CME Information and Guidelines for Manuscript Review

The Editors of The Spine Journal and the North American Spine Society (NASS) are pleased to offer AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM CME for registered physician reviewers ("reviewers") who complete academically rigorous manuscript reviews meeting all necessary requirements. The Editorial Office will track qualifying reviews, and eligible reviewers will receive information regarding how to claim credits at the time a decision is made on a manuscript. NASS is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The objectives and requirements for this learning activity can be found below.

The North American Spine Society is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The North American Spine Society designates each manuscript review for a maximum of 3.0 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Reviewers may claim a maximum of 15 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM per year for manuscript review CME. 

Objectives of this Manuscript Review CME Learning Activity

Upon completion of the TSJ Manuscript Review process, reviewers should gain strategies to:

  1. Evaluate contributions to the medical literature in relation to their understanding of the established evidence base.
  2. Communicate constructive feedback to improve the quality, relevance, accuracy and/or rigor of submitted manuscripts, based on reviewers’ own practice, expertise, and knowledge of related literature.
  3. Increase their skill in the critical analysis of medical literature and improve behavior and performance in practice.



Guidelines for Manuscript Review

The Spine Journal Reviewer Guidelines are available here


Additional resources for Spine Journal peer reviewers:

How to Conduct a Quality Manuscript Review On-Demand Webinar

The Spine Journal Deputy Editors present helpful and timesaving advice on critiquing manuscripts. The webinar offers CME and is free to Spine Journal reviewers. Receive free registration by emailing [email protected] and identifying yourself as a Spine Journal reviewer.


Online Evidence-Based Medicine Training Program

NASS offers an interactive web-based training on the fundamentals of evidence-based medicine (EBM) with CME. Spine Journal reviewers who are NASS Members in good standing receive complimentary registration by emailing [email protected] and indicating membership on the TSJ Review Board.


Requirements for Reviewer CME Credit

To be eligible to earn up to 3 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM credits for a manuscript review, each reviewer will be required to:

  • Have no significant conflict of interest or competing interests related to his/her ability to critique the manuscript.
  • Complete the Spine Journal manuscript review, in a timely manner, based on clinical expertise and knowledge of the relevant literature. Specifically, in each review, the reviewer will be required to:
    • Briefly summarize the content of the manuscript and the main take-away message from it.
    • Discuss its strengths, weaknesses, novelty, and whether the conclusions of the study are important, eg, do they drive forward understanding? Are they likely to influence clinicians or scientists?
    • Evaluate whether the conclusions of this study are supported by the results.



Rating System for Scoring Peer Reviews

The quality, depth, and scope of your review must be deemed appropriate by the Editors for your review to quality for credit. Reviews must score 80 or higher to be considered an acceptable review and eligible for CME credit.


95 Outstanding: Clear review of the manuscript and the study it describes. Comments to the Editor are concise, insightful and accurate. Comments to the authors demonstrate a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript and revisions based on these suggestions will significantly improve the manuscript. Detailed remarks were provided.

90 Excellent: Thorough review of the manuscript. Comments to the Editor are thoughtful and accurate. Comments to the authors demonstrate a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript. Revisions based on most of these suggestions will improve the manuscript. Occasional suggestion unclear or of minor importance.

85 Good: Adequate review of the manuscript. Limited comments to the Editor were provided. Comments to the authors could have been more detailed in defining the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript rather than focusing on minor facets of the manuscript.

80 Helpful: Review provided some suggestions for improvement but missed some key strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript/study. Comments to the Editor are of limited value in aiding in the editorial decision. Comments to the authors minimally assess the manuscript and offer suggestions for revisions to improve the manuscripts.

75 Marginal: Comments to the Editor offer only limited value for evaluation of the manuscript. Comments to the authors are thin and of little help, and at times were too critical or confusing.

70 Unacceptable: Reviewer clearly needs direction. The reviewer provided insufficient comments to explain the recommendation and poor guidance to the author.



NASS asks individuals in control of content for this activity (planners, faculty, reviewers, authors, staff, others) to disclose all financial relationships with any ineligible companies that they have had over the past 12 months using the NASS online disclosure module at  

Ineligible companies, previously known as commercial interests, are those whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients. There is no minimum financial threshold; participants must disclose all financial relationships, regardless of the amount, with these companies. NASS asks all participants to disclose regardless of whether they view the financial relationships as relevant to the education.  

Because health care professionals serve as the trusted authorities when advising patients, they must protect their learning environment from industry influence to ensure they remain true to their ethical commitments. Many health care professionals have financial relationships with ineligible companies/commercial interests. By identifying and mitigating relevant financial relationships, we work together to create a protected space to learn, teach, and engage in scientific discourse free from influence from organizations that may have an incentive to insert commercial bias into education. 

After disclosure information is received and prior to implementation of the educational activity, NASS staff and peers review them to determine whether the relationships are relevant to the education. Please note that identification of relevant financial relationships does not necessarily mean that the individual is unable to participate in the planning and implementation of the education activity. Rather, the accreditation standards require that relevant financial relationships are mitigated before their roles are assumed in the activity. 

Mitigation Statement: All relevant financial relationships listed for these individuals have been mitigated. Please see disclosures for The Spine Journal Executive Editorial Board here.