The Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health (JMWH) has a rigorous peer review process. The contributions of peer reviewers are an essential component of the JMWH publication process, yet the role and responsibilities of reviewers are often not fully understood. This editorial provides an overview of the JMWH peer review process and recognizes the Journal's 2010 peer reviewers.
Peer reviewers assist the editors in identifying the submissions that are appropriate for publication in JMWH. The specific purposes of peer review are to 1) advise the editors whether the manuscript content is important and appropriate for JMWH; 2) evaluate the quality of the manuscript, including adequacy and accuracy of the content; and 3) provide a constructive critique and specific recommendations that can help the author improve the manuscript. To use a clinical analogy, peer review is a quality assurance and improvement program for scholarly journals.
JMWH uses a closed peer review system in which author and reviewer identities are blinded, which is intended to minimize the possibility of biased reviews. The identity of the author is not revealed to the reviewers, and the identity of each reviewer is not revealed to the author or other reviewers. The editor selects reviewers for each manuscript based on the manuscript type and content and reviewers’ expertise, which is partly determined by keywords peer reviewers auto-select to describe their areas of expertise. The goal is to select a combination of reviewers who can view the manuscript from varying perspectives. For example, reviewers for a study would include an individual with expertise in the research methodology used as well as an individual with expertise in the content area.
Peer review for JMWH is conducted via our online manuscript submission and peer review system, ScholarOne Manuscripts. Reviewers are invited via e-mail and have 3 weeks to complete their reviews. After reading the manuscript, reviewers complete an online review form that includes a set of questions about the manuscript, their recommendations for whether or not to accept the manuscript for publication, a narrative review for the author, and any confidential comments for the editors.
After the peer reviewers complete their reviews, the final decision about acceptance versus rejection is made by the editor responsible for the manuscript. The letter that is sent to the author includes copies of the blinded reviews. When the letter is sent to the author, the reviewers receive an e-mail with the comments of the editor and the blinded reviews. This allows each reviewer to see the other reviews and how her or his review was incorporated into the final decision. Reading the editor's and other reviewers’ comments is helpful in improving one's skills as a peer reviewer.
Peer review is a gift to authors and editors. Why do reviewers choose to generously give their time and expertise? Reasons include the opportunity to learn something new, contributing to the profession, upholding the integrity of the profession's journal, and, for those who are authors, reciprocating the courtesy that has been shown to them by reviewers. The editors are always seeking new reviewers. If you are interested in becoming a peer reviewer for JMWH, please e-mail email@example.com and attach a copy of your curriculum vitae.
In 2010, more than 120 individuals reviewed manuscripts for JMWH. Their names are listed in Box 1. Thank you to all of our JMWH peer reviewers for their invaluable service to our authors, readers, and editors.