How to provide peer review feedback

June 6, 2012

There is no single correct way to conduct a peer review of a writer’s manuscript or submission to a journal. Every publication will have its own guidelines and standards. However, if you are brand new to reviewing a peer’s work here are some factors to consider:

Organization and structure

  • Does the work have a clearly articulated title?
  • Is the work organized and structured in a logical manner?
  • Does the manuscript contain explicit headings, making it easier for you to read?


  • Does the introduction articulate the point of the paper?
  • Does the introduction contain key words and phrases to help readers find the paper once it is in circulation?
  • Does the introduction clearly establish the value of the paper?

The problem / context / research question

  • Does the writer provide a clearly articulated research question or problem?
  • Is this problem situated in a historical, geographical and professional context?
  • Is this question original? If this sounds like something that has been studied to death, then it is unlikely to be original. Journal articles are meant to contribute new knowledge, fresh perspectives to the ongoing dialogue in the field.

Significance of the work

  • What rationale does the writer provide for his or her work?
  • Does the writer link their manuscript to the particular journal he or she has chosen? Many writers submit manuscripts without targeting them to a particular journal or relating their manuscript to the theme or purpose of the journal. Reviewers regularly reject such articles.
  • Why should we, as readers and professionals, care about this manuscript?

Discussion and argument

  • Does the author define and develop a cogent argument?
  • Is the argument logical?
  • Does the argument influence and persuade you as a reader?
  • How sophisticated is this argument?


  • Has the author provided clear and succinct conclusions?
  • Are the conclusions logically linked to the introduction and the argument?
  • Has the author restated the relevance of this research, in terms of already-published literature in the field?
  • Does the conclusion highlight the significance of the author’s manuscript in the larger research and professional context?
  • Has the writer provided directions for future research or recommendations for professional practice?


  • Are all the references mentioned in the body of the paper cited properly in the References section at the end of the paper? (Manuscripts with missing references are almost always automatically rejected by journals.)
  • Do the references at the end of the paper meet style guide standards, such as APA or Chicago style? (Sloppy references are also cause for rejection.)

General assessment

Is this a manuscript you think is worthy of publication? Why or why not? What changes would strengthen it in order to make it suitable for publication? Provide recommendations for revision.

Your mission is to objectively examine the work as a professional and scholarly critic. This is not an exhaustive list of criteria to consider, by any means. It is a list to give the novice manuscript reviewer a place to start.


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Notos Journal: Call for Submissions

March 17, 2011

Do you have research, expertise or classroom best practices on language learning and intercultural education to share? Does your work have a focus on Alberta? If yes, listen up!

Recently I was invited to take on the position of Guest Editor for Notos, the official journal of the Second Languages and Intercultural Council (SLIC) of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA).

Notos is a peer reviewed scholarly journal that links the academy with the classroom. The contents include an eclectic range of conventional articles, reviews and creative writing.

The Journal invites manuscripts for its upcoming issue. Of particular interest are submissions that:

  • highlight the issues of culture and second languages in Alberta;
  • enhance the knowledge, skills and understanding of teachers in the areas of second languages and culture;
  • discuss existing practices, programs and resources;
  • showcase research being done in Alberta on second languages, language pedagogy, innovation in second languages and intercultural education; and
  • offer advice and expertise to both in-service and pre-service language teachers in the province of Alberta.

Submissions should be between 2500 and 10,000 words. In keeping with the mandate of the Council, articles appear in several languages (preferrably those languages taught in Alberta schools). All submissions are reviewed by the Editorial board, who reserve the right to select those submissions they feel are the most appropriate for the journal.

Deadline for Winter 2011 submissions is April 15, 2011.

Direct queries and manuscripts to:
Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, Guest Editor, Notos
University of Calgary, Language Research Centre
seaton (at)

Please help me share this call for submissions with language professionals all over Alberta. Forward this post, tweet it or download a .pdf copy of the call for submissions from Scribd and share it around!


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