The Joyous Privilege of Peer Reviewing

Mysteries of Publishing

I have served as a peer reviewer for several journals for almost all of the 58 years of my academic career. I consider peer reviewing a joyous privilege, albeit sometimes a bit of a burden.

Joyous privilege is in being at least a small part of shaping what gets published. I have developed a set of “standard” comments that I, of course, tailor to each manuscript that I am invited to review. Some of these comments are:


  • Note that a mark of scholarship is adherence to the author guidelines for the journal to which the manuscript is submitted.
  • Never, never submit a manuscript to two or more journals at the same time (unless an opinion piece meant to be widely disseminated and identified as such).
  • Never, never submit a manuscript that has been declined for publication in one journal to another journal without revising in keeping with the peer reviewer comments from the first journal.
  • Do not anthropomorphize inanimate objects. For example, do not write “The study found” but instead write something such as “Study findings revealed..” or “Researchers reported…”
  • Note that data is a plural word; write data were, not data was.
  • Do not use the term “research studies” as the two words are redundant. Instead, use research or studies.
  • Do not the term “and impacted upon.” Instead, use a word such as “influence.”


  • Indicate how informed consent of participants was documented in the ethical considerations section.
  • Do not name the city or hospitals in which the data were collected, so to protect the privacy of participants.
  • Do not name the university or other institution from which ethics committee approval was obtained. State only that ethics committee approval was obtained from a university and/or whatever other organization is relevant.
  • Note that data cannot be both confidential and anonymous. If the investigators know the identity of the research participants, the data are considered confidential. If the investigators cannot possibly know the identity of any research participants, the data can be considered anonymous.


  • It is unclear why the paper is not a report of the larger study (when the report is identified as one part of a larger study, such as the qualitative or quantitative portions of a mixed method study)
  • Please be advised that “salami slicing” of research is not appropriate. See Overlapping Publications guidance of the ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors). See also the editorial on salami slicing and self-plagiarism in the August 2008 issue of Research in Nursing and Health, and the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
  • Please do not submit manuscripts that include content that is considered self-plagiarism. See 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
  • Instruments must be fully described. Include number and type of items, examples of items, rating scales, score calculations, range of possible scores, and interpretation of scores. Reliability and validity data must be given, including reliability for the study sample and validity for the study population.
  • The conceptual framework presented in this paper should be labeled a theoretical framework or a theory, so to avoid confusion with the term conceptual framework when used to refer to more abstract and general works, such as Roy’s adaptation model and Orem’s self-care framework.
  • The contribution of this study to the advancement of distinctive nursology knowledge is not clear, given the heavy reliance on work from other disciplines. Consider situating the topic of the study or, at a minimum, discuss the study results within the context of a nursology conceptual model or theory, so to firmly establish the contribution of your work to the advancement of nursology knowledge.
  • Please situate the topic of the study or, at a minimum, discuss the study results within the context of a nursology conceptual model or theory, so to firmly establish the contribution of this paper to the advancement of nursology knowledge.
  • The contribution of this study to the advancement of distinctive nursology knowledge is not evident, given the lack of mention of the nursology conceptual model or theory that guided the study.


Perhaps I regard peer reviewing as a joyous privilege and hardly ever a burden due to my passion for the possibilities inherent in each manuscript to evolve EXPLICIT knowledge of the use of nursology conceptual models and nursology theories as guides for nursology research and practice. Perhaps I hold the fantasy that my comments about nursology knowledge as the ONLY basis for nursology research and practice will encourage all nursologists worldwide to “think nursology.” Perhaps, too, that my comments will encourage all nursologists to understand that it is impossible to think atheoretically.


Peer reviewing also can be a burden, although for me only when the invitation comes at a time of the peak of other responsibilities, such as the current time of serving as interim chair of my department and interim graduate program director. During such peak times, I sometimes have to regretfully decline the peer review invitation.


I do not expect to be paid for peer reviewing (see the recent article addressing this issue on June 13, 2022 on the “Inside Higher Ed” blog.

I appreciate being listed as a peer reviewer in annual lists published in some journals.

I strongly encourage all nursologists to donate their time, energy, and perspectives to disciplinary service as journal peer reviewers. Diversity of perspectives seen in peer reviewer comments will only strengthen our knowledge.

Our series of posts “Mysteries of Publishing” addresses the the process of communicating the knowledge of the discipline through the scholarly journals and books of the discipline. Contemporary nursing scholars are actively involved in developing ideas that will begin to appear in the nursing literature in the months and years to come. This series explains how that happens!

6 thoughts on “The Joyous Privilege of Peer Reviewing

  1. Thank you for sharing your commonly used comments. I save all my peer reviews and someday I think I’ll analyze them to find my own patterns and how they have changed from my first peer review as a graduate student until now. I especially appreciate your comments about contributions to nurses and nursology. Recently, I reviewed some articles in which the only mention of nurses is that they can take what was learned from the study and use it to “assess” patients. That would be fine if the author elaborated on the conceptual or operational meanings of assessment, how that practice behavior has changed as a result of the increased use of technology, how nurses’ assessments may be different then those of other health professionals, etc. But unfortunately, what it often meant is that nurses can administer a screening tool (without discussing how nurses contend with the results of said screening or the impact of more and more “screenings” on nurses’ already busy practices). Perhaps we need more nurses with an active clinical practice to serve as peer reviewers as well; their insights about the “implications for nursing practice” may be especially insightful and valuable!

    • Thank you for your comment. Your point about the meaning of so-called nursing implications for practice is very important, especially if researchers really want their findings applied in practice. I fully support the suggestion of including practicing nurses as peer reviewers — perhaps as “special” reviewers as we sometimes do with statistical reviews.

  2. Thank you for this informative blog post Jacqui. As a new nurse scholar, I both learn from the process of reviewing and being reviewed! It is such an important skill to have, and helps our disciplinary knowledge advance.

Leave a Reply