The Importance of Peer Review
As you may have noticed, a new image is appearing on articles in Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. Depicting a magnifying glass focused on a page of a publication with the words “Dimensions Peer-Reviewed Content,” it signifies that a particular feature or continuing education (CE) article has gone through the process of peer review. Why is this important? And how does a peer-reviewed article help you be a better dental hygienist?
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), “The peer-review process subjects an author’s scholarly work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field (peers) and is considered necessary to ensure academic scientific quality.”1 While the word “accuracy” isn’t mentioned in the USGS description, it’s implied—to achieve quality, the content must be accurate. Not only that, unbiased information is also important in an oral healthcare publication. If an author has a conflict of interest with the topic, it needs to be identified and mitigated.
Each publication that is peer reviewed has a specific process to ensure quality and accuracy. Since its inception, all of us at Dimensions have been adamant about adhering to our peer-review process, and it’s important for you, our readers, to know how we conduct such reviews. Every feature and CE article is sent to at least two reviewers—sometimes three or four if the content is especially detailed. Reviewers use our author guidelines as the framework for reviews. We almost exclusively choose reviewers from writers in Dimensions who have written on similar topics in the past. A specific rubric is utilized to assist reviewers in determining if an article is acceptable for publication. Authors’ names are removed from the peer-review form to keep the process impartial. Key qualities are assessed, including:
In addition, reviewers are encouraged to make specific corrections or suggestions on the manuscript and provide comments in a dedicated area of the peer-review form. But the process doesn’t end there. Once an article is in layout form, it’s sent to me for review and comment, as well as our publisher, Lorene Kent, RDH, BA. By the time you read a Dimensions article, it has been read and reviewed by five to seven different people. And this is important: all are oral healthcare professionals who understand the subject matter.
Rest assured that the content you read in Dimensions has been scrutinized by experts in their fields. We want to make certain that what we share with you is not only current but scientifically sound, so that you can provide the best possible care to your patients. The trust you have given to us drives everything we do, and we will never compromise on quality and accuracy. So the next time you pick up a publication aimed at the dental hygiene audience, check on the process it uses to make sure the content is unbiased, correct, and trustworthy. You owe it to yourself and your patients to accept nothing less.
Jill Rethman, RDH, BA
Editor in Chief
- United States Geological Survey. What Does It Mean When a Publication Is Peer Reviewed? Available at: usgs.gov/faqs/what-does-it-mean-when-publication-peer-reviewed#:~:text=A%20peer%20reviewed%20publication%20is,to%20ensure%20academic%20scientific%20quality. Accessed October 21, 2022.
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. November/December 2022;20(11)6.