Information for Reviewers
(Revised January 23, 2023)
Individuals who are new to the peer review process or those who want to refine their peer reviewing skills are encouraged to read the journal’s information materials below. The journal’s publisher, Wolters Kluwer, also provides a free Peer Reviewer Training Course. Obstetrics & Gynecology invites anyone with clinical expertise in obstetrics and gynecology, or closely related fields, to sign up as a peer reviewer. To submit your name to the Editors for consideration, please complete the
Current reviewers for Obstetrics & Gynecology may update their reviewer preferences by logging into their Editorial Manager account.
*Individuals who are interested in reviewing for Obstetrics & Gynecology must sign up with the Editorial Office by completing the
reviewer form. Indicating your preference to review within your Editorial Manager profile (ie, answering "Yes" to "Available to review?") will not alert the Editorial Office or Editors to your request.
Responsibilities of a Reviewer:
The World Association of Medical Editors (http://www.wame.org
) has educational materials online for editors, and these include a list of reviewer responsibilities:
- Evaluate manuscripts critically but constructively.
- Prepare detailed comments about the research and manuscript to help authors improve their work.
- Recommend to the editor whether the paper is suitable for the journal.
- Declare real or perceived conflicts of interests—this may be personal or professional—anything that would prevent the reviewer from providing an objective analysis of the work.
- Treat the manuscript as confidential (eg, reviewers may not contact others about the work).
- Avoid making derogatory comments to the authors.
- Refrain from using the work they review in any way in their own work.
- Avoid communicating directly with the authors.
Transparent Peer Review:
Since 2018, the journal has instituted two efforts at increasing transparency around the peer review process. This occurs in two areas (accepted articles, only):
- The dates of submission, revision, and acceptance is published in the article acknowledgments.
The peer reviewers’ and Editor’s comments to the author, along with the authors’ responses to these comments, will be published as supplemental digital content to the online version of the article. Reviewer comments will remain anonymous (unless you choose to reveal your identity by typing your name in your review, which you are not required to do). The iterative communication from the Editor to the authors will also be published so that interested readers can see the process of moving a manuscript from submission to publication. Authors can opt out of having their responses to these comments published if they wish to do so. However, even if the authors decline to have their responses published, the reviewer and Editor comments will be posted online.
When you agree to future review invitations from
Obstetrics & Gynecology, you will be
opting in to the publication of your reviewer comments as supplemental digital content to the article. Again, reviewer comments will remain anonymous.
Completing Your Review:
During the reviewer registration process in Editorial Manager, you were asked to select classifications in which you have expertise so that we can appropriately direct manuscripts to you for review. Peer reviewers should be knowledgeable about the topic or methods used in the manuscript, and if you find that we’ve incorrectly assigned an assignment to you, please decline the review and let us know why in your comments.
As a content expert, we are asking you to put the work into context and perspective. Does the work offer new or important confirmatory information about a clinically relevant topic? The journal values positive studies, negative studies, and studies that refute previously published findings.
When you receive a request to review a manuscript, there are several steps that we recommend you take.*
- Quickly examine the request to make sure that you are a content expert for the topic or methodologies used.
- Make sure that you don’t have any conflicts related to the writers, topic, or funding sources.
- Confirm that you have time to complete the review in the allotted, 14-day period. It can take 2–8 hours to complete a review and if you are at a period in your life that will simply preclude that, we would much rather you decline it early rather than late. We strive to have a rapid submission-to-decision period for our authors and your honesty on this point is important.
- Read the manuscript, perhaps making notes of specific issues you want to address in your review.
- Search the literature for similar articles. In your reviewer menu on Editorial Manager, there is a link to “Similar Articles in MEDLINE” that will bring up a list of comparable articles.
- Make notes or an informal outline of what you want to tell the editor.
- Write your review (one page or less is sufficient). It is a good idea to complete your “Comments to the Author” and Comments to the Editor” in a word-processing program so that you can save them for later and run them through spellcheck.
- Reread your review for clarity, helpfulness to the authors and editor, and correctness.
- Complete the reviewer form in Editorial Manager.
In the event that you are no longer available to complete a review you have already accepted, please
contact the Editorial Office
to have the assignment removed from your account.
*Special thanks to Nancy C. Rose, MD (former Editorial Board member), and James R. Scott, MD (Editor Emeritus), for their ideas on reviewing a manuscript.
Comments to the Authors:
This is the section where you will provide constructive feedback to the authors about their submission. Please begin your feedback with a summary comment that indicates that you understood the article you are reviewing. An example is: “This is a nested cohort study performed at three institutions testing the hypothesis that oral contraceptive pill use decreases the risk of acne.” Your review should move from the general to the specific and should be focused and practical.
Keep in mind that an author needs to respond specifically to criticism, so you should confine your evaluation to a functional change that will improve the manuscript whether accepted or not. (Many rejected manuscripts are eventually published in other journals.) It is most helpful to the author if you follow these guidelines:
- Number your comments.
- Include the line numbers from the manuscript in your comments when appropriate, to aid the author in revising the manuscript.
- Any manuscript accepted by
Obstetrics & Gynecology is copyedited, so don’t feel the need to correct spelling or grammatical errors. You can, however, point out a manuscript’s generally poor spelling and grammar if they make it difficult for the reader to understand what is being said.
- As of January 2019, the journal has eased its requirements for authors to adhere to strict formatting guidelines. This change was made in an attempt to ease the burden for authors, who often must reformat their manuscript every time they submit to a different journal. We still encourage authors to skim the Instructions for Authors, but for the initial submission, our editorial team will be flexible about the formatting of different manuscript elements. As a reviewer, therefore, you do not need to comment on manuscript formatting. If authors are asked to revise their manuscript, the editorial office will provide additional guidance to the author.
- Remember to keep your review focused and practical. Restrict your comments to elements that are fixable in the context of what the manuscript is. Focus on the purpose of the study, study design and analysis, scientific validity, and conclusions.
Some examples of constructive Comments to the Authors include:
- “Results: Your data combine patients with and without a prior vaginal delivery. In your introduction (Line 75), you state that your study focuses on patients with a previous cesarean who now desires a TOLAC. Can you separate your data out in the analysis?”
- “You report data over a period of 20 years. Treatment may have changed in this time, thus creating confounding effects. Consider presenting your data in quartiles to minimize this problem.”
- “This report is very long, with several redundancies. For instance, Figure 2 adds nothing to the text and the substance of Table 3 is repeated on lines 267-275.”
Comments to the Editors:
The “Comments to the Editors” section provides reviewers the opportunity to give a confidential bottom-line assessment of the manuscript. These comments should be brief and can be fairly informal and to the point. You do not need to copy the “Comments to Authors” into the “Comments to Editors” section, as the editors will see both.
These comments allow you an opportunity to refocus on what you think the disposition of a manuscript should be. Some basic questions the editors ask themselves when considering the disposition of a manuscript are:
- Is the content unique, or is this a “me-too” study? Is the material not already in the literature?
- Is the manuscript scientifically accurate?
- Is it clinically useful? (We do not publish many basic science articles, because in most cases they will not have direct clinical applications.)
- Does it meet the “common sense” rule? That is, do the authors’ results and associations seem plausible?
- Will it be of interest to our readers, most of whom are doctors in practice looking for information that will help them better counsel and treat their patients? A manuscript may be excellent, but not appropriate for our audience.
The Comments to the Editor is also the section of the review where you would comment on any ethical concerns you have with the manuscript. These might include suspected plagiarism (although for all accepted submissions, we do an online plagiarism screen), fraud, or patient confidentiality breeches.
Some examples of useful “Comments to Editors” are:
- “This RCT was well-done; however there is already a lot in the literature on this subject and this study does not appear to offer anything new.”
- “The methodology appears to be sound, but this topic is of limited interest to our readers; a subspecialty journal might be a more appropriate venue.”
- “Interesting question but the study simply doesn’t have enough power to answer it.”
What Qualities Make a Review Exceptional?
The overall criteria for an exceptional review are described in our Reviewer Grading Scale, and are as follows:
- The review is comprehensive, objective, and insightful.
- The review evaluates the purpose of the study, study design, scientific validity, and conclusions.
- Suggestions for the author are numbered.
- Constructive suggestions to be addressed by the author are given.
- Comments to the editor are included addressing whether this is something new and important and useful to the journal’s readers.
- The review is returned very promptly.
After You’ve Submitted Your Review:
Your work as a reviewer shouldn’t stop after submitting the review. Take the time to read and consider the other reviews when a final decision is made by the editors. (You’ll receive a copy of the final decision letter via e-mail. You can also log-in to
, navigate to the manuscript in your “Completed Assignments” folder, and click on “View Decision Letter.”) Reading the other reviews can give you insight into the manuscript itself (and things you might have missed), and it can also make you a better reviewer. Most importantly, if the article is ultimately published, read the published version. This way, you can get a sense of how your contribution has benefited the scientific literature as a whole.
For additional resources on the topic of peer review, please see:
- Allen LA, Ho PM. Peer Review of a Manuscript Submission: A How-To Guide for Effective and Efficient
Commentary. Circ Heart Fail 2017 Dec;10(12). pii: e004766. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.117.004766. Available at
http://circheartfailure.ahajournals.org/content/10/12/e004766.long. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
COPE Council. COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. September 2017. Available at
https://publicationethics.org/files/Ethical_Guidelines_For_Peer_Reviewers_2.pdf. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
- Durning SJ, Carline JD, eds. Review Criteria for Research Manuscripts, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Association of American Medical Colleges; 2015. Available at:
https://members.aamc.org/eweb/upload/Review%20Criteria%20For%20Research%20Manuscripts.pdf. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
- Moher D, Jadad AR. How to peer review a manuscript. In: Godlee F, Jefferson T, editors. Peer review in health sciences. 2nd ed. London: BMJ Publishing Group; 2003. p. 183–190.
- Raff J. How to become good at peer review: A guide for young scientists. Available at:
http://violentmetaphors.com/2013/12/13/how-to-become-good-at-peer-review-a-guide-for-young-scientists/. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
- Stiller-Reeve, M. How to write a thorough peer review. Nature, October 8, 2018. doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-06991-0. Available at:
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06991-0. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
- Students 4 Best Evidence. Don’t confuse “statistical significance” with “importance.” Available at: https://www.students4bestevidence.net/dont-confuse-statistical-significance-with-importance/. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
- Wallace J. How To Be A Good Peer Reviewer. The Scholarly Kitchen. Available at: https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2019/09/17/how-to-be-a-good-peer-reviewer/. Retrieved September 24, 2019.