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Keywords:

  • nursing;
  • peer review;
  • biomedical publication;
  • journalology

Purpose: To describe nursing journal reviewers' professional backgrounds, reviewing experience, time investment, and perceptions of their role.

Design: Exploratory descriptive cross-sectional study.

Methods: A 69-question survey containing both fixed-option and open-ended questions and accessed via the World Wide Web was completed by 1,675 nursing journal reviewers who had been invited to participate by editors of 52 nursing journals.

Findings: Participants were from 44 countries, with 74% from the US, and 90% were nurses. The majority were doctorally prepared academics who were involved in research. They reported spending an average of 5 hours on each critique and completed an average of 7–8 reviews per year. The most common reason reported for becoming involved was personal contact with an editor. Lack of time because of competing work commitments was the most commonly cited barrier to reviewing and negative aspect of the role. The most common positive aspect was keeping up to date with the field.

Conclusions: Nursing journal peer reviewers express rewards and challenges similar to those reported elsewhere for biomedical journal reviewers. Based on these findings, editors might consider new approaches to recruiting and supporting reviewers, and potential reviewers might gain insight into the role. Support of these distinguished scholars in this important role is critical to sustain the quality of scholarship that informs nursing practice, education, and research.

Clinical Relevance: Clinicians, researchers, and educators who rely on the quality of the articles published in nursing journals can learn from this survey about the background and experiences of those who protect that quality by providing expert feedback to authors and editors.