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Pediatrics Reviewer Guidelines

Message from the Editorial Board

Dear Reviewer,

We hope the following guidelines developed by our editorial board members and staff will help you in the preparation of your manuscript reviews. We welcome your feedback, and if there are additional areas that we have neglected to include, let us know by emailing us at Pediatrics Editorial.

The Editorial Board of Pediatrics


What Makes a Good Review?

The reviewer is tasked with providing a timely, balanced critique of the manuscript that assesses the quality of the manuscript and ensures that the research that is published is sound. Following are some “dos” and “don’ts” for reviewing:


  • Be familiar with the journal's author guidelines.
  • Respect intellectual property rights.
  • Maintain confidentiality about the contents of the manuscript.
  • Be aware that your role is advisory and the decision to publish an article is based on many factors, which include the quality of the article as well as overall interest to the readership.
  • Evaluate the use of race and ethnicity per the author guidelines.
  • Provide your review in a timely manner and with clarity and balance.
  • Be collegial and constructive. Provide comments that will help to improve the quality of the manuscript.
  • Provide an overview and then address all sections of the manuscript.
  • Support your opinions with objective evidence of what is or is not in the manuscript (versus "I hate/love this paper"). In the section labeled “comments to the editors,” inform us as to whether or not you feel comfortable providing an evaluation of the statistical methods. You have been selected to review the manuscript because of your expertise in the content area of the manuscript and we value your opinion.
  • If you cannot critically appraise the statistical methods, it is still helpful to us if you provide a review of the other sections of the manuscript.



  • DO NOT review if you have a conflict of interest. There are many types of conflict of interest, including intellectual (eg, having a strong belief that makes it difficult for you to evaluate the reported findings), financial (eg, gaining a financial benefit if the work is either published or not published), or personal (eg, having a personal or professional relationship with one or more of the authors that makes it difficult to fairly evaluate the work). Reviewers are selected because they are experts in the field. Therefore, it is common for there to be questions about potential conflict of interest. If you are unsure about whether you should recuse yourself, please contact the editors to evaluate the situation.
  • DO NOT contact an author without the editor's permission.
  • DO NOT break the embargo of an article prior to its publication.


Becoming a Reviewer

If interested in reviewing, please send a letter of interest and curriculum vitae along with “key words,” phrases, or topics that you would be interested in reviewing.



Reviewers are selected on the basis of their expertise in a subject area, then emailed with a request to review. You must select the Accept link in the email invitation in order to review. If you do not have time to review the manuscript, links are provided in the invitation email allowing you to decline the invitation and to specify why (eg, too busy, conflict of interest, not your field). Once you accept the invitation, the manuscript appears in your Reviewer Center. Please note that if you do not respond to the invitation within 5 business days, the invitation to review may be rescinded in order to select another reviewer. Should that occur, and you still wish to review the paper, please email the editorial office to see if additional reviewers are still needed.

You can also email the editorial office if you would like to recommend a colleague who specializes in the field as an additional reviewer. Include your colleague’s first name, surname, and email address.



Before Agreeing to Review

  • Ensure that are able to conduct the review within 3 weeks of acceptance of the invitation. The editorial board tries to minimize the amount of time that manuscripts are under review. Should the journal receive sufficient feedback from other reviewers before the 3-week deadline, the editors may choose to make a decision on the manuscript before all reviews are received. All reviewers will be notified by e-mail when a decision is made. Please note: At that time, the manuscript and score sheet will no longer be accessible in your reviewer center. Therefore, if you still wish to submit comments, you may e-mail them to the editorial office and they will be forwarded anonymously to the authors.
  • Ensure that you do not have a conflict of interest. You must not be hindered in your ability to critically and constructively evaluate the content of the manuscript.


Accessing the Manuscript

Manuscripts assigned to you for review are listed in the “Active Reviews” list in your Reviewer Area. You can view the manuscript by clicking the PDF link under the title. To access the score sheet, click “Edit/Submit Review.”


Conducting the Review

In determining a manuscript's suitability for publication, consider the following:

  • Originality and relevance: The study should add something new to the literature. It should deal with an important topic and be of interest to clinicians and scientists.
  • The article should be well written and well organized. It should include all relevant sections for the manuscript type (e.g., abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion).
  • The methods should be clear and concise, and the statistics should be appropriate for the study design. The sample size should be adequate to address the study question. Please indicate in your review whether you feel that additional statistical review is warranted.
  • Clinical Trials: Clinical trials should be registered with or other primary registry. Please review the registration to ensure that the study follows what was proposed, including the study design, the inclusion and exclusion criteria, and whether the reported outcomes align with the trial registration.
  • The journal provides guidance to authors about the publication of trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, case studies, ethics rounds, and quality improvement reports. Please review the author guidelines to be aware of the journal requirements for these types of manuscripts.
  • Alternate journal: Would the manuscript be better suited to a different (eg, subspecialty) journal? If so, feel free to suggest a specific journal.


Special Considerations by Article Type

Diagnostic Dilemmas and Clinical Reasoning: The goal of this feature is to present clinical cases that are diagnostic dilemmas and that involve the input of both generalists and subspecialists who comment as segments of the case are presented, similar to Ethics Rounds feature articles. Each case presented will generate a dialogue about unusual or complicated disease processes and will stimulate discussion about clinical reasoning. For more detailed information about Diagnostic Dilemmas, please see the author guidelines.

Family Partnerships: This feature is to show the strength of the partnership working together for a purpose or outcome. We are not looking for a personal vignette that does not have a generalizable message for others to apply in their own practices. It is preferable to get a sense of all voices being heard in the piece (eg, the provider and family member author that make up the partnership). For more detailed information about Family Partnerships, please see the author guidelines.

Quality Reports: This section of the journal shares reports of robust quality improvement (QI) initiatives. The goal is to improve the quality of quality improvement efforts across our community as readers of the reports gain new ideas for improvement targets or new insight into improvement methods. As a reviewer, in addition to usual feedback for all manuscripts, please try to focus on these aspects specific to quality reports:

  • Is the improvement target important? As an expert in this clinical area, do you as a reviewer feel the authors are addressing an improvement target that will be of importance to others? Is the aim appropriate? If similar improvement projects are successful, will they have an impact on patients and families that is meaningful?
  • Are the improvement methods rigorous? Have the authors used fundamental QI methods, such as those outlined in the Model for Improvement? Have they used these methods appropriately? Is there a problem statement that adequately describes the reason for the initiative? Are measures clearly defined? Is there an appropriate description of context and the theory used to identify drivers and change concepts? Is the data analyzed over time, with appropriate analytic methods (typically run charts or control charts)? Are interventions and tests of change described clearly? While manuscripts do not need to contain every element of the SQUIRE guidelines (SQUIRE | HOME PAGE (, they should have most.

For more detailed information about Quality Reports, please see the author guidelines.


Writing the Review

  • Be specific in your comments and provide examples from the manuscript, including line numbers or areas of the manuscript to which you are referring. Begin by providing general comments on the manuscript. Next, provide specific comments on the individual sections of the manuscript.
  • Be direct in your confidential comments to the editor.
  • Do not comment on the acceptability of a manuscript for publication in your comments to the author (eg, do not indicate that a manuscript should be accepted once suggested revisions are made). These comments will be removed from your review.
  • Convey the same overall message in your comments to the editor and author (while the confidential message to the editor may be more direct, the overall message to both the editor and author should be the same).



The manuscript is a privileged document and subject to an embargo. Do not discuss the manuscript with others (eg, colleagues, the author, the media) during or after the review process. Your role as a reviewer is also kept confidential from authors and other reviewers. Do not sign your review; any signature will be removed from the review. Please note: Reviews submitted to Pediatrics are the property of the journal. To maintain confidentiality, reviewers may not share or republish reviews elsewhere without the permission of the journal.


Use of Artificial Intelligence (eg, Large Language Models) in Manuscript Peer Review

Pediatrics does not allow the use of artificial intelligence, such as large language models (LLMs), for the peer review of manuscripts. Reviewers are invited based on their personal expertise. This expertise cannot be replicated by LLMs. In addition, there are concerns related to amplification of bias in existing LLM training data and confidentiality issues (eg, potential incorporation of manuscript data or ideas into LLM training data).



Communicate any suspicions of a breach of ethics to the editorial office. Do not contact the author directly. Two common areas of ethical concern include the following:

  • Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the use of previously published content (text, figures, tables, concepts, data) without permission or attribution. Previously published content must be attributed to the source with a complete, correct reference.
  • Conflicts of interest: If you are aware of any author conflicts of interest (eg, commercial affiliations, consultancies) that are not already listed on the manuscript’s title page, contact the editorial office.

For additional guidance on peer reviewer ethics, see the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers.


Trainee Reviewers

Trainees (students, residents) may review for the journal if they have the expertise to review the subject matter of the manuscript. They should be assisted by a senior mentor during the review process, and the mentor must sign off on the review. Trainees must abide by all reviewer guidelines, including the necessity to recuse themselves if they have a conflict of interest, including intellectual (eg, having a strong belief that makes it difficult for you to evaluate the reported findings), financial (eg, gaining a financial benefit if the work is either published or not published), or personal (eg, having a personal or professional relationship with one or more of the authors that makes it difficult to fairly evaluate the work).


Public Reviewers

Pediatrics may engage reviewers who are not health care professionals but who represent the public and can provide a patient- or family-centered perspective of articles under consideration. The Pediatrics review form contains several evaluation questions and text boxes for comments to the editor and authors. We value the input from public reviewers. However, when serving as a public reviewer, you may respond “N/A” to any question if you do not feel that you have the appropriate expertise or experience. As a public reviewer, questions to consider when reviewing include:

  • Is the subject of the article relevant and important to you as a caregiver or patient? Do you think it would be relevant to other family members and their children?
  • Is there anything missing or requires greater emphasis from your perspective?
  • From your perspective, would the treatment or solution being recommended work in “the real world?”
  • Is what is being measured or evaluated important to you or are there other outcomes more important that should have been written about or studied?
  • Do you have any suggestions to make the article more understandable and useful?
  • For Family Partnerships articles: Is it clear that there is a partnership that involves someone who is not a clinician, such as a patient, family member, or other caregiver? Does the perspective of the patient, family member, or other caregiver need to be emphasized?


Filling Out the Score Sheet

  • Comments to Editor: Use this space for your recommendation for acceptance or rejection. These comments will not be conveyed to the author.
  • Special Symbols: As with other plain text transmissions, such as e-mail, your use of special symbols is restricted. Please use symbols that are found on your keyboard and plain text notations, such as (^) for superscript. For example, you will not be able to use the symbols for Greek letters. You will need to spell these out (eg, needs to be denoted with mu). If you will be repeatedly using a Greek letter, you can re-define the symbol (eg, G = gamma) at the beginning of the section in which you will be using it.


Submitting the Review

You must click Submit My Review to finalize your review. If you want to pause and come back to it later, click on Save My Work in Progress instead. You MUST eventually click on Submit My Review to send in your form; otherwise it will remain in your Reviewer Area as a draft. You may also save the review as a file on your own computer using the cut-and-paste option.


Turning Off Reviewer Invitations

To indicate that you are temporarily unavailable to review, click Create a New Note in the Information box in your profile. Select "Availability" from the drop-down menu. Select the dates you will be unavailable. In the text box, type "Unavailable."

If you wish to be permanently removed as a reviewer, email staff at Pediatrics Editorial with your request.


CME/MOC for Peer Review

The journal now offers 3.00 continuing medical education (CME) credits for peer review. The awarding of CME credit is based on both the timely submission of the review and the quality of the review per the criteria outlined in the reviewer guidelines as assessed by the Executive Editorial Board. All criteria must be met to receive credit. The Executive Editorial Board’s decision regarding the awarding of CME credit is final.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The AAP designates this manuscript review activity for a maximum of 3.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

This activity is acceptable for a maximum of 3.00 AAP credits. These credits can be applied toward the AAP CME/CPD Award available to Fellows and Candidate Members of the AAP.

Successful completion of this CME activity, which includes participation in the evaluation component, enables the learner to earn up to 3 MOC points in the American Board of Pediatrics’ (ABP) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. It is the CME activity provider’s responsibility to submit learner completion information to ACCME for the purpose of granting ABP MOC credit.

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