Peer review is integral to the success of scholarly journals, yet formal training in this art is absent from professional life. In response, two of ASTRO’s journals, Practical Radiation Oncology (PRO) and the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics (Red Journal), have launched peer review training programs to address this gap.
PRO’s Reviewer Apprenticeship program was launched in 2016 by its Editor-in-Chief, W. Robert Lee, MD, MS, MEd, FASTRO, who practices at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He envisions the program “filling a need not only in our specialty but in the wider scholarly community, as well. As an editor and author, I am hoping for quality reviews in the future, not quantity. This apprenticeship program aims to develop high-quality reviewers who can support the editor in making crucial decisions while at the same time giving authors constructive edits to improve their papers.”
In the program’s first year, more than 25 applications were received from North American institutions. Six trainees were eventually chosen to take part in the first cohort: Fabio Ynoe de Moraes, MD, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto; Eric Ojerholm, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Naoual Oulmoudne, MD, University Hospital of Montreal; Trevor Royce, MD, MS, Harvard Radiation Oncology Program, Boston; Jennifer Steers, MS, PhD, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; and William Stokes, MD, University of Colorado, Denver.
Apprentices are required to complete six reviews over the span of a year, and each review is scored by the editor-in-chief, with personalized feedback given to each apprentice. All apprentices who successfully complete the program will receive a certificate and be formally recognized in the journal.
This year, the Red Journal launched its own peer review apprenticeship program with the Resident Peer Review Training Program (RePRT) to complement PRO’s model. In contrast to PRO’s program, the Red Journal’s peer review program is open to interested participants in any discipline, although residents and fellows in radiation oncology or radiation physics are strongly encouraged to apply. Trainees will act as supplementary reviewers and will receive feedback on their reviews from the journal’s editorial staff. Peer review trainees who complete eight high-quality and timely reviews within a period of three years will be eligible for a certificate of participation. Exceptional program participants will be considered for the Red Journal’s yearly acknowledgment of outstanding reviewers.
The program was conceived by Deputy Editor Sue Yom, MD, PhD, MAS, who practices at the University of California San Francisco, arising from internal discussions among the editors. “There is a tension between the need for high-quality and timely reviews and the lack of a structure to help our journals to meet these demands and foster the next generation of reviewers and editors,” Dr. Yom says. “Under the RePRT model, trainees will be mentored by seasoned editors who have years of reviewing experience under their belts. We believe that this directed-feedback loop, together with the wide talent pool that RePRT will be able to tap into, will ensure that this crucial repopulation of our journals’ talent pool remains healthy and thriving.”
The PRO Reviewer Apprenticeship will open the call for applications for 2018 later this year; for more information on this apprenticeship in the interim, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Red Journal’s RePRT is accepting applications on a rolling basis. Interested applicants are requested to contact email@example.com. Your feedback about these programs are welcomed.