Sunday, January 1, 2017

Guidelines for Reviewers

Thank you for your contribution to the AAEM/RSA blog as a reviewer. The goal of the blog is not only to hone writers’ skills, but also reviewers’ skills so you are prepared to be a valuable asset to the scientific community. Your role as a reviewer is more like a coach than anything else, and we provide tips on how to be the best coach possible.

Your Role (Expectations):

The AAEM/RSA blog accepts topic summary manuscripts on any topic related to medicine, from clinical care, to administration, to teaching techniques. The editor will screen article topics and type for you.
  • Look at the reviewer form on this page or the annotated version below.
  • Help the author tailor the topic to emergency physicians’ needs.
  • Ensure the author gives the whole story and interprets the references correctly. (e.g., If the author says TPA is a great solution for all ischemic strokes, s/he is not giving the whole story…)
  • Read the references if you don’t already know them.
  • Ensure that all references are peer-reviewed journal articles. i.e., no books or review subscriptions like UpToDate and Dynamed.
  • Suggest tables/figures that you see as potentially helpful.
  • Phrase your recommendations as supportive suggestions.
  • Review inserted graphics to ensure that there are no tables, text boxes, charts, graphs, etc. that are not in image format (.jpg or .png files).
  • Edit grammar. (There is a copyeditor who does that later.)
  • Write antagonizing or demoralizing comments.


You occasionally may be lucky enough to have a faculty mentor who will review your review and give feedback on your feedback. Please accept their feedback openly, and use it to grow as a reviewer. They are academicians and section editors of WestJEM who have a lot to offer you.

How to submit your review:
  1. Write your review in the Word document sent with the submission.
  2. Copy/paste your review below the manuscript you reviewed so both (the manuscript and your review) are in one file.
  3. Submit the single file that contains the manuscript and your review via the link sent with your invitation to review the article.
  4. Be careful to write the correct submission number in the form when you submit your review.
  • You and the authors have 2 weeks each to submit your review and edits, respectively.
  • If after 2 rounds of review/edits, the manuscript is still not acceptable to you as a reviewer, it is routed to the editor-in-chief for more direct mentorship with the author.
  • AAEM/RSA:, 1-800-884-2236 (central time zone)
  • The staff can answer any questions or put you in touch with the editor-in-chief.


I. Rate the quality of the manuscript.

Please indicate your agreement (+) or disagreement (-) with each question. (Note: A submission must receive a (+) for every category to be published.)

___ The topic is appropriate for emergency medicine students, residents, and attendings.

The Emergency Department (ED) is unique in the hospital because we spend most of our time figuring out what a diagnosis is NOT, rather than what a diagnosis IS. To that end, an article about differentiating pulmonary embolism from acute coronary syndrome would be relevant in the ED. Articles about third line chronic hypertension medications or differentiating Crohn’s disease from ulcerative colitis (UC) are less useful. The simple litmus test for this question is if you see yourself using this information on your next shift. As a reviewer, if you feel like the information is not relevant, please provide suggestions to the authors about how the topic can be more relevant. For example, a paper initially on Crohn’s vs UC could be morphed into a review of IBD complications commonly presenting to the emergency department (e.g. toxic megacolon, perforation, acute flares, etc).

___ The paper references credible peer-reviewed sources accurately. (Textbook references are acceptable but must not constitute the majority of references.)
Encourage authors to cite (and read!) the primary articles referenced in the review articles if the authors didn’t already. Only peer-reviewed journal articles are allowed as references.

___ References are formatted correctly in AMA citation format (examples below).

You do not need to make specific edits to the manuscript or say exactly which references are not fully formatted correctly. Just screen for the reference section being generally formatted correctly as opposed to an author’s unique way of citing references. If it is not correct, please just let the author know.

___ The content is evidence-based and appears accurate.

The article interpretations in the submission need to be reasonable. For example, if an author writing about syncope focused entirely on the San Francisco syncope and writes that it is sufficient by itself to decide to admit or send home, this would not be appropriate interpretation. They should have also included another validation study that found a low sensitivity. Essentially you are making sure that a nonbiased and well informed summary is provided.

___ The paper is well written. Headings and subheadings are used well. Ideas are coherent and flow between paragraphs.
This is less about grammar and more about if the paper simply makes sense. If paragraphs jump or ideas don’t flow, give suggestions for improving how the author can convey his/her idea on paper.

II. Positive Comments. Please remark as appropriate on particularly exceptional portions of the submission.

This is an opportunity to point out specific aspects that are good, such a summary statement, including two contrarian references, or creating a great table or figure.

III. Areas Needing Improvement. Please remark as appropriate on areas needing improvement prior to publication (include specific recommendations for improvement and refer to the paragraph and/or line numbers).

This is a delicate section. Before submitting your review, take a step back and re-read your review as if it were about a paper you wrote. If it makes you frustrated or upset, it probably needs to be toned down a bit. Remember that the authors put a lot of time and energy into the submission.

IV. Accessories. Please list any accessory tables, figures, etc. that you feel would improve the submission.(Note that copyright permission will have to be obtained.)

Some concepts are more easily understood with tables or figures. Please help authors by pointing this out if they haven’t already used tables or figures. They are not required, but highly encouraged.

V. Final Recommendation.

___Accept manuscript without revisions (as is)

___Ask author to revise and resubmit

Your overall impression:

We would like to thank our publications mentors for their contributions and Dr. Andrew Phillips for coordinating the production of these guidelines.

No comments:

Post a Comment