Frequently asked questions about becoming a reviewer
Below are the sorts of question we are often asked about becoming a reviewer. We hope the answers are helpful.
Q. How many reviewers examine a submitted article and can I see what another reviewer has written?
The number of reviewers assigned to an article varies, but it is usually two. With continuing professional development (CPD) articles, there is typically a clinical reviewer and an educational reviewer. In complex articles, for instance associated with research, or where first reviews markedly diverge on the merits of a work, a third review may be requested from an experienced reviewer. You will usually learn the recommendation, such as ‘minor revision’, of another reviewer but see only a summary of their critique when you come to review a resubmitted article.
Q. What form should my assessment of the article take?
You will electronically submit a report using a template form, covering important areas of each article. This varies slightly, depending for example on whether the article is a CPD submission. In addition, the editor welcomes annotations on the script itself, indicating where corrections or adjustments may be necessary, but you are not required to copy edit work.
Q. What recommendations are available to me?
You can recommend rejection or acceptance of the article, or indicate that the piece needs to be resubmitted with minor or major revision. Where possible, the original reviewers are asked to review a subsequent submission of the revised work.
Q. Will my review be anonymous?
Most RCNi journals operate with anonymous, or double-blind, review of the author’s work, by which the reviewers do not know the identities of the authors and the authors do not know those of the reviewers. Some, such as Nursing Children and Young People, however require disclosure of a reviewer’s identity.
Q. To whom will I provide commentary on the work reviewed?
The author sees a copy of your review report and any text annotations. There is a section of the review form that is only seen by the editor so you can make confidential remarks there.
Q. Am I paid a fee for review work completed?
A fee is paid for each review completed, with slightly different fee levels depending on the type of article. For the latest rates, email administration manager Helen Hyland.
Q. How much guidance should I provide to the author?
Where you think the work has significant merit but the author has had problems expressing their ideas or structuring their article, it is important to indicate how the work can be improved. Itemising suggested improvements in your report can help them submit a better, second version of their article but you are not required to coach them on details of their work.
Q. What happens when I recommend publication of the article?
The editor considers reviewers' recommendations first and then communicates with the author. Importantly, there may be some discrete adjustments still to be made in the work, even after acceptance, which members of the editorial or production teams will discuss with the author.
Q. Can I ask the advice of the editor?
Yes, but the editor seeks your independent assessment of work received. It may be valuable however to clarify with the editor any points of journal policy that are unclear or details about the readership. You are the editor’s adviser and they will not want to make a decision on your behalf.
Q. What if I disagree with the author’s perspective and find that the article is otherwise cogently arranged and well expressed?
As a reviewer, you serve the interests of the journal and its readership. You are required to conduct your review impartially, judging the completeness, cogency and robustness of the article. Where you differ with the author on a subject as a matter of opinion, you should respect the well ordered expression of other arguments and positions in nursing. If you find yourself contemplating what ‘should’ be written, it is important to question whether this is a matter of opinion, a school of thought or an issue associated with evidence and ethical practice.
Judgement about the adequacy of evidence is different. You are encouraged to examine the adequacy of a research or other project design, data and other forms of evidence, and to challenge unethical practice or that which appears to contravene the code and standards of nursing.
Become a reviewer
To become a reviewer for articles in our journal, please contact the journal editor.