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Peer Review

Peer-Review is a system of review by eminent professionals in order to ensure that a manuscript is of a scholarly nature, that it provides a new and significant contribution to the literature, is not obviously incorrect or incomplete, and is potentially of interest to readers in the field. The fundamental question a reviewer should consider is whether the scientific community is better served by publishing or not publishing the manuscript.

Anybody can leave an informal peer-review assessment, but PubMed requires two Formal Peer-Reviewers who:

  1. are active or retired academic staff members of an accredited tertiary institution, who have exercised direct research and curriculum responsibilities, or
  2. are active or retired professionals who are credited as authors of at least two papers which have been indexed in MEDLINE (PubMed)

A peer-reviewer is expected to have expertise in the discipline of medicine canvassed by the paper, or to declare areas of weakness in the "conflict-of-interest" section of the peer-review.

Open Peer Review: assessment of manuscripts at JOIMR is carried out in public. Reviewers are expected to reveal who they are and where they work. Although all peer commentary is itself a form of peer review and quality control, papers can only be forwarded to the PubMed Central Life Sciences Archive after two formal peer-reviews (recommending publication) have been left by persons qualified as described above. All peer commentary and peer-reviews will be retained along with the paper when it is formally published on JOIMR.

How to leave a Peer-Review: A peer-review is entered into the "Pending Manuscripts" database in the same way as any other comment or discussion. It should be entered below the text of the relevant manuscript. Here is a template you might like to use:

REVIEW QUALIFICATION:(2 or more papers in PubMed -OR- Academic institution active/retired)
COMPETING INTERESTS: none (or as appropriate)
[put any of your own comments and observations in here]
It is my opinion that:
1. This manuscript is of a scholarly nature
2. It provides a significant contribution to the literature
3. It is not obviously incorrect or incomplete
4. It is of general interest
I believe that "the scientific community is better served by publishing .. this .. manuscript" and I unreservedly recommend that it be accepted and published.
/s/ John Doe, 12 July 2003, University of Jane Doe, California.
(put your own details and dates in the signature line)

'Associates': JOIMR has a policy that peer reviewers must not be "associated" with the author. The Advisory Board currently determines "association" in terms of "conflict of interest". An author might ask qualified acquaintances, or even co-workers, to leave peer reviews, but in order to file a peer-review a person must have nothing to gain (or lose) whether the manuscript is published or not. Without the prospect of any direct or indirect gain or loss then a reviewer has no "conflict of interest". BMJ's "Competing Interests" worksheet is an excellent informal 'aide-memoire' for reviewers.

Ultimately, peer-reviewers are trusted to declare all conflicts-of-interest which might prejudice their assessment of any manuscript. Remember - this is a public forum - unethical actions tend to linger in posterity. The Advisory Board retains sole discretion to determine whether the reviewer's recommendation might be colored by such conflicts.

You may like to read the white paper explaining peer review here at JOIMR.

JOIMR adheres to the "Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals" and its editors to the "Editorial Policy Statements" of The Council of Science Editors. JOIMR processes all papers according to quality control standards overseen by JOIMR's Advisory Board. In some cases, peer reviews may be published as appendices to the paper

PLEASE NOTE: At this point we are still working on the paperwork with PubMed Central, and the distribution agreement has not yet been signed.

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