A Commitment to Pre-publication Peer Review

In Knowledge Translation by Brent Thoma5 Comments

Many keys have been tapped relating the merits and problems with various mechanisms of peer review for FOAM (Free Open-Access Meducation). It has been discussed on this site in multiple forms (Crowdsourced Instantaneous Review, FOAM: A Market of Ideas, Arguments for a Journal of FOAM, FOAM + Curriculum = FOAM-U?) by Aaron Sparshott at IVLine (Capturing the Great FOAM), by Damian Rolond at The Rolobot Rambles (Peer Review: Pointless, Perfunctionary or Practical) as well as on twitter (thanks for the Storify Todd Raine). Michelle Lin, Javier Benitez and the rest of the ALiEM crew have experimented with it successfully (Bridging the Quality Gap: Becoming a Peer Reviewed Blog, Pilot: ALiEM Journal). There have also been many odes to the problems with classical peer review like the ones by Graham Walker at The Central Line and Chris Nickson at LITFL here and here.

Until recently I was a whole lot of thought and not a lot of action on the peer review front. However, since the start of March I have been using pre-publication peer review to make my posts better. It takes self-discipline to keep my mouse away from the “Publish” button after finishing a post and instead e-mail it to a helpful colleague and wait for their feedback, but the improvements to my posts have made it worthwhile. Unsurprisingly, I think my posts are more clear, have less errors, miss fewer important references and are better quality thanks to the feedback that I have received. I have also found that my fellow FOAMites are happy to provide feedback and have been able to do so in an extremely timely manner.

I know this is not a new concept. I recall having my mother review my writing in grade school and understand that many of the larger multi-contributor sites internally review each others’ work regularly before posting. However, it’s something that I did not do right from the beginning and wish I had – especially for the posts with medical content. Feedback would have significantly improved my earlier posts and still plays a big role now. The need for a group of go-to people to provide peer-review feedback was the partial impetus for the formation of the USask FOAM Collaborative. Hopefully this shift will help BoringEM foster a reputation as a FOAM site that provides topical, high-quality content on the boringest aspects of EM.

I would like to conclude this brief post by encouraging:

  • Other small FOAM sites to consider pre-publication peer review if they haven’t aready incorporated it
  • The members of FOAM-nation to enthusiastically agree to provide helpful peer review if asked

And by thanking the many people that have already improved BoringEM’s content through pre-publication peer review.

As always, thanks for reading. Support in the form of comments, tweets, retweets, twitter follows, sharing this post and subscribing to my posts through e-mail is always appreciated!

Peer Review: Dr. Chris Bond of SOCMOB

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Brent Thoma
+ Brent Thoma is a medical educator, blogging geek, and emergency physician who works at the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine. He founded BoringEM and is a senior editor / tech support / jack-of-all trades at CanadiEM.
Brent Thoma
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Brent Thoma