JBJS Consultant Reviewer Guidelines
Revised November 7, 2013
Note: The guidelines below refer only to reviews performed for The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. Please refer to the below links for the reviewer guidelines from the other journals in the JBJS product line:
Confidential high quality Reviews that are useful to authors and editors ensure that The JBJS continues to serve the international orthopaedic community of readers as the premier orthopaedic journal.
Content review is conducted by Consultant Reviewers, Guest Reviewers, and the Boards of Associate Editors. Consultant Reviewers are orthopaedic surgeons or physicians or scientists from other disciplines who possess special expertise and who have demonstrated their willingness to perform timely thorough manuscript reviews for JBJS. Guest Reviewers have special experience or knowledge on a specific topic. The Board of Associate Editors is composed of Consultant Reviewers, who are selected on the basis of their interest and skill in the peer review process. The Associate Editors are appointed to a three-year term by the Editor-in-Chief. Associate Editors attend Workshops to discuss controversial manuscripts and review a larger number of manuscripts annually.
Methodologic review is conducted for papers that have a favorable content review and are considered for publication. The methodologic reviews are performed by the Deputy Editors for Methodology and Biostatistics or Consultant Reviewers for methodology. The Deputy Editors for Methodology and Biostatistics have expertise in key methodologic areas such as epidemiology, biostatistics, outcomes research, cost-effectiveness analysis, technology evaluation and health policy analyses.
This document describes the peer review process at The JBJS. It provides an overview of the process and information on how to review a manuscript for The JBJS.
The JBJS Peer Review Process: Overview
- An Author submits a manuscript to The JBJS
- The Editor-in-Chief assigns the manuscript to a Deputy Editor, who reviews the manuscript and recommends (based on manuscript quality and editorial priorities) to either "Reject Without Review", or to request peer review. "Reject Without Review" decisions are made by the Editor-in-Chief and the Deputy Editor.
- The Deputy Editor invites Consultant Reviewers, Associate Editors and/or Guest Reviewers to review the manuscript.
- The Reviewers review the manuscript.
- The Deputy Editor collates the Reviews in a Decision Letter for the Author, and recommends: (a) revision (major or minor) based on the Reviews; (b) rejection as supported by the Reviews; (c) acceptance as supported by the Reviews
- The Editor-in-Chief makes a final decision based on editorial priorities, manuscript quality, Reviews, and additional input from Deputy Editor(s) as indicated.
- The decision letter is sent to the Author.
- When the Author submits a revised manuscript, it may be sent back to the Reviewers for their comments regarding whether the Author has addressed their concerns, and to a Statistics and Methodology Editor for Methodologic Review.
How to Review a Manuscript for The JBJS
- Do not rush to accept an invitation to review. First, read the invitation, as the Editor may include information specific to this review that will help you decide whether to accept. Next, consider whether you have time to complete the review before the deadline, whether you are familiar enough with the content area and/or methods to provide a high quality review that will be useful to the Editors and the Author, and whether you have any potential conflicts of interest. If you have any concerns, you should contact the Deputy Editor at this point (if you reply to the invitation e-mail, your concerns will be forwarded to the appropriate Deputy Editor). If you decide to accept, please do so by the accept/decline deadline provided in the e-mail. If you decide to decline, please do so promptly so that an invitation can be issued to another Consultant Reviewer. Occasionally declining to review a manuscript is understandable, and is not viewed negatively by JBJS.
- Protect enough time to provide the review prior to the review submission deadline. The time spent reviewing a manuscript varies with the manuscript and the reviewer; novice reviewers will need 2-4 hours to complete a good review.
- Keep the content of the manuscript confidential. Maintain the same standards you would like others to abide by when reviewing your work. Be aware of "subliminal integration" – subconsciously using information contained in a manuscript you have reviewed.
- Follow a systematic procedure to review the manuscript, and to write your review. Please see below for The JBJS Instructions for Reviewing Manuscripts.
- Submit your review within the deadline (20 days for initial submissions, 14 for revised submissions). If you will not be able to complete your review in time, please contact JBJS immediately. We will let you know if a delay is acceptable. If a review has not been returned by the due date, you will receive an e-mail from JBJS as a reminder. You may also receive an e-mail reminder before your review is due. Please do not misunderstand this policy. JBJS is indebted to and appreciative of all of our reviewers, and we could not function without you. However, as authors yourselves, you know the frustration resulting from a delayed decision. Returning reviews promptly is one important way in which you can help us speed the editorial process.
- Read the comments made by other Consultant Reviewers when the Editor forwards them to you. This allows you to assess your own performance. You are also encouraged to ask the Deputy Editor for feedback about your work. Consultant Reviewers performance is evaluated by the Editor and the Deputy Editors, and kept in a confidential database. Consultant Reviewers are graded on a scale of 0-100 and the grades Reviewers receive are averaged for an overall grade. Reviewer status is evaluated with subsequent reviews, and can be lowered on the basis of the following factors: 1) does not respond to invitations to review; 2) declines the majority of invitations to review; 3) takes 40 days or more to provide a review; 4) never provides a review after accepting an invitation to review; 5) consistently returns an inadequate review; 6) provides a biased review that is not objective. Editors' notes regarding the reviewer's performance are made on their record in the database. Reviewers with consistently low scores are removed from the database.
Instructions for Reviewing Manuscripts
- Make your review as objective and evidence-based as possible.
- Search the literature for systematic reviews on the same topic. The dropdown menu under "Action Links" on the "Pending Reviewer Assignments" page in JBJS Editorial Manager provides 4 different ways for you to search the literature using keywords and the title of the article (MEDLINE, Google Scholar, PubMed and OVID).
- The Cochrane Library is a great resource for healthcare interventions (www.thecochranelibrary.com).
- The CONSORT statement is a useful tool for reviewing randomized trials (www.consort-statement.org/consort-statement/).
- Submissions reporting cohort, case-control and cross-sectional studies should conform to the format suggested by the STROBE panel (www.strobe-statement.org).
- Always provide constructive criticism. The Authors have likely put a huge amount of time and energy into their work. Disparaging or derogatory comments are not helpful. Comments should focus on the manuscript and not on the individual(s) who wrote it.
- The review process allows you to enter comments in two fields: 1) a field for comments that are likely to be sent to the corresponding author, and 2) a separate field for comments intended primarily for the Editor or Deputy Editor that will not necessarily be transmitted to the author.
- Do not spend a lot of time correcting language, grammar or spelling. If errors in these areas interfere with the overall message, make a general comment to this effect. If a specific error confuses a point, make a specific comment. Otherwise, leave copy editing to the excellent JBJS Copy Editors.
- Your review should support your recommendation (Accept (A), Minor Revision (B), Major Revision (C+), Reject (C). Please see Recommended Decision, below, for details. In general, it is often possible to revise a C+ manuscript to make it suitable for publication; if the method is irretrievably flawed and the study would have to be repeated to redeem a manuscript, it should be rejected.
- Structure of your Review.
- Summary. Summarize the manuscript in a short paragraph before providing your comments. The most common reason for Authors to disagree with reviews is that they feel misunderstood by Reviewers. Your summary helps the Editors and Authors judge whether you understood the work. In your own words, include:
- What was the research question? In other words, what were the authors trying to accomplish in their study?
- What was the research method? In other words, how did they attempt to answer their question?
- General comments. Answer the following questions in this section, as appropriate.
- Is the Introduction appropriate and unbiased?
- Do you think that the Method was appropriate for the research question? (The Methodology and Statistics Editor will provide a detailed review of the method & statistical analysis.)
- Follow-up. It is standard JBJS policy to require a minimum of 2 years of follow-up on all patients when the results of a reconstructive procedure are the subject of the paper. This policy lessens the risk of dissemination of faulty information that may lead to the widespread application of procedures that prove, over time, to be of little or no value. The authors should clearly identify patients with less than two years of follow-up and avoid drawing any conclusions based on this group. Be aware also of the "average time of follow-up": three patients with three years of follow-up combined with three patients with one year of follow-up does not result in "two years of follow-up on all patients." This two-year follow-up policy is not always appropriate. For example, you would expect fractures to be healed by one year. Waiting for a two-year follow-up would be required when restoration of function is the prime concern.
- Do you think the findings, as presented in Results, Tables and Figures, answered the question? Do the Results correspond to the study objectives and capabilities?
- Does the Discussion put the findings in context? Is it balanced? Is the interpretation of the results viewed within the boundaries of the study limitations? Did the Authors acknowledge the limitations of the study?
- Are the Conclusions supported by the findings?
- Does this article contain information that clinicians, policy makers, patients and/or the public need to know?
- Are the findings new? Impactful? Confirmatory?
- Is the paper clearly written?
- What are the main strengths and limitations of the study?
- Do you think this study should be published?
- Specific comments. In this section, provide a detailed listing by separate, numbered paragraphs (with page and line reference) of specific concerns, including errors, lack of clarity, etc. Avoid extensive copy editing (correcting grammar, spelling, syntax, etc.) If you are recommending Reject, limit your Specific Comments as these are primarily intended to help the Authors with a revision. Please comment on the organizational structure of the paper, as indicated:
- The Title. Does it clearly describe the subject and purpose of the paper?
- The Abstract. Is it succinct? Does it accurately reflect the Method, Results and Conclusions?
- Methods & Results. Do these sections provide appropriate information?
- Tables: Tables are useful if they contain information that cannot be easily summarized in the text. Tables are seldom useful for listing one category of information. Are the tables all necessary, or is the information also given in the text? Could several tables be combined? Are clarifications or additional columns needed? Please suggest changes if you believe they are indicated. Do you have suggestions that would present the information more clearly?
- Figures. Illustrations require a great deal of space. Are they all appropriate and necessary? If not, which ones would you delete? Are the legends adequate?
- References: Is the bibliography complete or excessive? If incomplete, provide citations that you think are relevant.
- Recommended decision. Manuscripts should be classified into one of four general categories, which appear in a pull-down menu in Editorial Manager's reviewer recommendation screen. Don't forget to choose your decision before pasting your comments into the text boxes. We realize that not all manuscripts fit neatly into categories; however, most manuscripts will fit into one of these categories:
- An "A" paper is completely suitable for JBJS and will be valued by JBJS readers. It is educational and informative. An "A" paper contains all of the information needed to justify its conclusions and message. It should be published provided it also receives a satisfactory methodologic review and that revisions suggested by both content and methodologic reviews are made and the questions raised by the reviewers are answered. The content may need some revision or restructuring.
- A "B" paper is of value to JBJS readers but has flaws that must be remedied before being accepted. Much of the information concerning "A" papers is applicable here. The essential difference between the "A" and "B" paper is that the material is not complete in the "B" paper. More data or a more detailed description is needed, or more analysis of the data must be provided. The content of the manuscript is of interest and should be subject to methodologic review, and the content reviewer believes that whatever is missing can be provided by the authors.
- A paper is given a "C+" when the manuscript in its existing form is of interest to The Journal's readership but there are serious concerns about the manuscript. The invitation to revise with a C+ decision does not imply the paper will be accepted after revision. The author is invited to resubmit the paper for re-review if he or she is able to address these concerns. The assigned Deputy Editor has discretion for deciding whether to obtain a methodologic review for this category of papers.
- A "C" paper should not be published in JBJS. The subject matter is not suitable for JBJS or the content is not of significant educational value. The reviewer must believe strongly that his or her reservations concerning the manuscript are valid and that the authors cannot correct the deficiencies. Before assigning a "C" classification, the Reviewer should be convinced that the manuscript is not suitable. List two or three major reasons why you believe the manuscript should be rejected. If you are convinced that a manuscript should be rejected, it is neither necessary nor desirable to write as detailed a review as is needed when the author is being asked to revise the paper. Be objective and especially careful not to write pejorative comments when rendering a "C" decision.
Correspondence to Authors
After all reviews have been received, the Editor or Deputy Editor will compose a letter to the corresponding author. The purposes of that letter are to inform the author of the decision, and at the same time provide the author with instructive feedback. While the Reviewers' comments to the author are often directly quoted in the decision letter, the Editor or Deputy Editor may also, on occasion, paraphrase in the letter comments that a Reviewer has directed to the Editor.