JBJS Essential Surgical Techniques Reviewer Guidelines

Revised August 28, 2016


Reviews of technique papers differ substantially from reviews of scientific papers. A review consists of 4 standardized questions, comments, and a grade.

There are 2 types of JBJS Essential Surgical Techniques (EST) papers.

  1. Subspecialty Procedures (SP)  EST articles are primarily subspecialty focused; are written in an instructional, step-by-step format; and include video shown in-line with the text. Authors use a structured template that results in a standardized, succinct, easy-to-read, step-by-step format for the submitted paper. In brief, the structure consists of:
    • introduction (background, goals of the procedure, how this procedure differs from other treatment options for the same condition).
    • indications and contraindications.
    • steps of the procedure.
    • results (brief summary of published outcomes).
    • recommendations, including pitfalls, challenges, pearls of wisdom, tips and tricks, warnings (e.g., what to watch out for during the procedure).
  2. Key Procedures (KP) EST articles are primarily focused on more general procedures that most orthopaedic surgeons should know how to perform and are presented entirely in a narrated video format with a written abstract. The article that you review will be either a storyboard plan for a video that has not yet been produced or the video itself. As editing a video after production is difficult, authors are strongly advised to submit a storyboard outlining a detailed plan that can be peer reviewed and approved or rejected before they produce the video.

All EST papers should:

  • be accurate.
  • be understandable. A general orthopaedic surgeon should understand how to perform the procedure (but not necessarily be capable of doing the procedure as this depends on his/her experience).
  • be sufficiently detailed. Surgeons should be able to grasp the technique of the actual procedure from reading the paper alone without referring to other resources.
  • have sufficient multimedia content (figures, video, animated object or anatomical models, etc.) to demonstrate the procedure.
  • include informational details, with tips or "pearls of wisdom" that provide surgeons the benefit of, or sense of, having a more experienced surgeon beside them.

Refrain from:

  • reviewing the content of the cited paper reporting the procedure's outcomes.
  • critiquing whether you think the procedure has merit.
  • correcting grammar, typographical errors, etc. (JBJS copy editors do this later.) Only review the medical substance of the manuscript. JBJS Essential Surgical Techniques receives many manuscripts from foreign countries and you should comment if you believe problems in translation prevent you from understanding the content.
  • identifying yourself. Reviews are blinded and manuscripts are confidential.


Reviews consist of 3 parts (standardized questions, comments, and grade).

1. Standardized questions that the reviewer answers with 1 of 5 ratings: unacceptable, below average, average, above average, exceptional:

  1. Is the paper accurate? When selecting your answer, please consider the manuscript's introduction, indications and contraindications, anatomical descriptions, procedure descriptions, cited outcomes, identification of pitfalls, etc.
  2. Would a general orthopaedic surgeon understand the procedure? When choosing your response, please consider the paper's clarity, accurate usage of terms, avoidance of slang, description of a sufficient number of steps, and adequacy of orientation/labeling of images.
  3. Is there sufficient multimedia content? Examples of multimedia include radiographs, advanced imaging, illustrations, diagrams, surgical video, Sawbones demonstration video, fluoroscopic cine, video demonstrating patient outcomes, and motion animation.
  4. Is there sufficient detail? Consider whether or not the description of the technique is too cursory, whether the level of detail is sufficient, whether a complete list of risks/pitfalls has been provided, the explanation of each step, the rationale given for intraoperative decisions, etc.

2. Specific comments (list by line number or page/paragraph or by video file number and time mark).

Some considerations:

  1. Explain the reasons for your ratings in response to the questions above.
  2. Does the title clearly describe the surgical procedure?
  3. Are there hints or "pearls of wisdom" that should be added?
  4. Add suggestions to improve and attract reader interest.
  5. Has this surgical technique been published elsewhere? If so, provide suggestions to improve this paper beyond the existing publication. Please cite the prior publication so that the editorial staff can check for any duplicate publications by the authors.
  6. Is there any private health information or patient identifier on any of the figures or video? These will need to be cropped, masked, or blurred.
  7. Results: When author(s) quote the results of a clinical series, they should include the number of patients studied. It is preferable to state the outcome in terms of objective end points rather than using terms such as "good" or "excellent." If these subjective terms are used, they should be defined. Outcomes that are time-dependent should include the time point of the quoted outcome measure (e.g., "52 (80%) of 65 knee arthroplasties had not been revised at 5 years after implantation"). Percentages should always be accompanied by the numerator and denominator to which they refer; e.g., "10 (20%) of 50 patients". Author(s) may quote the results of other series in order to provide context in which to understand the outcome of a procedure.
  8. Video/multimedia: Clicking on a video icon in the manuscript should open up an embedded video link (if you have difficulty, please contact the JBJS editorial office at editorial@surgicaltechniques.org). Is there sufficient detail to orient the viewer to the anatomical subject matter? Does the video zoom in close enough to demonstrate the procedural step being described? Is the audio track accurate and appropriate? Is the addition of narration or annotations advisable? Is the video the appropriate length or should extraneous portions be deleted? Is anything that could identify the patient accidentally displayed? Is the focus acceptable?
  9. References: Is the bibliography complete without being excessive?

3. Grading the paper

  • Ready: These papers are completely suitable for JBJS Essential Surgical Techniques and are both educational and informative. No re-review is required; minor clarifications and corrections may be necessary, but they can be handled during the copy editing process.
  • Minor Revision: These papers require minor revisions that should be re-reviewed upon resubmission. The deficiencies identified may be significant but nonetheless should be correctable by most author(s) within 2 weeks.
  • Major Revision: These papers require more substantive revisions that should be re-reviewed upon resubmission. The deficiencies cited will require most authors to take more than 2 week to complete.
  • Reject: These papers should not be published in JBJS Essential Surgical Techniques because the subject matter is not suitable, the content is not of sufficient educational value or interest, or the deficiencies are unlikely to be correctable. As a reviewer, you must firmly believe that your reservations concerning the manuscript are valid and that the authors cannot correct the deficiencies. List 2 or 3 major reasons why you believe the manuscript should be rejected in your general comments. If you are convinced that a manuscript should be rejected, detailed specific comments are unnecessary. Be objective and do not write pejorative comments when recommending a rejection decision.

Questions? Please email the editorial staff at editorial@surgicaltechniques.org.

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