Free Online Course on Journal Peer Review


Translating Critical Appraisal of a Manuscript into Meaningful Peer Review

We have developed a free of charge online course on journal peer review, Translating Critical Appraisal of a Manuscript into Meaningful Peer Review, to serve as a resource for health professionals who are serving or wish to serve as peer reviewers of the biomedical literature. Because this course was funded by the NEI, we have specifically oriented the Workshop to ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other vision practitioners, mainly based in the US. Although the examples are mainly related to eyes and vision, and the speakers are mainly connected to eyes and vision research, the course is applicable and useful to health professionals from all specialties and those who participate in peer review of the biomedical literature generally. There are no prerequisites for this Workshop, but participants should have a basic knowledge of the approaches and language related to epidemiology, study design, biostatistics, and critical appraisal methods.

This course was funded in part by:

  • The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, USA (Contract N-01-EY-2-1003 and Grant 1 U01 EY020522)
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Course objectives:  The aims of the Workshop are for participants to understand:

  1. The available evidence regarding the effectiveness and utility of the peer review process;
  2. The purpose, process, and responsibilities in peer review from the perspective of the author, editor, and peer reviewer;
  3. The different types of clinical research questions and appropriate designs for studying them;
  4. The strengths and limitations of the various study designs;
  5. Measures used to test association between exposures and outcomes;
  6. How to apply critical appraisal to manuscripts submitted for peer review;
  7. How to provide meaningful feedback to authors and editors that they can use to improve manuscript quality.

Description of the modules: 

The Workshop includes two didactic modules comprising a total of 12 lectures.

Module 1.  Introduction to editorial peer review

Lecture 1

Peer review:  What, why, who, and how

Fiona Godlee

Lecture 2

Expectations of a journal editor:  A guide for peer reviewers

Tom Liesegang

Module 2.  How to critically appraise the literature

Lecture 1

What is the study question?

Anne Coleman

Lecture 2

What is the study design and is it appropriate for the study question?

David Friedman

Lecture 3

Measures of disease frequency, measures of association, and hypothesis testing

Marie Diener-West

Lecture 4

Appraising validity in studies of intervention effectiveness

Karla Zadnik

Lecture 5

Appraising validity in systematic reviews

Donald Minckler

Lecture 6

Appraising validity in studies of harm

Ann-Margret Ervin

Lecture 7

Appraising validity in studies of prognosis

Richard Wormald

Lecture 8

Appraising validity in studies of diagnostic test accuracy

Milo Puhan

Lecture 9

Critical appraisal of diagnostic test accuracy studies

Milo Puhan

Lecture 10

How should we assess claims about causality?

Joanne Katz