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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Academic Primer Series: Key Papers About Peer Review


Introduction: Peer review, a cornerstone of academia, promotes rigor and relevance in scientificpublishing. As educators are encouraged to adopt a more scholarly approach to medical education,peer review is becoming increasingly important. Junior educators both receive the reviews of theirpeers, and are also asked to participate as reviewers themselves. As such, it is imperative for juniorclinician educators to be well-versed in the art of peer reviewing their colleagues’ work. In thisarticle, our goal was to identify and summarize key papers that may be helpful for faculty membersinterested in learning more about the peer-review process and how to improve their reviewing skills.

Methods: The online discussions of the 2016-17 Academic Life in Emergency Medicine (ALiEM)Faculty Incubator program included a robust discussion about peer review, which highlighted anumber of papers on that topic. We sought to augment this list with further suggestions by guestexperts and by an open call on Twitter for other important papers. Via this process, we created a listof 24 total papers on the topic of peer review. After gathering these papers, our authorship groupengaged in a consensus-building process incorporating Delphi methods to identify the papers thatbest described peer review, and also highlighted important tips for new reviewers.

Results: We found and reviewed 24 papers. In our results section, we present our authorshipgroup’s top five most highly rated papers on the topic of peer review. We also summarize thesepapers with respect to their relevance to junior faculty members and to faculty developers.

Conclusion: We present five key papers on peer review that can be used for faculty development fornovice writers and reviewers. These papers represent a mix of foundational and explanatory papersthat may provide some basis from which junior faculty members might build upon as they both undergothe peer-review process and act as reviewers in turn.

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