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Communities of Practice in Peer Review: Outlining a Group Review Process

Nagler, Alisa JD, MA, EdD; Ovitsh, Robin MD; Dumenco, Luba MD; Whicker, Shari EdD; Engle, Deborah L. EdD, MS; Goodell, Kristen MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002804

Traditional peer review remains the gold standard for assessing the merit of scientific scholarship for publication. Challenges to this model include reliance on volunteer contributions of individuals with self-reported expertise; lack of sufficient mentoring and training of new reviewers; and the isolated, noncollaborative nature of individual reviewer processes.

The authors participated in an Association of American Medical Colleges peer-review workshop in November 2015 and were intrigued by the process of group peer review. Subsequent discussions led to shared excitement about exploring this model further. The authors worked with the staff and editors of Academic Medicine to perform a group review of 4 submitted manuscripts, documenting their iterative process and analysis of outcomes, to define an optimal approach to performing group peer review.

Individual recommendations for each manuscript changed as a result of the group review process. The group process led to more comprehensive reviews than each individual reviewer would have submitted independently. The time spent on group reviews decreased as the process became more refined. Recommendations aligned with journal editor findings. Shared operating principles were identified, as well as clear benefits of group peer review for reviewers, authors, and journal editors.

The authors plan to continue to refine and codify an effective process for group peer review. They also aim to more formally evaluate the model, with inclusion of feedback from journal editors and authors, and to compare feedback from group peer reviews versus individual reviewer feedback. Finally, models for expansion of the group-peer-review process are proposed.

A. Nagler is assistant director, Division of Education, American College of Surgeons, Chicago, Illinois, and adjunct associate professor of the practice of medical education, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina.

R. Ovitsh is associate dean of clinical competencies and associate professor of pediatrics, SUNY Downstate School of Medicine, Brooklyn, New York.

L. Dumenco is assistant dean of medical education and assistant professor of medical sciences, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

S. Whicker is director, Office of Continuing Professional Development, director, TEACH (Teaching Excellence Academy for Collaborative Healthcare), and associate professor, Department of Pediatrics and Interprofessionalism, Virginia Tech Carillion School of Medicine, Roanoke, Virginia.

D.L. Engle is assistant dean for assessment and evaluation and associate professor, Duke University Medical School, Durham, North Carolina.

K. Goodell is associate dean of admissions and assistant professor of family medicine, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Previous presentations: Some of the information in this manuscript was presented as part of a workshop at Learn Serve Lead: The AAMC Annual Meeting, November 2017, Boston, Massachusetts.

Correspondence should be addressed to Alisa Nagler, American College of Surgeons, 633 N. Saint Clair St., Chicago, IL 60611; telephone: (312) 202-5438; email:

Copyright © 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges