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Peer Review: Issues in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Wagner, Amy K. MD; Boninger, Michael L. MD; Levy, Charles MD; Chan, Leighton MD, MPH; Gater, David MD, PhD; Kirby, R. Lee MD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: October 2003 - Volume 82 - Issue 10 - p 790-802
doi: 10.1097/01.PHM.0000087607.28091.B7
Literature Review & Analysis: Research & Publishing
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Wagner AK, Boninger ML, Levy C, Chan L, Gater D, Kirby RL: Peer review: Issues in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2003;82:790–802.

Peer review, although the standard for evaluating scientific research, is not without flaws. Peer reviewers have been shown to be inconsistent and to miss major strengths and deficiencies in studies. Both reviewer and author biases, including conflicts of interest and positive outcome publication biases, are frequent topics of study and debate. Additional concerns have been raised regarding inappropriate authorship and adequate reporting of the ethical process involving human and animal experimentation. Despite these issues, a good peer review can provide positive feedback to authors and improve the quality of research reported in medical journals. This article reviews some issues and points of concern regarding the peer-review process, and it suggests guidelines for new (and established) reviewers in the area of physical medicine and rehabilitation. It also provides suggestions for editorial considerations and improvements in the peer-review process for physical medicine and rehabilitation research journals.

From the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AKW, MLB) and Safar Center for Resuscitation Research (AKW), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (AKW, MLB); Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (CL); Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (LC); Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan and Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, MI (DG); Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (RLK).

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Amy K. Wagner, MD, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh, 3471 Fifth Avenue, Suite 201, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.