If you’ve read an awe-inspiring professional nursing or healthcare article, textbook chapter, or book that hit the mark on quality, accuracy, and readability and found yourself opining, “How did the author do that? I could never write something that great”—stop that thinking!

Yes, you can write something that great, because just like those scholarly authors you admire, you have the power of peer review. Peer review is the cornerstone of scholarly communication: the epitome of intentional, sincere, and intelligent skill. It may seem intimidating, but it actually equips you with a team of anonymous consultants who provide expert guidance to strengthen and refine your enduring work. What a gift!  

What Is Peer Review?

Anything with professional significance and endurability may involve a peer review approach, including journal articles, research and grant proposals, book chapters, and entire books. Scholarly journals require all articles to go through peer review, which ensures that the work is original and considers sound science, appropriate methodology, and reasonable and data-driven conclusions. Peers may also review academic or professional book chapters or entire textbooks for rigor. Without that care and attention, unvetted research, error-filled textbooks, and poorly designed grant-funded projects could lead to minor misunderstandings or significant, life-altering errors. Peer review serves as a refiner, ensuring content has integrity, quality, and safety.

Colleagues (professionals or scholars with expertise in the same field as the work they are reviewing) are the “peers” of a peer review board. Many peer reviewers have subspecialty expertise, which publishers and editors will tap for niche manuscript topics. Unsung heroes in the publishing world, peer reviewers dedicate their time and expertise to upholding discipline standards and nudging professional bodies of knowledge forward.

Typically, several peer reviewers read and analyze a manuscript to achieve diversity of thought. Sometimes they agree, and other times they offer contrasting perspectives that the author takes into consideration. The peer review process can be blind (i.e., reviewers don’t know the author’s identity) or double-blind (i.e., neither the author nor the peer reviewers know each other’s identities). Both the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing (CJON) and the Oncology Nursing Forum (ONF) have double-blind peer review processes, supporting professionalism and equity.

Why Would I Want to Be Involved in Peer Review?

Peer review benefits the reader, author, and reviewer. Readers get reassurance that the information is credible and well vetted in an age of rapidly disseminated misinformation; authors receive constructive feedback, enhancing their work’s quality and impact; and peer reviewers see new ideas and research ahead of print, further clarifying their expertise. A strong peer review process is a multifaceted win-win-win.

In a professional sense, peer review reflects our collective commitment to excellence. It is an honor to serve as a peer reviewer, just as it is an honor to receive peer review feedback. The next time you read a peer-reviewed article or book, pause and reflect. Numerous expert volunteers dedicated time and expertise, supporting both you and the author, to produce the final, polished manuscript you’re reading. It is a shining example of collaboration we easily overlook and take for granted.

Sounds Great! How Do I Sign Up?

CJON, ONF, and other academic publications are typically always looking for qualified peer reviewers—experts in your field like you, who are consistently reading about your specialty and staying up to date on new publications and knowledge. Apply today if you’re interested in joining the CJON peer review board or the ONF peer review board.

Learn More About Peer Reviewing

Find the fundamental steps for a strong peer review in ONS’s interactive peer review infographic.