First time for everything – peer reviewing for a journal!

A few months back, I expressed interest in serving as a peer reviewer for an educational journal, mainly to get a chance to see and critique manuscripts before attempting to submit my own.

Well, the editor contacted me and sent a manuscript my way this week, asking for my review by mid-January.  Do you think he’ll mind that I put everything aside and jumped on the task immediately?  Nothing like the nearing of a Mayan doomsday to encourage you to take advantage of new opportunities and challenges, right?

I was invigorated by the exercise – reading emerging research, giving commentary on strengths and weaknesses, asking more questions.  It’s what I love to do.

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Now reflecting back on the experience, I’m wondering…

  • if the editor will mind that I printed the document, wrote on it by hand (it helps me to process when I can mark it up with pen), and scanned the resulting copy.  Or is Microsoft Word with tracking edits preferable from his perspective…  Oops!  Should have asked his preference up front.
  • if I was too tough on the authors’ discussion of findings.  They gave good advice to practitioners, but it wasn’t connected to their findings.  Yes, that might be good practice, but it’s beyond the scope of your research in my opinion… Hope I’m not perceived as a jerk, but as a coach who’s pushing for a better product.  Good thing it’s a blind process.
  • if this paper represents a stellar, average, or sub-par example of a submission to this journal.  I’ve decided to consult the web archives and skim a few past issues to calibrate my critique… A task I’ll tackle tomorrow, assuming the Mayans were wrong.  All indicators point to that assumption thankfully.

At the very least, it was fun, and I’m more ready to write my own journal manuscript submissions than I was previously.

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2 thoughts on “First time for everything – peer reviewing for a journal!

  1. It sounds to me as if you are right on, except you probably should have used Word. Reviewers perform no service by being lenient; if the reviewer lets something get past, then the paper will either be publicly picked apart by colleagues after publication (no picnic for the author), or people from other fields will read it and lose respect for education research as a field. A little harshness now saves the author anguish later and protects the reputation of entire field of study.

  2. Cindy, it’s official – I’ll use the functionality in Word next time. You’re absolutely right about the need for harshness for the sake of reputation for both author/researcher and journal. That commitment to quality is what I would want – and what kept me marking it up. Hehe. 🙂

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