Becoming an Author- Part 2: The Peer Review Process

PART 2

We at Next Steps are very excited to announce that the Executive Editor of our media partner, the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, will be providing expert advice and tips on getting published. Karin Beehler, who has over 25 years of publishing experience, will share her extensive knowledge and expertise with our Next Steps readers in this 3-part series.

Peer review process

  • Triage review – direct reject, does the paper warrant full peer review?
  • Independent reviewers give recommendations
  • Peer-review takes time
  • If the manuscript is rejected, the journal would like to provide helpful constructive criticism to help to improve the manuscript

During the peer-review process, submissions are reviewed by a panel of experts from the editorial board who decide the priority and whether the manuscript should be directly accepted or rejected. If the manuscript is determined to warrant a full peer-review, independent reviewers who are experts on the particular topic are chosen to be invited.

Reviewers who are invited to review the manuscript may decide to accept or decline. Securing the reviewers for the manuscript is the part of the process that takes the most time as reviewers are very busy and their work is done on a volunteer basis, as part of their dedication and participation as mentors in the field.

Reviewers may decline to review a manuscript if the topic does not interest them or if it seems too redundant or proprietary. They may decline if they do not feel they have the ability to give a fair review because the topic is outside their field of expertise. If they have a conflict of interest, they may recuse themselves or request the manuscript be reassigned to another reviewer.

If the reviewer accepts the invitation, they are given 2-3 weeks to assess the manuscript, score the quality in terms of timeliness, length, priority, and whether the data supports the conclusions. The reviewers are invited to make confidential comments to the editor or comments to the authors on how to revise or improve their manuscript before acceptance.

The reviewer makes a decision recommendation and returns the reviewer form to the journal office. Sometimes reviewers may disagree and return conflicting comments, in which case, additional reviewers may be assigned and additional time for review may be necessary.

Once the input from assigned reviewers is complete, the editor makes a final decision based on the input from the reviewers and sends the official decision notification to the corresponding author.

Handling rejection (my research was rejected, now what?)

  • Submit to another journal
  • Address the comments from the reviewers to improve the paper
  • Ask if ok to resubmit after modification
  • Appeal the decision

If your manuscript is declined, you may be asked to make improvements and resubmit a revised version. You may be asked to expand the patient criteria, include additional experiments, shorten the Methods, shorten the Discussion, eliminate tables or figures that are not needed, or make the manuscript more concise. The manuscript may be provisionally accepted pending the revisions or additional review may be required after the revisions are made.

If the manuscript is officially rejected, you are then free to submit to another journal that may be more suitable. Reviewers may even offer suggestions on where the manuscript would be likely accepted. In any case, if the reviewers have offered criticisms, it would benefit your chances of acceptance if you take the time to make the suggested improvements.

If you disagree with the reasons for the rejection, you may ask to appeal the decision. Most journals will honor a written appeal that explains the reasons for the disagreement and assign the manuscript to new, independent reviewers. The journal may reverse the decision or ask you to resubmit the manuscript de novo.

Journals may receive hundreds of submissions per year and may only be able to accept a certain percentage of original, review, or case-report manuscript types in each volume. You may want to inquire about the acceptance rate or a particular journal before investing the time to submit.

Getting your research cited

  • Check if the journal is an official ISI journal
  • Content published in JDD is exported to PubMed
  • Make sure Abstract contains common search words needed to search and retrieve
  • Promote your own research

Once your article has been published, the next step is to make sure it gets the attention it deserves. If the journal you submit to is an official ISI journal, the title, authors, and abstract will be submitted to PubMed Central for indexing and will be searchable. The citations to your article will be trackable via PubMed.

It is important to make sure your title and abstract contain enough information for researchers to successfully search and retrieve your article on PubMed or via publicly available search engines for use in their own research and citations. Be sure not to use abbreviations and jargon that may lower the chances of your article being found using common search terms.

If the journal is not an official PubMed title, that does not mean you cannot cite the article in your own research or that others can’t cite it. As long as your article is published and has a page number, it can be cited.

Impact factor measures the number of times an article is cited and is commonly used to evaluate the importance of an article in the knowledge base. The journal impact factor is based on how many times the published articles are cited in a 2-year period. It is beneficial to authors to cite their own research in other publications as this improves their own publication impact factor as well as the journal’s impact factor.

Check the journal’s policy on whether you may also post a public version of your manuscript on your own website or a link or whether you may include the article in your institution’s repository. This may help draw-in more readers and promote your article to others who may be interested in or researching the same topic.

Join us for the final part of this 3-Part series where Karin Beehler, Executive Editor of the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, will be sharing Pro-Tips for Submission and Acceptance in Peer-Review Journals.