Coached Peer Review

In Education & Quality Improvement by Daniel Sidalak1 Comment

The CanadiEM team is pleased to announce that our novel Coached Peer Review process (the review process that we use to review and publish the articles on this blog) has been published as an Innovation Report in Academic Medicine!

Coached Peer Review is a novel process we’ve developed which aims to provide a rigorous peer review process for content published on academic blogs, similar to how traditional journals have their own peer review process prior to publication.

The outline of this process can be seen in the figure below.


Coached Peer Review

The ultimate goal of the Coached Peer Review process is to develop the academic writing skills of learners. Our philosophy is that every written submission by a learner is publishable with the right amount of guidance from editors.

Instead of a cut-throat acceptance or rejection process from a board of anonymous editors (often seen in traditional peer review), our process fully discloses the contacts and identities of the staff editors working with the learner. The learner then collaborates back and forth with these editors via email in a in order to refine the submission. The aim of the process is to develop the learner’s academic writing skills through feedback given in a no-holds-barred collaborative and collegial environment. Only when all parties agree that the material is publishable with sufficient academic rigor and integrity is the material published online. Coached Peer Review was designed to be a pleasant peer review process whereby editors and learners are aligned in their goals of being able to submit the best piece possible.

Why do we think this is a valuable innovation?

  1. Coached Peer Review improves credibility. In a recent study, the credibility of open access online educational materials was questioned by authors of peer-reviewed journals. “How can we trust this material?” was a question looming on many people’s minds, especially in blogs like CanadiEM where we routinely encourage learners to publish material. This peer review process implements a process by which academic blogs and other sources can publish material that is proofread to a high academic standard and rigour.
  2. Coached Peer Review encourages learners to pursue academic interests. There is a learning curve to academic writing, and it isn’t uncommon for learners to have their submissions outright rejected through traditional journal peer review processes, often accompanied by harshly worded criticisms. Negative experiences like these may deter learners from pursuing academic interests in the future. It would be a shame to lose out on fantastic future clinician-scientists if this were the case. Coached Peer Review allows learners to develop their academic writing skills in a collegial and collaborative environment alongside staff editors. The confidence with academic writing that we hope to nurture in learners through this process will hopefully encourage a new generation of authors to pursue academic interests, instead of turning them away from it.
  3. Coached Peer Review can reshape the way we approach peer review. What if traditional avenues of academic publication adopted a method similar to Coached Peer Review? What if we created a collaborative environment between the learner and editors, instead of an anonymous one? Our study found that readers preferred the Coached Peer Review process over traditional peer review processes. In particular, they valued the speed, collegiality, opportunity to improve upon their written piece during feedback instead of frank rejections or criticisms, and increased speed of dissemination online when compared to traditional journals. While we recognize that all organizations are not learner-centred and do not have the capacity to enact such a process, we do believe that there are aspects of our approach that could improve traditional review methods.

So what are you waiting for? If you are a learner looking to submit a piece for publication on CanadiEM, look no further and contact one of our editors at [email protected] with an idea of your own! We would love to have you take part in the Coached Peer Review process.


  1. Sidalak, D., Purdy, E., Luckett-Gatopoulos, S., Murray, H., Thoma, B., & Chan, T. M. (2016). Coached Peer Review: Developing the Next Generation of Authors. Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

image from Blue Diamond Gallery

Daniel Sidalak

Daniel Sidalak

Daniel is a medical student at McMaster University.
Daniel Sidalak

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