Purpose: This study examined the quality of peer review in three scholarly nursing journals from the perspectives of authors and editors. Specifically, the study examined the extent to which manuscript reviews provided constructive guidance for authors to further develop their work for publication, and for editors to make informed and sound decisions on the disposition of manuscripts.
Methods: Corresponding authors who had submitted manuscripts to the study journals in 2005-2007 were invited via email to complete an online survey about the quality of the peer review process; 320 authors responded. In addition, one third of the reviews of manuscripts submitted in 2005-2007 (a total of 528) were selected for rating by journal editors on level of detail, bias, and constructive tone; usefulness to authors in revising/developing the manuscript; and usefulness to the editor in making a decision.
Results: A majority (73.8%) of authors agreed that peer reviews provided constructive guidance, and 75.6% agreed that reviews provided adequate rationale for editors' decisions. New authors generally reported less satisfaction with reviews than more experienced authors. Ratings of reviews by the editors revealed some problem areas, including inconsistency, insufficient feedback to the author, reviewer bias, and disrespectful tone.
Conclusions: Given the inexperience of many nurse authors, it is incumbent upon editors and reviewers to provide guidance and support. Manuscript reviews could be improved by increasing the consistency of numeric ratings, narrative comments, and recommendations regarding disposition of the manuscripts. Nevertheless, the results of this study reaffirm the worth of the peer review approach.
Clinical relevance: Publication of research and other forms of scholarly work is critical to the development of nursing knowledge that can be used in clinical practice. Authors with a variety of backgrounds, knowledge, and skills have important work to share that can serve healthcare providers and their clients. Thus, ensuring the quality of the peer review process is essential.