Cases Network: The inside story – peer review 2

Following our look at the peer-review process for Cases Journal last week, now it’s time to see how it works in the Journal of Medical Case Reports (JMCR). Here you can find out exactly what is happening when a manuscript is under review.

When a manuscript is correctly formatted for JMCR, we will assign a suitable Associate Editor (AE) from our editorial board. Our AEs have a very important role in JMCR. We aim to invite an AE who specialises in the medical field relevant to the manuscript.  For JMCR we require two reviewer reports on a manuscript before a first decision is made. We ask the AE to suggest up to five appropriate peer-reviewers to assess each submission and they sometimes provide one of the two required reports themselves.

Reviewers are invited to complete a short online report. After logging in to our website reviewers confirm their ability to review and can download the manuscript. They are asked first to identify what the ‘type’ of case report is, for example, ‘unexpected or unusual presentations of a disease’ or ‘an unexpected event in the course of observing or treating a patient’. This helps us to check that each manuscript meets the criteria for JMCR.

There are then 10 quick yes/no questions (a few more than in Cases Journal) to answer:

Thinking1. Has the case been reported coherently?

2. Is the case report authentic?

3. Is the case report ethical?

4. Is there any missing information that you think must be added before publication?

5. Is this case worth reporting?

6. Is the case report persuasive?

7. Does the case report have explanatory value?

8. Does the case report have diagnostic value?

9. Will the case report make a difference to clinical practice?

10. Is the anonymity of the patient protected?

Reviewers can then provide additional comments for the authors. The reviewer is also asked to provide a statement declaring whether or not they have any competing interests.

After completing the review form and leaving any useful comments to the authors, the reviewer finally selects a recommendation for the next step:

1. Accept submission

2. Revisions required

3. Resubmit for review

4. Resubmit elsewhere

5. Decline submission

6. See comments

When two review reports have been completed for a manuscript, if any revisions are suggested by the peer-reviewers, their comments are sent to the corresponding author to allow them to submit a revised manuscript. Following this resubmission, the assigned AE is asked to make the first decision:

1. Accept

2. Send back to reviewers’ for re-review

3. Reject

Peer review decisions*Author tip* – Reviewers’ comments are very valuable to us when making editorial decisions. Be sure to address any issues they raise when revising a manuscript and explain any changes that you make, either using notes within your manuscript or in a separate cover letter.

Re-reviews, AE decisions and author revisions continue until the AE is either happy to accept the manuscript or unfortunately has to recommend that the manuscript is unsuitable for JMCR.

When an AE recommends accepting a manuscript, it is then forwarded to one of our five Deputy Editors (DE). We work very closely with the DEs and rely greatly on their contribution to the editorial process. The DE is responsible for providing a final decision: a) Accept and publish; b) Reject; c) Reject and transfer to Cases Journal; d) Major revisions; e) Minor revisions. With option (c), a manuscript can be transferred directly for publication in Cases Journal without the need for any further review.

Peer review decisions

*Author tip* – If your submitted manuscript is declined from JMCR, remember Cases Journal, where your case may be more appropriate for publication.

When this thorough review process is complete, manuscripts are passed on to a member of the editorial team for formatting and every manuscript is professionally copyedited.

Before being passed on to our production team, all manuscripts are viewed by the Editor-in-Chief, Professor Michael Kidd, to ensure that every publication in JMCR is over the best possible quality.

To find out about the final production stages before publication of manuscripts in Cases Journal and JMCR, keep watching our blog for the next in our ‘Inside Story’ series.

Cases network: The inside story

Lindsay Dytham and Richard Sear

Editorial Assistants – Cases Network

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