 333–337 doi: 10.1097/TME.0b013e3181f5819b
Hoyt, K. S., & Proehl, J. A. (2007). Peer review for professional publications. Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal, 29(3), 260–264 doi: 10.1097/01.TME.0000286969.01911.78
Price, B. (2014). Improving your journal article using feedback from peer review. Nursing Standard, 29(4), 43–50. doi:10.7748/ns.29.4.43.e9101