Methodology and Statistical Review: A New Dimension for The Journal

Heckman, James D., MD; Editor-in-Chief

doi: 10.2106/JBJS.8912.edit

As The Journal continues to focus on publishing the highest-quality evidence possible regarding musculoskeletal care, the manuscripts that are submitted to us continue to become more and more complex. The heart and soul of The Journal's critical analysis of manuscripts is the peer-review process, and all of our reviewers can provide expert commentary in their areas of special interest. While the reviewers are comfortable performing a content review, many are not as comfortable analyzing the research methods and statistical processes used to conduct the studies. Yet, our readers expect high-quality methodological and statistical analysis of each article, and many readers assume that these components of our published studies are exact and can be trusted to provide an honest analysis of the data.

To relieve the content reviewers from the responsibility of evaluating the methodology and statistics of each submitted study, and to ensure a standard high level of proficiency in this arena, we have established a new step in the manuscript review process. Last summer, three new Deputy Editors who are expert in methodology and statistics, Dr. Graham, Dr. Katz, and Dr. Losina, joined our editorial staff. Their responsibility is to review all preliminarily accepted manuscripts to assess the correctness of the methods used in the conduct of the study to ensure that the proper statistical methodology was employed. In this way, the reader can be certain that the conclusions of the study do not exceed the limits of the study design. This additional step will delay the processing of the manuscripts by two to three weeks, and it will require additional work on the part of the authors to address concerns raised in the methodology and statistical review.

This process has been in place for the last six months, and it is clear that the general quality of recently published studies has been enhanced. It is my hope that the addition of this new dimension to the review process will be of benefit to our authors and readers and that it will enhance the orthopaedic information base. As always, we seek feedback from all of those who are affected, and I invite comments from authors, reviewers, and readers as we implement this program to enhance our overall goal of excellence through peer review.

Copyright © 2007 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated