If you have ever submitted a manuscript to a professional journal, then you have some experience with the peer review process. As I have become increasingly familiar with peer review publication, I have become more convinced over time that the true purpose of peer review is being missed by many reviewers and authors and, sometimes, even by editors. With that in mind, it is a good idea to revisit the philosophy by which the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing (JNN) approaches peer review.
First and foremost, the peer review process is a collaboration between the author(s) and the reviewer(s). The intent of peer review was never meant to be some form of investigative journalism. The aim of the reviewer is not to find all the faults but rather to genuinely provide meaningful contribution. Ultimately, the reviewer is partially responsible for the content.
As an author, I have had some exceptional experiences with reviewers, and I have taken my fair share of abuse. As an editor, I also have the opportunity to see both ends of the spectrum. The JNN has some great reviewers—people who take the time to write constructive feedback: “Change the verb tense on page 2 line 48 to match the prior sentence.” and “Please consider adding the work by Dr. XYZ that just published in JNN last month as this helps fill in a few gaps in the literature.” Great reviewers are really focused on improving the overall quality of the finished product. Great reviewers are well aware that, in 2019, no one person (especially the editor) is up-to-date on every article ever published. Great reviewers also know that every human on the planet has made mistakes. Great reviewers guide the author toward the development of a better end product.
That said, some reviewers can be a bit harsh: “You obviously have not read the recent literature.” and “I don’t understand why you think this is relevant.”—or my personal pet peeve, “This could be significantly improved if you wrote the paragraph more clearly.” We have all received harsh reviews, and I’m sure that many of you have a story to share.
Just as the reviewer plays a vital role in the collaboration, so too does the author. Great authors eagerly await the peer review. For them, the reviewer is an extra set of eyes. As they prepare their response to reviews, they get a chance to improve their article and fix those pesky errors before the final printed version arrives at thousands of doorsteps.
The peer review process should not be like backseat driving. Reviewers should not consider their domain to lie in the realm of supervisory professors; rather, they are peers. Similarly, authors should not approach reviewer comments with disdain and disgust but rather appreciate that someone took the time (or volunteered their time) to go through their manuscript line-by-line and help them create a masterpiece. The JNN is always looking for great reviewers and great authors. I hope that you volunteer for both of these roles and grow our profession.
The Editor declares no conflicts of interest.