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Inviting contributors to ALiEM: An open peer-reviewed content submission process

open peer-reviewed content submission processOver the last several years, ALiEM has recruited a team of regular contributors, each with their own individual passions within the entire breadth of Emergency Medicine. ALiEM has provided these individuals with a global platform capable of carrying their message to a target audience of thousands of regular subscribers. Furthermore, the evolution of a rigorous pre-publication Expert Peer Review process has helped ensure that the content is especially polished and scientifically accurate.

Today marks a new day. The overwhelming success of the website and editorial process has led us to what we feel is the next step for this academic blog and online medical education: peer-reviewed community content submission.

If it’s not broken, why fix it?

We have been incredibly privileged to have an amazing core group of authors for the blog, writing on a range of topics using innovative approaches. We also realize how lucky we are to have a global audience of like-minded, lifelong learners in Emergency Medicine and beyond. There is, however, always room to improve and grow. Although our authors are a group of talented educators, we know that there are many more out there, who don’t have instant access to a global audience crossing multiple social media platforms.

That changes today. We are broadening our horizons and opening our website to the global community of clinicians and educators.

What is unique about our submission process?

Detailed instructions and the blog submission process can be found on this Submissions webpage.

Uniquely we are employing a novel, three-tiered, peer review approach that we feel rivals and contrasts most medical journals. As content progresses from one level to the next, so too does the level of expertise, ending with an Expert Peer-Review (EPR) by a professional with predefined criteria (e.g. published in the particular subject area). Using this approach, it guarantees a minimum of three sets of eyes on the content prior to reaching the EPR, and four sets of eyes before reaching the ALiEM readership. Examples of this can be found here and here.

ALiEM Submissions Flowchart

Because we value transparency, all reviewers/editors will be identified and credited for their input. Furthermore at each step, comments from each reviewer/editor will be publicly available and incorporated into the final blog post. There are pros and cons in creating a completely open review process, but we feel that the pros significantly outweigh the cons. We look forward to everyone’s feedback on this novel approach.

Finally, we are excited to provide authors with a one-time analytic report of their statistics, upon request. We have a separate Analytics Editor, who can provide a report of the web traffic generated from your blog post. This includes the number of page views, cities, and countries who have visited your URL link during a specific period (e.g. the first 7 days). Typically the greatest number of hits for a post peaks within the first week. We have found that this is a great adjunct when you are citing your blog post in your CV.

How should I report my blog post on my CV?

There are several ways to report authorship of a blog post. We favor the AMA format:

Author Surname, First Initial. Second Initial. OR Author screen name {as it appears on the blog}. (Year, Month Day {of post}). Title of specific post [Web log post]. Retrieved from URL of specific post.


Sifford D. Research Figures Demystified: Bland-Altman Plot. ALIEM. Published June 5, 2014. Accessed August 22, 2014.

We look forward to the great content to come. We hope that you will join our authorship team and share your educational pearls with a global community of lifelong learners.

Derek Sifford

Derek Sifford

Premedical student, Wayne State University
Critical Care Paramedic, serving the Henry Ford Health System (Detroit, MI)
Derek Sifford
Derek Sifford

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  • Michael Gisondi

    This is a game-changer, Michelle. The future of peer review will be dictated by the success of formats such as the one you have proposed. I’m fascinated to see how it unfolds.

    • Thanks for your encouraging words. We’re trying to tackle big philosophical and logistical issues in online education and digital scholarship. With everyone’s help, patience, and ongoing feedback, we hope to push the concept of traditional peer review in a more positive direction. Looking forward to seeing what great content comes this way!

  • emcrit

    Fantastic next step in the ALIEM evolution! Have you folks thought of utilizing the Winnower to be able to offer DOI for these submissions as well.

    • Thanks for your support, Scott. It’s been several months now hashing out the details of how to best operationalize this. Fortunately, I have a WordPress-saavy expert in Derek Sifford, who will is the Submissions Editor.

      I don’t know enough about Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) and their value intrinsically and in academia. I see that unique DOIs are assigned to Pubmed-index journal articles and are tracked nicely using Altmetrics. I’m not exactly sure I like having our some of our content “live” on another site concurrently from a product branding, google search SEO, and web traffic perspective. I have a little OCD and paranoia when it comes to losing full control of our content. Regardless, Winnower offers an intriguing option.

      In the meantime, we are focusing on:
      1. Trying to operationalize how to get individual submissions through a vetting process to uphold high quality standards, and
      2. Testing out a transparent and consistent pre-publication peer-reviewing process (an open call for post-publication peer review can be very inconsistent– not everyone has a robust EMCrit community with active commenters!)

      It may be a little bumpy as we get started but we are trying to keep in mind 2 key aspects creating legitimate innovation — sustainability and scalability. Thanks for commenting!

  • Jason West

    Great to see the peer review process is more structured.

    For EM residents getting ready to build our CVs, under what heading should we be listing our social media contributions? It’s not a journal, but it is peer reviewed. For mine, I made a separate heading for Social Media Contributions.

    • Great question. It kind of depends on where you work. At UCSF (and many institutions, I’m sure), there is a template we need to follow. Unfortunately, that means all my social media work goes into “Other Publications” for me.

      Blog posts, even if they are “peer reviewed” ideally belong in a separate header. If you can create a separate header, “Social Media Contributions” or “Online Education Publications” work best. I’m not sure if subscription-based podcasts (e.g. EM:RAP) or sites (e.g. count as the former. So I’m leaning towards liking “Online Education Publications” more, because it is more broad. Also I like “publications” instead of “contributions” more. Just my 2 cents.