The Midwifery Matters Peer Review Process
Most midwives are familiar with clinical practice peer review processes, in which cases are shared with other midwives who comment and discuss the management and outcome. This kind of peer review plays an important role in improving the quality of care, determining and maintaining community practice standards, and fostering learning and growth.
In the context of Midwifery Matters (MM), peer review is the critical assessment of manuscripts submitted to the journal by people who are not part of the editorial staff, and who are knowledgeable about the manuscript's subject. At MM, this means that articles submitted to the journal will be read and considered by midwives, writers, teachers, advocates, allied health professionals, and others who are not part of the journal's staff.
Traditionally, peer review serves the following important functions:
Avoiding the publication of low-quality work.
Reviewing research methodologies for flaws.
Ensuring facts and results are correctly interpreted and clearly reported.
Selecting work of interest to a journal's readers.
Helping readers, non-specialists, and editors critically assess content.
At Midwifery Matters, peer review also serves two additional functions:
Fostering dialogue between authors and reviewers. Because many MM authors are students or are relatively new to research and writing, dialogue at all stages of the research, writing, and publication process is essential. The mission of MM is not just to publish articles: it is also to nurture the research and writing skills of the CPM community as part of the development of the profession.
Building the reviewing skills of our community. Because MM anticipates and hopes that many of our reviewers will be practicing midwives, we do not expect that all of our reviewers will already have the all skills and experience needed to effectively review a manuscript. Reviewers bring a depth of knowledge and much enthusiasm, and MM offers a structured reviewing process. Part of the mission of MM is to develop the peer review skill set more broadly, because these skills and a robust peer review process for research are one way of reflecting a profession's ability to think critically about itself, and its ideas and practices.
Open peer review
In open peer review, the author and the reviewers all know one another's identities, rather than remaining anonymous throughout the process. MM uses the open peer review model to foster open dialogue between reviewers and authors, to maintain transparency, and to ensure there is accountability in the peer review process. However, open peer review does not preclude confidentiality: authors and reviewers should not disclose one another's identities to others during the reviewing process. MM will publish a list of the past year's peer reviewers in each winter issue.
The Midwifery Matters peer review process
Manuscripts submitted to MM will first be read by the editor to assess whether they meet the basic requirements outlined in the “Author and Artist Instructions and Style Guide.” If the manuscript meets these criteria, the editor will select two peer reviewers. All reviewers will be vetted for any conflicts of interest with the author, including having been the author's teacher or preceptor. Reviewers will read the submission and provide structured feedback about the manuscript on a reviewing form. Based on the comments in the reviewing form, the editor will decide to accept the manuscript, to recommend it be revised and resubmitted, or to reject it. Regardless of the editor's decision, the author will receive the reviewer's comments. If the editor either accepts it or recommends revision and resubmission, then along with the reviewer comments the editor will create a roadmap for the author to use as a guide for moving the piece towards acceptance and publication, and will work with the author to move through the roadmap. The author will also have the chance to ask questions of reviewers to clarify comments.
Midwifery Matters' peer reviewers
Midwifery Matters is committed to the "peer" in peer review! Its reviewers are individuals who are interested in reviewing articles, and are committed to investing in the process and developing as reviewers themselves. The MM reviewing process is designed to provide people new to reviewing with the structure and tools needed to effectively evaluate an article. Many reviewers are practicing midwives, but others are people with relevant writing and research experience, or specific knowledge or specializations related to midwifery. Peer reviewers do not have to be midwives, but should have broad knowledge of the field of midwifery, childbirth, and women's health, or of subsets of these fields, or of related areas. For example, an herbalist with particular knowledge of women's health would be welcome as a peer reviewer, and would be asked to review articles relevant to her/his expertise. Each submission is read by two reviewers, and MM seeks to pair up reviewers with different skill sets, knowledge areas, and levels of experience. Peer reviewers can submit their own manuscripts for consideration by MM, so being a reviewer does not limit one's opportunities for publishing in the journal.
If you are interested in becoming a peer reviewer, email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are building our peer reviewer network!