WMJ Reviewer Guide
Overview of the editorial process
Preliminary review by medical editor, who makes decision to distribute for review based on:
- Fit with other work in WMJ
- Quality/originality of research topic
- Clarity of research question
- Originality of methods
- Writing style
Selection of peer reviewers:
- Medical editor and WMJ staff select possible reviewers based on information in our volunteer reviewer database
- WMJ staff sends request to reviewers with copy of manuscript, associated figures and due date (3 weeks from request date)
- Reviewers reply to staff regarding availability/willingness to review
After reviews are returned:
- Medical editor makes decision based on reviews
- Letter is sent to corresponding author with anonymous reviewer comments
- Staff sends copy of decision letter and comments to all reviewers for information
WMJ reviewer expectations/process
Upon receiving e-mail query from WMJ staff:
- Read abstract
- Look at your schedule and requested due date
- Respond yes or no. If you are unable to review, we need to know so we can ask someone else instead
Doing the review:
- Make notes as you read the article
- Note general questions, concerns, positives
- Write review/make recommendations using Peer Track system.
Elements of a good review
- Maintain a respectful tone (how would you react if you received it?)
- Show evidence that you have read the manuscript; include a short summary of the paper at the beginning
- Comment on all sections of the paper
- Make suggestions for additional content, references, or other arguments
Elements of a poor review
- Judgmental rather than descriptive
- More about the reviewer than the manuscript
- Not objective – reviewer has strong bias or an “axe to grind”
- Insufficient – too short to be useful for editorial decision or feedback to author
Some hints about judging manuscript quality
- Is the title appropriate?
- Is the information presented useful/important?
- How valid are the conclusions presented in the paper?
- How old and how thorough are the references?
- Is the paper well-written, clear and understandable to the general reader?
Writing the review
Comments to the author:
- General impressions (positives, concerns, questions [what wasn’t clear])
- Suggestions for improvement
- Specific items noted (List by page, paragraph and line number)
Comments to the editor:
- Your judgment as to whether the manuscript should be accepted, and why (or why not)
- Does it have a legitimate place in the medical literature?
- Do you think it would make a good CME article?
- Additional concerns (eg, duplicate publication; signs of plagiarism)
Possible editorial decisions:
- minor revisions required
- major revisions required
- Accept (Note: it is rare that a manuscript is accepted without at least minor revisions)
Critiquing your own review
After reviewing the all the peer reviewers’ comments, the medical editor sends a first decision letter to the corresponding author with the anonymous reviewers’ comments attached. As a reviewer, you will receive a copy of this letter. At that time, you should:
- Compare your recommendation to the editor’s decision
- Compare your review to those of the other reviewers, noting:
- specific points you caught or missed
- potential usefulness to authors
- Use this feedback to inform and improve your future reviews
Useful Links for WMJ Reviewers