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RNJ Corner: Peer Reviewer and Authors

Peer review is the foundation of publication in scholarly journals. The quality of an article is only strengthened through a rigorous double-blind peer-review process. Double-blind peer review means the reviewers don't know who the authors are, and the authors do not know who the reviewers are. The editor is the only one who knows both the author(s) and the reviewers. Rehabilitation Nursing Journal (RNJ) reviewers number close to 100 and are most likely to be Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) members. In addition there are a fair number of reviewers who are not ARN members who are experts in their fields and volunteer their time to RNJ.

Tips for Reviewers and Authors

A peer review requires expertise and a hefty dose of common sense. Here are some ideas that might be helpful to you as a reviewer and to you as an author before submitting your manuscript.

Take a Step Back

First, read the entire manuscript. Leave it for a couple of days and then re-read it line by line. Initially, you want to look at the “big picture” or the whole of the paper before getting into specifics. Basic first questions to ask yourself include:

  • Does the paper “hang” together from the abstract to the conclusion? In other words, is it clear what the purpose of the paper and/or study is from beginning to end?
  • Is the paper clear and concise?
  • Is there a connection between the paper and rehabilitation nursing practice?

It’s easy to pick out the grammar or sentence structure errors in a paper, and sometimes as reviewers and authors, that’s the trap we fall into. Most of the time, those issues can be easily fixed. The harder job is to look at the article as a whole to see if it makes sense.


If you do see grammatical errors, syntax issues, or incomplete sentences in the manuscript while reviewing, one comment is all that is needed—something like, “this paper has a significant number of grammatical errors/sentence structure issues/syntax errors.” As a reviewer, don’t take the time to address each error. However, if you are the author, now is the time to correct these issues.

Pairing Appropriate Reviewers to Manuscripts

Peer reviewers evaluate the contribution that a manuscript might make, i.e., the importance, novelty, and accuracy of its contents. Upon manuscript submission, RNJ tries to pair manuscripts with reviewers who have similar content expertise or research methodology focus. It’s unlikely that a bachelor’s-prepared clinician, responsible for staff and patient education on a rehab unit, would receive a systematic review to critique unless the reviewer had identified systematic review expertise in his or her profile. Note: Systematic reviews are a type of literature review that uses organized methods to collect secondary data, critically appraise research studies, and synthesize findings qualitatively or quantitatively. That’s why it is so important that each reviewer identify their content and research expertise on the reviewer profile to ensure a quality review. RNJ needs a match between the manuscript and the reviewer.

Would you like to become a peer reviewer for RNJ?

If you’d like to become an RNJ reviewer, please fill out an application during ARN’s call for volunteers. Though the call is not currently open, you can learn more about this and other volunteer opportunities.


  • ARN member in good standing
  • published author
  • baccalaureate degree

General Information

RNJ reviewers are assigned manuscripts to review by the editor and associate editor. RNJ is always looking for qualified and interested reviewers to provide detailed, well-thought-out reviews to our authors. The work of peer reviewers is done electronically.

Written by: 

Pamala D. Larsen, PhD MS RN, Editor-in-Chief

Linda Pierce, PhD RN CRRN FAAN, Associate Editor

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