The Peer Review Process: What to Expect

Have you considered submitting a manuscript to the Journal of Physician Assistant Education (JPAE) or some other scholarly journal, but weren’t sure how it all works? Would you feel more comfortable if you knew what to expect? Well, here’s a step-by-step explanation of the process.

Step 1 – Submission
All articles submitted to JPAE must go through the Editorial Manager portal, managed by our publisher Wolters Kluwer. Along with your manuscript and any tables and figures, you will be asked to complete a copyright transfer agreement and state any possible conflicts of interest. Once submitted, your manuscript will be assigned a number with all information relating to it organized in one file. This is how we keep track of your manuscript throughout the entire review and publication process.

Step 2 – Peer Review: Research and Special Articles
All manuscripts submitted to the journal are reviewed first by the editor in chief. Manuscripts considered appropriate for peer review are then reviewed by independent expert peer reviewers. Only Research and Special articles go through official blinded peer review. Brief Reports and feature articles are reviewed by the journal’s assigned feature editor.

JPAE uses a double-blind peer review process, which means that both the author’s identity as well as the reviewer’s identity are blinded. We believe this provides for more integrity by having reviewers judging only on the article content — not the author, and it allows for the reviewers, who are anonymous, to be more honest in their reviews without undue concern about upsetting a colleague. Typically, three peer reviewers are assigned to each article and are given 15 days to complete the review and make their recommendation.

Step 2a – Statistical Review
All manuscripts submitted as Research and Brief Report articles are subject to review by the journal’s statistical editor, if deemed necessary by the editor in chief.

Step 3 – Revisions
A decision regarding acceptance, revision, or rejection will be sent to the corresponding author within 10 weeks of receipt of their manuscript by the editorial staff. Typically, manuscripts are returned to the author with a recommendation for either a major or minor revision. Specific suggestions and comments from the peer reviewers are provided to help with the revision. It’s not unusual for a manuscript to require more than one revision before a decision is made regarding acceptability for publication. What is rare is for a manuscript to be accepted on the first try. In fact, in eight years of working on the journal, I only know of two manuscripts that were accepted without any revisions required.

It is recommended that authors submit revised manuscripts within six months. After a revised article has been accepted, it is put in the queue for publication. Please note that, due to a robust pipeline, it can take 9–12 months for articles to be published. This timeline is in line with most other scholarly journals.

Step 4 – Publication
Once an article has been scheduled for publication, the author is notified, and the article is edited by journal staff. It is then sent to the corresponding author with edits in track changes for review and to address any queries. After the article is in final form, it is sent to our publisher for layout. Then shortly before it goes to print, the laid-out article proof is sent to the author for one last review and approval prior to publication.

When it comes to peer review, the best way to view the process is as a way to make your article the best it can be — because that’s what’s happening.

If you still have questions about peer review or about submitting an article in general, please feel free to contact either Dave Asprey, editor in chief, or me, Libby Alesbury, managing editor, and we’ll be happy to help guide you toward that publishing finish line.