The Journal of Engineering Education (JEE) seeks to promote positive relationships between authors and peer reviewers, even as we uphold high standards for publishable work. When you review a submitted manuscript, we ask that you adopt a collegial tone. As you identify areas for improvement in the manuscript itself, please offer constructive critiques that can help the authors advance their scholarship.
Your review has two purposes: to provide the editor and associate editor with enough information to make a decision, and to provide the authors with effective guidance to enable them to revise the manuscript for publication. These guidelines should help you structure your review to benefit both editors and authors. In addition, to help everyone develop reviewing skills, JEE forwards the blinded reviews and final decisions about each submission to its reviewers.
If you have not previously reviewed for JEE or published in JEE, please examine the Review Criteria section of the Author Guidelines.
Consider the following structure when composing and organizing a review of a manuscript submitted to JEE: (1) recommendation, (2) summary, (3) major concerns, and (4) detailed comments. All main sections of the manuscript should be addressed (e.g., background, methods, results, and conclusions), whether they are simply summarized or identified as needing revision. The tone of the review should be constructive and respectful. Additional suggestions for how to save and submit comments are provided below.
CONTENT OF REVIEW
These are suggestions for organizing reviews; they are recommended, not required.
Recommendation JEE reviewers make recommendations to the editor: Accept with Minor Revisions, Minor Revisions (Only Editor Review Needed), Major Revisions (May Require Another Peer Review), Do Not Publish Manuscript (For Reasons Indicated In Review). The editor takes the reviewers’ recommendations into consideration for a final decision on the manuscript. A few notes about recommendations:
- If revisions involve mainly rewriting, reframing, or reorganizing the study, recommend Minor or Major Revisions, depending on the extent of the revisions needed.
- If revisions involve reanalyzing the data or collecting additional data, Do Not Publish may be more appropriate.
- If the reviewers and the editor believe that even with major revisions, the manuscript would not be acceptable for publication, the recommendation should be to reject, which indicates that JEE will no longer consider the manuscript for publication. The editor may suggest alternate outlets for publication.
Summary Describe your understanding of the main objective(s), methods, findings, and conclusions of the manuscript. This description indicates to the authors how you are framing your critique, and whether any of your concerns about the study are based on misunderstandings of the manuscript. You can also indicate whether any of the main points were confusing to help authors see where their writing was unclear. Keep in mind that JEE typically publishes two types of manuscripts: empirical investigations and research reviews. You should consider the purposes of the specific type of manuscript that you are reviewing.
Major concerns Identify main points of your critique, either in relative order of importance or in the order in which they appear in the manuscript. Avoid vague criticisms. Focus instead on what needs to be edited or improved, and give specific recommendations on how to address deficiencies. Suggest additional resources. It is helpful to distinguish between concerns that prevent the publication of the manuscript (e.g., an inappropriate research methodology, or a failure to account for significant prior work) from concerns that require substantive revision (e.g., the discussion does not yet situate the results in the context of the literature).
Detailed comments Itemize minor flaws (spelling, grammar, inconsistencies, confusing statements, etc.) and recommend corrections. If you find a common error pattern rather than occasional typographical errors, simply identify the pattern (e.g., “the manuscript seems to misuse commas throughout”). Remember, however, that your job as a reviewer is to comment on the broad content of the manuscript. The copy editor will work with the authors to polish the text.
TONE OF REVIEW
Ideally, reviewers are scholars who are knowledgeable, conscientious, courteous, and who complete their reviews in a timely fashion. While we may not always reach this ideal, reviewers should always use a respectful tone when describing their concerns about a manuscript. Avoid harsh or condescending comments. Keep in mind that authors invested considerable time and effort in conducting their studies. Reviewers should be aware of the usefulness of their comments to the author, the very safe position of an anonymous reviewer, and the impact that unnecessarily negative or condescending comments can have on an individual.
It is a good practice to put yourself in the author’s position and consider your own reaction when reading your review back to yourself. The goal of peer review is to provide constructive criticism that helps authors identify ways to improve their work. By generously sharing your expertise with others in professional and constructive ways, you will help advance the field of engineering education.
SAVE AND SUBMIT OF REVIEW
Save comments to the editor and authors in a text file (i.e., a Word document), then copy and paste them into the appropriate fields in ScholarOne. Do not attach a pdf of the manuscript with embedded com-ments; typically the reviewer’s name or initials will appear in the comment window and/or the document properties, in which case the editor cannot send the pdf to the authors.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR REVIEWERS
These guidelines were adapted from an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Peer Reviewing the Peer Reviews,” by Angela Heetderks (June 28, 2016). The article cites a white paper by David Huron that provides specific guidelines and tips for reviewers.
Another good resource for reviewers is Thomas Nelson’s “Critiquing Scholarship as Formal Review: The Role and Responsibilities of Readers for Academic Journals,” Issues in Teacher Education, vol. 20, no. 1 (Spring 2011), 5–15.