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1.  Does mentoring new peer reviewers improve review quality? A randomized trial 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:83.
Background
Prior efforts to train medical journal peer reviewers have not improved subsequent review quality, although such interventions were general and brief. We hypothesized that a manuscript-specific and more extended intervention pairing new reviewers with high-quality senior reviewers as mentors would improve subsequent review quality.
Methods
Over a four-year period we randomly assigned all new reviewers for Annals of Emergency Medicine to receive our standard written informational materials alone, or these materials plus a new mentoring intervention. For this program we paired new reviewers with a high-quality senior reviewer for each of their first three manuscript reviews, and asked mentees to discuss their review with their mentor by email or phone. We then compared the quality of subsequent reviews between the control and intervention groups, using linear mixed effects models of the slopes of review quality scores over time.
Results
We studied 490 manuscript reviews, with similar baseline characteristics between the 24 mentees who completed the trial and the 22 control reviewers. Mean quality scores for the first 3 reviews on our 1 to 5 point scale were similar between control and mentee groups (3.4 versus 3.5), as were slopes of change of review scores (-0.229 versus -0.549) and all other secondary measures of reviewer performance.
Conclusions
A structured training intervention of pairing newly recruited medical journal peer reviewers with senior reviewer mentors did not improve the quality of their subsequent reviews.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-83
PMCID: PMC3494517  PMID: 22928960
Mentoring; Peer review; Scientific publication; Critical analysis; Journal peer reviewer
2.  Perceptions of Conflict of Interest Disclosures among Peer Reviewers 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26900.
Background
Disclosure of financial conflicts of interest (COI) is intended to help reviewers assess the impact of potential bias on the validity of research results; however, there have been no empiric assessments of how reviewers understand and use disclosures in article evaluation. We investigate reviewers' perceptions of potential bias introduced by particular author disclosures, and whether reviewer characteristics are associated with a greater likelihood of perceiving bias.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Of the 911 active reviewers from the Annals of Emergency Medicine, 410 were randomly selected and invited to complete our web-based, 3-part survey. We completed descriptive analysis of all survey responses and compared those responses across reviewer characteristics using 2×2 analyses and the Fisher exact test. We had a response rate of 54%. The majority of reviewers surveyed reported a high level of skepticism regarding financial relationships between authors and industry without a clear or consistent translation of that skepticism into the self-reported actions that characterize manuscript assessment. Only 13% of respondents believed physician consultants authoring articles based on company data are likely to have unlimited data access. 54% believed that bias most likely exists with any honorarium, regardless of monetary amount. Between 46% and 64%, depending on the type of financial relationship disclosed, reported that their recommendation for publication remains unchanged. Respondents reporting personal financial ties to industry were less likely to perceive bias in industry relationships and less likely to believe that bias exists with any monetary amount of honoraria.
Conclusions
We recommend that the monetary amount of all financial relationships be reported with manuscript submissions, lead authors certify that they have unrestricted access to data, and reviewers disclose any financial ties to industry whether or not they are related to the manuscript under review. Further research is required to better understand reviewers' perceptions of financial relationships between authors and industry in order to develop clear and consistent guidelines for incorporating the perception of potential bias into manuscript assessments.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026900
PMCID: PMC3206871  PMID: 22073216
3.  Training of Peer Reviewers: Validation of a 5-Point Rating Scale 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(4):e166.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040166
PMCID: PMC1876423  PMID: 17456001
4.  Training and Experience of Peer Reviewers: Authors' Reply 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e145.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040145
PMCID: PMC1831755
5.  The Relationship of Previous Training and Experience of Journal Peer Reviewers to Subsequent Review Quality 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(1):e40.
Background
Peer review is considered crucial to the selection and publication of quality science, but very little is known about the previous experiences and training that might identify high-quality peer reviewers. The reviewer selection processes of most journals, and thus the qualifications of their reviewers, are ill defined. More objective selection of peer reviewers might improve the journal peer review process and thus the quality of published science.
Methods and Findings
306 experienced reviewers (71% of all those associated with a specialty journal) completed a survey of past training and experiences postulated to improve peer review skills. Reviewers performed 2,856 reviews of 1,484 separate manuscripts during a four-year study period, all prospectively rated on a standardized quality scale by editors. Multivariable analysis revealed that most variables, including academic rank, formal training in critical appraisal or statistics, or status as principal investigator of a grant, failed to predict performance of higher-quality reviews. The only significant predictors of quality were working in a university-operated hospital versus other teaching environment and relative youth (under ten years of experience after finishing training). Being on an editorial board and doing formal grant (study section) review were each predictors for only one of our two comparisons. However, the predictive power of all variables was weak.
Conclusions
Our study confirms that there are no easily identifiable types of formal training or experience that predict reviewer performance. Skill in scientific peer review may be as ill defined and hard to impart as is “common sense.” Without a better understanding of those skills, it seems unlikely journals and editors will be successful in systematically improving their selection of reviewers. This inability to predict performance makes it imperative that all but the smallest journals implement routine review ratings systems to routinely monitor the quality of their reviews (and thus the quality of the science they publish).
A survey of experienced reviewers, asked about training they had received in peer review, found there are no easily identifiable types of formal training and experience that predict reviewer performance.
Editors' Summary
Background.
When medical researchers have concluded their research and written it up, the next step is to get it published as an article in a journal, so that the findings can be circulated widely. These published findings help determine subsequent research and clinical use. The editors of reputable journals, including PLoS Medicine, have to decide whether the articles sent to them are of good quality and accurate and whether they will be of interest to the readers of their journal. To do this they need to obtain specialist advice, so they contact experts in the topic of the research article and ask them to write reports. This is the process of scientific peer review, and the experts who write such reports are known as “peer reviewers.” Although the editors make the final decision, the advice and criticism of these peer reviewers to the editors is essential in making decisions on publication, and usually in requiring authors to make changes to their manuscript. The contribution that peer reviewers have made to the article by the time it is finally published may, therefore, be quite considerable.
Although peer review is accepted as a key part of the process for the publishing of medical research, many people have argued that there are flaws in the system. For example, there may be an element of luck involved; one author might find their paper being reviewed by a reviewer who is biased against the approach they have adopted or who is a very critical person by nature, and another author may have the good fortune to have their work considered by someone who is much more favorably disposed toward their work. Some reviewers are more knowledgeable and thorough in their work than others. The editors of medical journals try to take in account such biases and quality factors in their choice of peer reviewers or when assessing the reviews. Some journals have run training courses for experts who review for them regularly to try to make the standard of peer review as high as possible.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is hard for journal editors to know who will make a good peer reviewer, and there is no proven system for choosing them. The authors of this study wanted to identify the previous experiences and training that make up the background of good peer reviewers and compare them with the quality of the reviews provided. This would help journal editors select good people for the task in future, and as a result will affect the quality of science they publish for readers, including other researchers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors contacted all the regular reviewers from one specialist journal (Annals of Emergency Medicine). A total of 306 of these experienced reviewers (71% of all those associated with the journal) completed a survey of past training and experiences that might be expected to improve peer review skills. These reviewers had done 2,856 reviews of 1,484 separate manuscripts during a four-year study period, and during this time the quality of the reviews had been rated by the journal's editors. Surprisingly, most variables, including academic rank, formal training in critical appraisal or statistics, or status as principal investigator of a grant, failed to predict performance of higher-quality reviews. The only significant predictors of quality were working in a university-operated hospital versus other teaching environment and relative youth (under ten years of experience after finishing training), and even these were only weak predictors.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study suggest that there are no easily identifiable types of formal training or experience that predict peer reviewer performance, although it is clear that some reviewers (and reviews) are better than others. The authors suggest that it is essential therefore that journals routinely monitor the quality of reviews submitted to them to ensure they are getting good advice (a practice that is not universal).
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040040
• WAME is an association of editors from many countries who seek to foster international cooperation among editors of peer-reviewed medical journals
• The Fifth International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication is one of a series of conferences on peer review
• The PLoS Medicine guidelines for reviewers outline what we look for in a review
• The Council of Science Editors promotes ethical scientific publishing practices
• An editorial also published in this issue of PLoS Medicine discusses the peer review process further
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040040
PMCID: PMC1796627  PMID: 17411314
6.  Suturing versus conservative management of lacerations of the hand: randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7359):299.
Objective
To assess the difference in clinical outcome between lacerations of the hand closed with sutures and those treated conservatively.
Design
Randomised controlled trial.
Setting
Emergency department in a tertiary hospital.
Participants
Consecutive patients presenting between 16 February and 30 November 2000 with uncomplicated lacerations of the hand (full thickness <2 cm; without tendon, joint, fracture, or nerve complications) who would normally require sutures. 154 patients were eligible, 58 refused, and 5 were missed; 91 patients with 95 lacerations were enrolled.
Intervention
Participants were randomised to suturing or conservative treatment.
Main outcome measures
Primary outcome was cosmetic appearance after three months, rated on a previously validated visual analogue scale. Duration of treatment, pain during treatment, patients' assessment of their outcome, and the time for patients to resume normal activities were also measured.
Results
Participants treated with sutures and those treated conservatively did not differ significantly in the assessment of cosmetic appearance by independent blinded doctors after three months: 83 mm v 80 mm, (mean difference 3 (95% confidence interval −1 to 8) mm) on the visual analogue scale. The mean time to resume normal activities was the same in both groups (3.4 days). Patients treated conservatively had less pain (difference 18 (12 to 24) mm) and treatment time was 14 (10 to 18) min shorter.
Conclusion
Similar cosmetic and functional outcomes result from either conservative treatment or suturing of small uncomplicated lacerations of the hand, but conservative treatment is faster and less painful.
What is already known on this topicSutures provide secure and meticulous wound closure, but their placement is not without associated pain, fear, and increased risk of infectionWounds heal by second intention if treated without sutures and left openWhat this study addsNon-suturing of hand lacerations of <2 cm produced similar cosmetic and functional outcomes to suturing and was faster and less painful
PMCID: PMC117762  PMID: 12169503
8.  High-Dose Epinephrine Therapy and Other Advances in Treating Cardiac Arrest 
Western Journal of Medicine  1990;152(6):697-703.
These discussions are selected from the weekly staff conferences in the Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco. Taken from transcriptions, they are prepared by Homer A. Boushey, MD, Professor of Medicine, and Nathan M. Bass, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, under the direction of Lloyd H. Smith, Jr, MD, Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean in the School of Medicine. Requests for reprints should be sent to the Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA 94143.
Images
PMCID: PMC1002429  PMID: 2191503
10.  Emergency Medicine 
Western Journal of Medicine  1987;146(5):605-606.
PMCID: PMC1307412  PMID: 18750239

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