August 25, 2016 | Jeffrey D. Roth, MD, Medical Director, Working Sobriety Chicago, Editor, Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery

Reviewing manuscripts as a group process

About my journal

From the outset of the journal’s existence, the mission of the journal has been to form a community of scholars and clinicians interested in the use of groups, both psychotherapy and mutual support groups, in the service of recovery from addiction. To this end, the stance of the journal has been to support authors in having their experience, strength and hope shared with this community within the standards of publication in the social sciences.

My role as an editor and the challenges I faced

My day job is serving as an addiction psychiatrist and group psychotherapist with a group of colleagues at Working Sobriety Chicago. When I became editor-in-chief of the Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery, I brought both my naivete as a journal editor, and my experience of working with group processes. One major task as the editor has been to stimulate the submission of manuscripts for publication and organize the review process for these manuscripts in line with the journal’s emphasis on the use of groups and sharing.

Peer reviewing as a group process

The review process is intended to function as a group. Three or four reviewers provide feedback and comments on each paper. These comments are shared not only with the authors, but also with the group of reviewers who may benefit from seeing how their colleagues reacted to the same paper.

All authors are encouraged to serve as reviewers of other papers. In addition to growing the pool of potential reviewers, bringing authors into the role of reviewers increases the amount of empathy for new authors, since their work may be reviewed by colleagues who have experienced being on their end of the review process. Assigning reviewers is accomplished with an attempt to locate both reviewers who are intimately familiar with the manuscript’s subject, as well as at least one who is outside of the immediate subject area; the journal hopes to publish papers that are accessible to the broad range of clinicians and academicians working with groups in addiction and recovery. The readership embraces a diverse range of theoretical and clinical orientations.

Engaging reviewers in a group process provides an opportunity for authors and reviewers to join an intellectual community. Double blind review by a group of several reviewers provides an author with support to revise a manuscript that will be useful to the journal’s readership. Providing reviewers with a summary of their comments links reviewers to each other, and offers the reviewers feedback to compare their experience of a manuscript with other reviewers.

Looking ahead

Most recently, as the journal is coming of age, I am constructing a succession plan to ensure the future of the journal. A new procedure for filling the role of editor has been implemented. Twenty active author/reviewers were invited to serve as the editor for one issue of the journal, which appears quarterly. As the editor-in-chief, I meet monthly with the current editor to train the editor in managing the review process and preparing the editorial for that issue. The current editor constructs the issue with manuscripts that have been reviewed under the supervision of previous editors; the manuscripts that the current editor receives and reviews will be used in future issues. This newly implemented succession plan has created a cadre of experienced colleagues who will be able to continue the work of the journal without placing a disproportionate share of the workload on any one member of the team, since any individual editor assumes responsibility for one issue every five years. I plan to appoint a successor from among these twenty current editors.

Fellow journal editors are invited to contact the editor-in-chief with any questions or comments about this article at

Published: August 25, 2016 | Author: Jeffrey D. Roth, MD, Medical Director, Working Sobriety Chicago, Editor, Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery | Category: News and ideas, Peer review |