Peer Reviewer Guidelines

Introduction | Review Assignments | Conducting Reviews | Additional Criteria 
Submitting Reviews | Author Guidelines | Style Guide | FAQ

These guidelines are intended to guide both experienced and new peer reviewers in conducting their reviews of articles submitted to Exchanges. First time reviewers are strongly advised to read these guidance notes thoroughly, before commencing their assigned review.  They were originally (2013) developed in consultation with Warwick’s University Library and the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning, and additionally draw on other academic publishers’ best practices. Any questions regarding these guidelines or the peer review process should be directed in the first instance to the Senior Editor. Authors consulting this page, should also review the notes on ensuring a blind peer-review

General Review Policy

All submitted manuscripts undergo an initial originality review and academic scope screening by the Editorial Board before being considered for peer-review. Exchanges uses a double-blind, editor-mediated and journal facilitated peer-review process. Review text remain the intellectual property of the reviewers and are not publicly disseminated or published. Submissions are typically initially sent to two peer reviewers to gain contrasting submission quality assessments, although more reviewers may be utilised for some works. At the Editor-in Chief’s discretion critical reflections and interviews may not be subject to peer-review but will still undergo a more detailed editorial scrutinising process before acceptance for publication. 

Reviewer Registration

Exchanges encourages readers with an interest in registering as potential peer-reviewers for the title to either indicating this within their profile (roles) section, or by contacting the Editor-in-Chief directly. We welcome reviewers who are established researchers from any disciplinary tradition or field, as well as early career researchers.

Introduction for Peer Reviewers

Thank you for agreeing to act as a peer reviewer for Exchanges: The Interdisciplinary Research Journal. The Editorial Board values the effort and expertise reviewers contribute to maintaining the title’s quality assurance standards. Peer review is a critical element of scholarly publication, which acts as a filter, ensuring research is properly verified before being published, and improves the quality of the research through rigorous review by other experts. It also serves to develop the authorial academic voice of submitting scholars, through the feedback and insight peer-reviewers provide to authors.

All submitted manuscripts are initially read by the Editorial Board. Only those papers which seemingly meet our submission quality criteria, are then sent for formal review, saving time for reviewers and authors alike. The primary purpose of the subsequent peer review process is to provide Exchange’s editors with the insight and information needed to decide whether submissions should be:

(1) Accepted for publication

(2) Required to undergo author revisions

(3) Submitted to further review

(4) Declined for publication.

The Editorial Board then utilises reviewer’s advice to make the journal’s decision on submissions and communicate the outcome to submitting authors. Where papers require revisions, the editor will collate anonymised reviewer feedback recommendations for improvement and communicate these to authors. As Exchanges has a mission to foster emerging and new researchers’ publications, advice on authorial voice, structure and clarity along with scholarly content is especially valued by our authors. Hence, whenever practical, reviewers should indicate how suboptimal pieces could be reworked and strengthened to the point at which they would be acceptable for publication.


Accepting A Review Assignment

Expectations

In general, we expect all reviewers to conform to the basic principles for peer reviewers, as outlined by the Committee for Publication Ethics (COPE). In particular, we would highlight the importance of informing the Editorial Board or Senior Editor in a timely manner if you become unable to complete a review or require a period of extension. We also expect peer reviewers, once they have accepted a review assignment, to respond to enquiries from the Editorial Board as soon as is practical. Peer reviewers who do not meet these expectations, will be removed from active consideration for future peer reviews.

Expertise

As an interdisciplinary title, Exchanges draws on reviewers from across multiple disciplines, as authors usually submit articles intended for a broader audience then more niche or subject specific titles. The Editorial Board are usually aware of the broad content of potential reviewers’ work and the disciplines within which they are situated. However, editors may approach scholars to review submissions less closely or immediately aligned with their own disciplinary traditions, but on which we believe they can bring an expert eye. We encourage reviewers to consider accepting invitations to review submissions whenever they feel sufficiently adept to review its contents. To aid in this decision we provide each submission’s abstract to all invited reviewers.

If you are uncertain as to your suitability to accept an assigned review or wish to suggest a peer or colleague who whom would be a suitable alternative reviewer, please contact the editor to discuss this further.

Time

Reviewing an article can be quite time consuming, as reading the paper and writing the review comments may take a number of hours to complete. Please ensure you have sufficient time before the reviewing deadline stipulated in the review assignment invitation (normally 4 weeks) to conduct a thorough review of the submission. If other commitments mean our deadline appears too short, but you are still willing to review, please contact the editor to discuss an extension, or advise on alternative potential reviewers.

Conflicts of Interest

A conflict of interest will not necessarily eliminate you from reviewing an article, but full disclosure to the Editorial Board will allow them to make an informed decision on whether they are happy for the review to continue or not. Conflicts may include the following:

(1) Working in the same department or institution as one of the authors*
(2) Having previously collaborated or published with an author*
(3) Having a professional, personal or financial connection to the article

*While Exchanges operates a double-blind peer-review process to avoid unconscious bias, it is understood that experienced reviewers may still stylistically recognise an author’s work.

Please notify the editor if you recognise any of these or other conflicts when you reply to an invitation to review, or at any other point in the reviewing process, so we can take this into account in your comments.


Conducting the Review

Please conduct your review confidentially, as the article you have been asked to review should not be disclosed to a third party. If you do wish to gain an opinion from a colleague regarding the submission, you must consult the editor first. To maintain our double-blind peer review process and protect your identity, please do not include any personal details (e.g. name, affiliation etc.,) within your review’s text. Under no circumstances should you attempt to contact the author. Be aware when you submit your review any recommendations you have made will contribute to the final decision on whether to accept the submission for publication, taken by the Editorial Board.

A review form is provided to assist in your evaluation of the article which includes space to comment on the criteria below. Note, as an interdisciplinary title, not every submission to Exchanges will contain every potential aspect, as some disciplinary traditions may be more discursive and less empirical in their research epistemology and methodological constructs. Use your professional judgement in considering if the absence of any of these areas below diminishes the submission’s value, or if it remains a valid and robust scholarly original contribution to the research discourse.

Title: Is it appropriate and succinct? Does it create the right impression for potential readers?

Abstract or Summary: Does it reflect accurately what the paper says? Is it overly wordy or too brief?

Research Question(s): Are these clearly defined and appropriately answered? Do they represent original or insightful enquires?

Methodology/Theory: Is it adequate and robust? Is it clearly described, for less specialist audiences or does it rely on a strong, pre-existing reader familiarity?

Methods/Study Design: Are they adequately described? Are there areas which could be better developed? Are there other approaches which could have been adopted?

Results: Do they respond directly to the research question? Do they seem credible and are they well presented to the reader?

Tables, Illustrations, Figures, Media: Is the quality good enough? Can some be eliminated, or would more be of value? Is the data correct in any tables? Where links to external media are used, do these function adequately? Do the figures and tables inform the reader, are they an important part of the story? Do the figures describe the data accurately and are they consistent: e.g. are bars in charts the same width and the axis scales logical?

Interpretation/Conclusions: Are they warranted by and sufficiently derived from the submissions data or analysis? Is there a clear message or lesson to for readers to take away? Do they add something original to or develop the research discourse?

References: Are they up to date, relevant and correctly formatted? Are there any glaring omissions of key works?


Additional Criteria

We encourage reviewers to respond to the following three broad areas in their review: originality, structure and any ethical concerns.

Originality

Here, we want reviewers to consider if the article is sufficiently novel and interesting to warrant publication? Additionally, does any research question asked represent an important topic? You may find a quick literature search, using tools such as Scopus, can assist in this assessment through identifying if there are any reviews of the area. Where the topic has been addressed previously, you should highlight these citations in your review.

Structure

Here, we encourage reviewers to consider if the article is well-structured and sufficiently guides the readers through the author’s arguments. You may wish to pay particular attention to the following aspects:

Introduction: Does this describe what the author hoped to achieve accurately, and clearly state the problem being investigated? Normally, the introduction should summarise relevant prior research to provide context and situate the article within the literature. It should also explain what other authors' findings, if any, are being challenged, developed or extended. Additionally, any experimental or empirical approach, along with any hypothesis or theoretical framework being deployed in the work, should be described.

Method: Consider also how clearly the author identifies, orders and explains the methods they have used. Particular attention should be applied to considering any novel techniques or original uses of previously established approaches, to ensure they are clearly delineated in the text. Does the author accurately explain how any data was collected, and does this approach seem suitable for answering the posed question? For replicable studies, largely within the natural sciences, is there sufficient information present to replicate the research? Additionally, where any experimental apparatus or materials were required, these too should be clearly defined. Where sampling approaches are detailed, were these appropriate or representative, and what efforts were made to validate the data? How was any data recorded, transcribed or stored, and has the author considered issues of precision and accuracy in their approach?

Results, Findings and Discussions: Here the author should explain what they have discovered, exposed or concluded from their research. As with the other sections, these arguments and insights should be clearly laid out and presented in a logical sequence. Reviewers will need to consider if the appropriate analysis has been conducted, and where used, if any quantitative or statistical information is correct. Finally, they will need to consider if the author’s claims are supported by their results, and if reasonable points have been drawn from the research endeavour.

Conclusion: The author should accurately and concisely summarise the key lessons, insights and outcomes from their research endeavour. These should be related back to their initial expectations, questions and prior published research. Reviewers should examine if the author’s conclusions support, contradict or overtly challenge prior theory, and how valid a position this represents. In particular, they should explore how the conclusion has moved forward the scholarly discourse, practice, literature or body of academic knowledge.

Language: Where an article is generally poorly written, in terms of grammar, spelling, syntax or structure, we encourage reviewers to highlight this in their review. We do not expect reviewers to provide a detailed list of corrections, but rather to bring the editor’s attention to any problems in this respect in their review report. Badly written, but worthy scholarly submissions, may be returned to authors for extensive revision, or declined for publication, depending on the Editorial Board’s decision.

Ethical Concerns

While submissions undergo originality screening, via Turnitin, before being assigned to peer review, it is possible reviewers may identify other ethical concerns during their reviewing process. If so, it is important these are clearly communicated to the Editorial Board, as ethical issues can in many instances provide a strong rationale for declining the submission for publication. Areas of ethical concern reviewers may wish to highlight include, but are not limited to, the following:

Plagiarism: If reviewers suspect an article is a substantial copy of another work, please notify the editor in your review, citing the previous work in as much detail as possible.

Fraud: While it is very difficult to detect the determined academic fraudster, if you suspect the results in an article to be untrue, fraudulent or duplicitous, please highlight this in your comments to the editor.

Other Concerns: For research involving individuals (e.g. medical, sociological, etc.,) has confidentiality and/or informed consent of subjects been maintained? Does the article include practices which you recognise as a violation of accepted norms in the ethical treatment of animal or human subjects? Again, if there are issues here, these concerns should be highlighted to the editor in your report.

First time reviewers may also find it beneficial to read the COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers, as this provides some very useful additional information.


Communicating Your Report to the Editor

Once you have completed your evaluation of the article, the next step is to write up your reviewer’s report, which we ask reviewers to submit via our secure online system. To assist you in this submission, Exchanges provides reviewers with an online template to complete, which highlights the various aspects of the paper to be reviewed. There is also space to make general remarks to authors, along with confidential comments which can only be seen by the Editorial Board. It is helpful to briefly summarise your review’s conclusions at the beginning of your report, which provides the editor an overview of your thoughts, and context for authors as to your critique.

The report should contain the key elements of your review, addressing the points outlined above. Exchanges encourages reviewer’s commentary to represent a courteous and constructive intellectual critique of the text, rather than overt criticism of it or the author. As each submission to Exchanges usually has multiple reviewers, often drawn from differing disciplinary backgrounds, the Editorial Board will take a final decision on whether to accept or reject a paper based on sometimes conflicting advice. Hence, it can be beneficial to set out clear arguments for and against publication, rather than making a singular recommendation within your review text.

Final Assessment

However, reviewers are asked at the end of the review to provide a final clear assessment, based on their professional experience, of what steps the Editorial Board should take next with the submission. These are as follows:

a) Accept Submission: Paper to be accepted, and prepared for publication as submitted.

b) Revisions Required: Paper should be accepted, provided author makes suggested improvements to the text. This is the most frequently selected response.

c) Resubmit for Review: The article is promising, but you are unable to decide if it is sufficiently scholarly for publication, and further reviewer comments are needed.

d) Decline Submission: For reasons outlined in your review, the paper falls short of suitability for publication in an academic journal.

This review submission normally marks the end of the peer review process, and Exchanges thanks you for your intellectual labour and contribution to maintaining our journal’s professional practices and quality levels.

Secondary Review

When reviewers agree to assess a submission to Exchanges, we consider this a commitment to review subsequent revisions (if Revisions Required is the Editorial Board’s decision). However, editors will not send a resubmitted paper back to the reviewers, if it seems authors have made insufficient efforts to address the prior critique and recommendations for improvements.