A lot goes into producing a journal. Most of us are consumers of nursing journals but do not think about how what we read got to the printed (or electronic) page. We read a completed article and find it valuable and applicable, or interesting but not pertinent to our area of practice. If you have written a manuscript, you know that the articles in any given issue likely represent many months of work to evolve into the published state. Some authors can quickly produce a manuscript once they have completed a study or determined what message they want to convey; however, after listening to many authors over the years, I think that is the exception rather than the rule. Many authors take on writing a manuscript in essence as a second job. As a result, their primary job, whatever that may be, always takes precedent. However, a manuscript eventually becomes a reality for many. Sometimes the best analogy for producing a manuscript is pregnancy—it took a long time, you are expecting a great outcome, sometime during labor you wish you had never undertaken your involvement, and once you have delivered, you definitely do not want anyone telling you that your baby is ugly! So, to many authors, getting feedback is critical to creating the “beautiful baby” (acceptable manuscript).
Reviewers have the benefit of being on the cutting edge of thinking in a field and because they guide authors in their publication journey, they help shape what the rest of us read. Most refereed publications in nursing use a double-blind review process. This means that the authors are unknown to the reviewers and the reviewers are unknown to the authors. Our reviewers support the belief that constructive feedback is useful to refining a submission to make it clearer, more accurate, more appealing, or more relevant. Reviewers play a vital role in any refereed process because they shape the redirection or clarification of submissions. They operate behind the scenes, under time lines, during pandemics or not, and have the goal of making good manuscripts, great and the average manuscripts, acceptable. Every time a manuscript is accepted, someone helped get it to that stage.
A journal relies heavily on volunteers who are willing to add to their own personal workload to read manuscripts, sometimes several times, to coach authors to success and to celebrate behind the scenes when the submitted manuscript becomes the published article. Sometimes authors sincerely thank reviewers for their comments. This is our opportunity to acknowledge our reviewers and thank them for making the good better. We extend our greatest appreciation to all who reviewed a manuscript during 2020—a truly distinctive year!
Patricia S. Yoder-Wise, RN, EdD, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAONL, FAAN