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  1. Laskowski-Jones, Linda MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM, FAAN

Article Content

In the past decade, scores of articles and programs have targeted the pervasive issue of incivility and its corrosive effects on society. The publication process is no exception and can be fraught with its own brand of incivility. As a long-time author, peer reviewer, and editor-in-chief, I have firsthand experience. So have many other colleagues in the publishing world, the likes of which generated a lively conversation at a recent international conference attended by nurse editors. I will share a few takeaways and insights.

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To authors and those aspiring to write for publication, accept that a rigorous peer-review process assures high standards of academic quality and scholarship. Editors understand the pride and ownership an author feels about his or her work. Reviewer comments are intended to be constructive and are offered to improve the manuscript. Authors do not have to agree with the feedback or even make all of the suggested edits; judgment is warranted. However, do not respond to recommendations with snarky or insulting remarks that question the knowledge, experience, or motivation of the reviewers. Reviewers are selected based on their subject matter expertise. Take the high road and maintain a professional tone: Simply provide an objective rationale for why certain edits were made or not made. The editor can then make an informed decision on how best to proceed.


To reviewers, realize that the choice of words and tone can either inspire or alienate an author. Please consider the potential lasting effects of these words. On occasion, they are so egregious that editors have to remove hurtful or unjust remarks before sending feedback to an author. Many successful authors will share that they felt so defeated after a bad experience with the peer-review process that it was only through the support of an experienced colleague or mentor that they continued to write for publication.


Fortunately, most authors and reviewers in the nursing field are indeed professional and civil. But my colleagues and I still see enough incivility crop up now and again that it's important to raise awareness. The adage, "If you can't say something nice..." is particularly fitting here. Authors and reviewers who demonstrate incivility may believe that they have the last word, but I guarantee the editor-in-chief will have the last action.


Until next time,



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