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Guidelines for Journal of Graduate Medical Education (JGME) Peer Reviewers


If you would like to become a peer reviewer for JGME, please email [email protected].


Purpose of Peer Review
JGME Peer Review Process and Conflicts of Interest
Decisions and Scores
Reviewer Confidential Comments to the Editor
Group Peer Reviews and Peer Colleague Reviews
AI Policies for Reviewers and Authors
Reviewer Checklist, Single/Group Review Worksheet
Helpful Resources
FAQs
JGME Article Categories
Reviewer Recognition

The Purpose of Peer Review

Scientific journal peer review seeks to provide the editors with objective, unbiased advice about the quality and scientific, educational, and practical value of a manuscript. Reviews offer constructive suggestions to authors for improving the quality, clarity, and organization of their manuscript. Peer review benefits authors and the journal. It also helps reviewers keep up to date in a field and improve their own research and writing skills, through reading other reviewer and editor comments.

JGME may ask reviewers to write a commentary on the manuscript if it is accepted. If you are interested in writing a commentary, add that to your note to the editor or send an email to the editorial office ([email protected]). JGME annually publishes a list of all individuals who reviewed manuscripts in the prior year and recognizes in the journal “outstanding reviewers” who have performed several high-quality

The Peer Review Process

JGME uses Editorial Manager as the system to manage the manuscript process. All manuscripts submitted to JGME undergo an initial “tech check” screening, to ensure concordance with JGME’s focus on GME and article category parameters. A senior editor then examines the manuscript for quality and alignment with JGME’s priorities. This editor decides regarding internal (desk) rejection vs external peer review. Generally, articles going for external review are reviewed independently by at least 2 peer reviewers. An additional statistics review may be requested, when needed, by reviewers or editors (reviewers should add the request in Comments to the Editor section). JGME has a statistical editor who provides rapid, comprehensive reviews if the editor deems a stats review is needed.

All reviewers are asked to declare any competing interests that might limit their ability to provide an unbiased review. Simply knowing an author does not mean that a reviewer is unable to write an objective review: medical education is a small field. All reviews are subjective—the reviewer’s perspective and informed opinion. If a reviewer believes that prior experiences are likely to interfere with an objective review, this should be disclosed to JGME and the reviewer invite declined. If a reviewer has any questions about conflicts of interest, contact [email protected] before doing the review.

A manuscript submitted for peer review is a confidential document. Reviewers do not share or discuss the manuscript or its contents with colleagues, unless doing a group review—in which case all reviewers will keep the manuscript confidential. Destroy any copies of the manuscript and related documents after the review has been completed. The article and contents are embargoed from sharing, outside of the review process, until accepted and published.

The review process for JGME is single-blind: reviewers can remain anonymous unless they choose to sign their review. Reviewers may also choose to state their perspective/background/experience at the start of their review (eg, I am an educator with research interest and experience in competency-based medical education assessment or I have the perspective of a former program director and associate dean for graduate medical education).

Reviewers provide constructive comments to authors to improve their manuscript quality and clarity or to improve authors’ future work. Reviewers should approach reviews with a nurturing attitude: think of this as a feedback conversation with a colleague. Reviewers should avoid statements that are hostile, demeaning, or refer to author traits or personalities. Comments should be conveyed in a kind, respectful, and supportive manner. The focus of comments should be solely on the manuscript. If the reviewer finds “fatal flaws” (and usually this occurs in the Methods, for research manuscripts) that cannot be improved by including additional information, clarifying the writing or organization, or changing to a different JGME article category, the reviewer may raise this concern and shift the focus to areas of future improvement, rather than how to “fix” the current manuscript.

Note that for manuscripts with typos, writing and/or grammar issues, the reviewer does not need to provide suggestions to the author in the review—unless a reviewer would like to do so. Reviewers should focus on the manuscript quality and clarity. Some reviewers enjoy adding comments to help an author’s writing, and these are welcome—but not required!

All comments or queries to the author must be numbered to make it easier for authors to respond to each comment in the author response letter.

If during the review the reviewer becomes aware that they have inadequate expertise to evaluate a particular component of the research (eg, an unfamiliar scale or outcome measure), reviewers can add a note to the editor in the Comments to the Editor section, regarding this area.

Reviewers are sent all reviews and editorial comments when the editor decision letter is sent to the author. Reading this information, as well as any subsequent decision letters to authors, can enhance reviewing and writing skills.

Decisions and Scores

Reviewers will render decision recommendations—Reject, Major Revision, Minor Revision, or Accept—which will be based on quality of the work and potential interest for JGME readers. The handling editor will render a manuscript decision based on these factors while considering other papers that have just been published or are in the pipeline for JGME, along with JGME’s priorities for the year. Generally, articles accepted for JGME will be of interest to more than one specialty, even if conducted in a single specialty, as JGME is read by all specialties.

For JGME, a minor revision is a commitment to accept the article, if all comments and queries are addressed adequately. A minor revision does not mean that there are just a small number of changes requested. Similarly, a major revision does not mean that a large number of changes are requested. For JGME, a major revision means that JGME reviewers/editors are unable to determine, without further information, whether the article should be accepted or rejected.

The online review system asks reviewers to rate the overall quality and value of the manuscript for JGME and to rate a few aspects of the manuscript. Although this is subjective—and difficult to apply to non-research papers (Perspectives, On Teaching), at this time the system will not allow you proceed without providing a score. JGME editors recommend that reviewers do their best, but not expend time on these scores.

For the overall score (51-100)
90-100 score: The manuscript under consideration is strong and likely to have strong interest for many readers.
75-89 score: The manuscript appears to have reasonable quality and potential interest for readers.
60-74 score: The manuscript addresses a topic of interest, but the quality is poor or uncertain with the information provided in this version of the manuscript.
51-59 score: The manuscript appears to be of low quality and/or low interest for readers.

For extremely novel studies or studies on topics of critical importance, a Major Revision might be considered. Otherwise, a rejection would be appropriate.

The manuscript poses a few additional questions that use a scale of 1-5 or 1-3 regarding your perspective on a few aspects of the manuscript, such as writing. Again, you must pick a score to proceed.

Reviewer Confidential Comments to Editor

In addition to comments to the author, the system provides a space for confidential comments that will be viewed only by the decision editor. If your recommendation is in between choices (eg, Major Revision vs Reject, or Minor Revision vs Major Revision), this is the space to briefly explain your thinking, or other concerns you have about the manuscript, such as writing, fit for journal, etc. If you believe the manuscript might merit a commentary and/or you would like to write a commentary, should it be accepted, these thoughts can be entered in the Comments to the Editor section as well.

Group Peer Reviews and Peer Colleague Reviews

Group Peer Review
JGME encourages group peer review as a way to broaden the peer reviewer base and to create professional development opportunities for more novice reviewers. Experienced reviewers may partner with one or more novice reviewers in a face-to-face or virtual group. The resulting “group review” should be finalized and submitted by the experienced reviewer. If the senior reviewer provides the names (and emails if possible) of the group reviewers in the Comments to the Editor section, a thank you for reviewing letter will be sent to all participants in the review.

Joint Peer Review
You may include a mentee or colleague in your review. As above, the JGME reviewer submits the final review in the system. If the name (and email) of the junior reviewer is included in the Comments to the Editor section, a thank you for reviewing letter will be sent to the assisting reviewer.

For Both Group and Joint Peer Reviews
The principal reviewer is expected to clarify the confidential nature of manuscripts and discuss potential conflicts of interest with the additional individual(s).

As the more experienced reviewer, you may also disclose to JGME editorial staff ([email protected]) when you believe a mentee or peer review group member has gained sufficient experience to function as an independent peer reviewer. Send a message to [email protected] or add to the Comments to the Editor section.

Additional Resources for Group Peer Review:


Artificial Intelligence (AI) Guidelines

AI Policy for Reviewers
There are potential benefits to the use of AI tools in reviewing manuscripts, such as reduced reviewer time. However, currently the potential benefits are outweighed by the problems: lack of clarity of language model training data, potential biases, privacy and confidentiality concerns, and reproducibility. Sharing the author’s work with AI breaks the embargo (confidentiality) for the manuscript, as this work is owned by authors who have not given permission for the contents to be shared. At present it is difficult or impossible to prevent AI tools from continuing to use the author’s work (eg, for ongoing AI training), and this is considered theft of property by JGME. This policy is likely to evolve rapidly.

  1. Reviewers may not use AI tools to review manuscripts except if they choose to employ grammar, spelling, references, or plagiarism checking tools, which do not need to be noted.
  2. Use of AI tools by reviewers violates the anonymity of the author’s submission and the author’s ownership of the work.
  3. For any questions, email [email protected].

These policies align with the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and the Committee on Publication Ethics.


AI Policy for Authors
Authors must be human and accept accountability for all aspects of their work; JGME authors confirm this responsibility. Authors must confirm they have disclosed any use of AI tools (aside from spellcheck, reference organization, grammar checks) in the Methods section (or Acknowledgements, for Perspectives, On Teaching, or other non-research papers). Complete transparency is the rule. See JGME’s AI Policy for more details and report any concerns or questions to the editor.

Reviewer Checklist, Single/Group Review Worksheet

Reviewers are encouraged to use the Reviewer Checklist and Single/Group Review Worksheet.

Helpful Resources

Tips for Reviewing


Doing Group Reviews


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I know whether I have a conflict of interest or a competing interest for a manuscript I have been invited to review? The review form asks about competing interests that might bias a reviewer’s opinion of a manuscript. If your experience with authors or any aspect of the manuscript work is likely to affect your objective review of the work, you should decline to review the manuscript.

Conflicts and competing interests exist in many contexts, including close personal relationships; professional differences; political or religious beliefs; financial ties (payment for research, ownership of stock and options, honoraria for consultations, speaking engagements); academic and institutional affiliations; and other factors. Reviewers should assess whether any of these factors are likely to affect the goal: a fair, helpful, objective review of the manuscript.

If you are unsure if an issue rises to the level of a conflict of interest, contact [email protected].

How will JGME inform me of the decision on a manuscript for which I completed a review? A copy of the decision letter, including the comments from all peer reviewers, will be shared with you when a decision has been made and a letter is sent to the authors. Reading the editor’s comments and those of the other reviewer(s) can provide important feedback on your review.

I want learners to assist me in a peer review as a learning opportunity. Does JGME allow “group peer reviews” or “joint peer reviews,” with mentees assisting with a review?

Group Peer Review
JGME encourages group peer review as a way to broaden the peer reviewer base, to create professional development opportunities for more novice reviewers, and to create a sense of community among educators. Experienced reviewers can partner with one or more novice reviewers in a face-to-face or virtual group. The resulting “group review” should be finalized and submitted by the experienced reviewer. If the senior reviewer provides the names (and emails if possible) of the group reviewers in the Comments to the Editor section, a thank you for reviewing letter will be sent to all participants in the review.

Joint Peer Review
You may include a mentee or colleague in your review. As above, the JGME reviewer submits the final review in the system. If the name (and email) of the junior reviewer is included in the Comments to the Editor section, a thank you for reviewing letter will be sent to the assisting reviewer.

For both Group and Joint peer reviews, the principal reviewer is expected to clarify the confidential nature of manuscripts and discuss potential conflicts of interest with the additional reviewing individual(s).

As the more experienced review member, you may also disclose to JGME editorial staff ([email protected]) when you believe a mentee or peer review group member has gained sufficient experience to function as an independent peer reviewer.

Additional resources about Group Peer Review:


What should I do if I want to review a given manuscript but I can’t make the return deadline in the invitation? If the additional time required is just a few days or a week, please agree to review the manuscript and indicate to the editorial staff ([email protected]) that you will submit the review slightly late. Similarly, if you have already agreed to review a manuscript and experience a problem with the deadline, please use the JGME reminder email to let journal staff know that you will submit the review somewhat late. We understand that work and personal time conflicts are not always predictable.

Additional questions not covered in the FAQ may be addressed to the editorial staff at [email protected].

JGME Article Categories

Original Research
Studies of graduate medical education (GME) curricula, evaluation, teaching methods, or settings, with a usual limit of 2500 words (3500 words for qualitative research). Original research articles will use robust methods and may represent education research, program evaluation, quality improvement, implementation science, and other disciplines. Research articles require the JGME structured abstract and should follow the Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions JGME format.

Educational Innovation
New approaches in medical education, with a usual limit of 2000 words. Educational Innovation manuscripts should answer the question: Should this innovation be tried in other settings or disciplines? Submissions require the JGME structured abstract and article format/organization. Educational innovations do not have to be successful; manuscripts may report on approaches that should not be tried.

Brief Report
Concerns areas of current strong interest in GME but may concern less robust methods, fewer subjects or iterations, single programs, or highly novel new approaches that should be disseminated. The usual word count is 1200 words. Sample sizes may be smaller, and results may be preliminary or self-reported. These articles use the JGME structured abstract and article format/organization.

Review
Reviews may use any framework (systematic, narrative or qualitative, scoping, realist, state-of-the-art, meta-ethnographic, theoretical critical, etc) and must state the framework for the literature synthesis. The typical word count is 3000 words. A JGME structured abstract is required.

Perspective
Expert opinion and evidence used to reach new insights, suggest urgent research initiatives, or recommend new approaches to issues of broad interest to the GME community. The average word count is 1200 words. There is no abstract or structured format.

On Teaching
Personal essays or stories, poems, cartoons, or graphic medicine, with a variable word length (typically 1200 words). These articles may speak to the experience of teaching, learning, or other aspects of the physician experience in GME, and will be of interest to multiple specialties. Both educators and learners submit articles for this category. There is no abstract or structured format.

Reviewer Recognition

JGME annually publishes a list of all individuals who reviewed manuscripts in the prior year. JGME also recognizes “outstanding reviewers” each year who have performed several high-quality reviews with recognition in the journal and certificate/letter.

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