JRTDD indexed in HAW Hamburg

Dear readers,

JRTDD has been indexed in HAW Hamburg. What is HAW Hamburg?

Developing sustainable solutions to the societal challenges of today and tomorrow. This is the goal of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg), northern Germany’s leading applied sciences university when it comes to reflective practice. Our central focus is the excellence of our teaching and our degree courses. Simultaneously, HAW Hamburg is continuing to develop its profile as a research university. People from more than 100 countries help make HAW Hamburg what it is, and our diversity is our particular strength.

Source: https://www.haw-hamburg.de/en/university/

JRTDD uses Turnitin plagiarism program

Dear readers,

I want to inform you that we started to use Turnitin plagiarism program. Here, I want to express my gratitude to vice rector Prof. Dr. Sebastjan Kristovič from Alma Mater Europea University and their IT staff who provide us with this service. Our fruitful cooperation will continued in the future.

What is Turnitin?

Turnitin is an originality checking and plagiarism prevention service that checks your writing for citation mistakes or inappropriate copying.    When you submit your paper, Turnitin compares it to text in its massive database of student work, websites, books, articles, etc.    

Turnitin is integrated into the Assignments tool in all online classrooms and is managed by Classroom Support.  This means that when you upload your paper to your classroom for grading, it will automatically be sent through Turnitin’s repository.  The Similarity Report that it generates will  help identify possible instances of plagiarism

JRTDD Editor-in-chief

IN MEMORIAM Gjorgji Pop Gjorgjiev 1984-2020

Resepcted readers,

We are very sad to announce that on October 23, 2020, in the early morning hours, our web administrator Gjorgji Pop Gjorgjiev died at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases in Skopje, after a short illness. He was born in Berovo, Macedonia in 1984. He was the web support specialist of the Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation in the period 2014-2017. He has been a web support specialist to the Journal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversity since its inception in April 2018. During all this time he invested very enthusiastically and selflessly in the growth of the journal. We spent many hours together working on this journal. His family and our journal lost a lot with his untimely death.
Rest in peace my dear colleague and friend!

JRTDD Editor-in-chief

JRTDD has been indexed in Research4Life

Dear readers,

JRTDD has been indexed in Research4Life.

What is Research4Life?

Research4Life is the collective name for five programmes – Hinari, AGORA, OARE, ARDI and GOALI – that provide developing countries with free or low-cost access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content online.


Research4Life is a public-private partnership of WHO, FAO, UNEP, WIPO, ILO, Cornell and Yale Universities, the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers and up to 160 international publisher partners. The goal of Research4Life is to reduce the knowledge gap between high-income countries and low- and middle-income countries by providing affordable access to scholarly, professional and research information.

Since 2002, the five programs – Research for Health (Hinari), Research in Agriculture (AGORA), Research in the Environment (OARE), Research for Development and Innovation (ARDI) and Research for Global Justice (GOALI) – have provided researchers at more than 10,000 institutions in over 120 low- and middle-income countries with free or low-cost online access to up 119,000 leading journals and books in the fields of health, agriculture, environment, applied sciences and legal information.

Source: https://www.research4life.org/about/

Why having your journals indexed in Google Scholar matters more than ever and steps to get started

If you ask any researcher which online outlets they use to find relevant journal articles, there’s a good chance that Google Scholar will be at the top of their list. The 2018 “How Readers Discover Content in Scholarly Publications“ report found that researchers rated academic search engines as “the most important discovery resource when searching for journal articles,” and Google Scholar is among the most widely used free academic search engines available. A 2015 survey on 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication also found that 92% of academics surveyed used Google Scholar.

With so many researchers using Google Scholar, it’s a search engine that all journal publishers should prioritize. Google Scholar stands apart as one of the most accessible and sophisticated academic search engines available. Inclusion in Google Scholar can help expand the accessibility, reach, and, consequently, the impacts of the articles you publish.

Despite the seemingly magical ability of Google to answer any search query with endless results, it’s important for publishers to know that the search engine can only index content its crawlers are able to find (more on crawlers below!). Google Scholar also has specific inclusion criteria. If you want all of your journal articles to be added to Google Scholar, you must take steps to ensure that they can be found by the search engine and that Google Scholar recognizes your journal website as a legitimate source.

In this blog post, we overview how Google Scholar works, the benefits of Google Scholar indexing, and what you need to know to have your journal articles added to Google Scholar. Let’s get started!

What is Google Scholar exactly and how does it work?

Since you’re reading this blog post, you likely know about Google Scholar as an academic search tool. But you may not be entirely sure of how Google Scholar processes content or how it compares to Google’s general search engine. Before we get into the specific benefits of Google Scholar and its inclusion requirements, let’s first take a look at what Google Scholar is exactly and how it works.

Like Google, Google Scholar is a crawler-based search engine. Crawler-based search engines are able to index machine-readable metadata or full-text files automatically using “web crawlers,” also known as “spiders” or “bots,” which are automated internet programs that systematically “crawl” websites to identify and ingest new content.

Google Scholar has access to all of the crawlable scholarly content published on the web, with the ability to index entire publisher and journal websites as well as the ability to use the citations in the articles it has indexed to find other related content. Google Scholar includes content across academic disciplines, from all countries, and in all languages. Recent research, including Michael Gusenbauer’s article “Google Scholar to overshadow them all? Comparing the sizes of 12 academic search engines and bibliographic databases,” has found that Google Scholar is the world’s largest academic search engine, containing over 380 million records.

A common misconception about Google Scholar is that it indexes all of the content it has access to regardless of the content type or quality. This is not the case. Rather, as explained in “Academic Search Engine Optimization (ASEO): Optimizing Scholarly Literature for Google Scholar & Co.,” Google Scholar is an “invitation based search engine.” This means that “only articles from trusted sources and articles that are ‘invited’ (cited) by articles already indexed are included in the database.” On its website Google Scholar states, “we work with publishers of scholarly information to index peer-reviewed papers, theses, preprints, abstracts, and technical reports from all disciplines of research and make them searchable on Google and Google Scholar.”

In order for your journals to be considered for inclusion in Google Scholar, the content on your website must first meet two basic criteria:

  1. Consist primarily of journal articles (e.g. original research articles, technical reports)
  2. Make freely available either the full-text or the complete author-written abstract for all articles (without requiring human or search engine robot readers to log into your site, install specific software, accept any disclaimers etc.)

From there your journal website and articles will have to meet certain technical specifications, which we outline below. Before we get into that, let’s first take a look at some of the specific benefits Google Scholar offers journals and how to tell if your articles are being included in the search engine.

Why should I get my journals indexed in Google Scholar?

We’ve talked about the broad research benefits of Google Scholar, but you may be wondering — what are the specific benefits of Google Scholar indexing for the journals I publish? Google Scholar indexing can greatly expand the reach of your journal articles and improve the chances of your articles being read, shared, and cited online. A primary benefit of Google Scholar is that, unlike other databases, its search functionality focuses on individual articles, not entire journals. So having your articles indexed in Google Scholar can help more scholars discover the journals you publish when those articles show up in keyword and key phrase searches.

Getting your journal articles indexed in Google Scholar will:

  • Increase the reach of your individual journal articles because more scholars will be likely to find them
  • Give scholars an easy way to gauge how relevant your articles are to their research based on the article title and search snippet you provide
  • Help resurface old articles from the journals you publish — Google Scholar takes citations into account and shows more frequently cited works earlier in search results

For open access journals the importance of Google Scholar indexing is even greater. If you want your content to be accessible, making it freely available isn’t enough — you have to be sure that anyone can find your journal articles on the web and that they aren’t only available to scholars with access to subscription-based academic abstracting and indexing databases or prior knowledge of your journals (i.e. scholar knows to search for your specific journal website). Google Scholar makes it possible for anyone to freely search for and find relevant scholarly content on the web from anywhere in the world.

How can I tell if my journal is being indexed by Google Scholar?

As noted, Google Scholar doesn’t just index all of the content it can access on the web. Rather, it seeks to index content from what it deems to be “trusted” publication websites. If other articles from trusted websites have cited a journal article Google Scholar will know to index it, but any content that is not published on a “trusted” website and that has not been cited by an article already included in Google Scholar will not be indexed right away.

In order for Google Scholar to deem a journal website trustworthy, it must follow all of Google Scholar’s technical guidelines. Journal publishers should also contact Google Scholar to request inclusion in the index. If you’re not sure whether your journals are being indexed by Google Scholar, you can quickly check by searching your journal website domain (e.g. www.examplejournal.com) in scholar.google.com.

What steps can I take to get my journals indexed by Google Scholar?

If you find that one or more of the journals you publish are not yet being indexed by Google Scholar you’ll need to take some steps to get them added to the search engine.

Google Scholar has thorough Inclusion Guidelines for Webmasters that detail how to get your articles added to the index.

Some steps you may need to take include:

  • Checking your HTML or PDF file formats to make sure the text is searchable
  • Configuring your website to export bibliographic data in HTML meta tags
  • Publishing all articles on separate webpages (i.e. each article should have its own URL)
  • Making sure that your journal websites are available to both users and crawlers at all times
  • Making sure you have a browse interface that can be crawled by Google’s robots
  • Placing each article and each abstract in a separate HTML or PDF file (Google Scholar will not index multiple articles in the same PDF)

Google Scholar’s indexing guidelines can get pretty technical. If your journal or journals are currently hosted on a standalone website that you had custom-built or that you’re hosting via an outside provider like WordPress, you’ll need to either work with available internal IT resources to make any necessary updates or hire a web developer.

If you don’t want to deal with the technical aspects of getting your journal articles indexed in Google Scholar, you may want to consider moving your journal to a website hosted on a journal publishing platform that can take care of Google Scholar indexing for you. For example, Scholastica is already recognized as a trusted site by Google Scholar so all journals that publish via Scholastica journal websites are automatically indexed with no extra work on the part of the editors. Some journal databases, such as JSTOR or Project Muse, are also indexed by Google Scholar. So if you publish via a Google Scholar indexed aggregator or database, or if you regularly upload articles to one, you may also be able to have articles added to Google Scholar through it. You’ll want to check with any journal hosting platform or aggregator to make sure that they support indexing in Google Scholar.

However you decide to go about getting your journal articles indexed by Google Scholar, now’s the time to start! Google Scholar indexing is sure to expand the accessibility and reach of the articles you publish.

Source: https://blog.scholasticahq.com/

5 ways to increase peer review transparency to foster greater trust in the process

Another Peer Review Week is upon us, and this year’s theme, “Trust in Peer Review,” comes at a particularly apt time. The COVID-19 pandemic and other recent global crises have magnified the role of peer review as a mechanism to ensure research quality while, in many ways, putting trust in peer review to the test. Pressures on journal editorial teams and volunteer referees to peer review larger volumes of papers at record speeds have raised concerns in and outside of academia about the potential for higher levels of human error in an inherently imperfect process.

The pandemic aside, since peer review became part of scholarly publishing (a mere ~60 years ago in the 350+ year history of journals!), concerns about flawed peer review processes, overburdened reviewers, and reviewer biases have put peer review on shaky ground. Studies in the early 2010s revealing the ongoing replication crisis in many disciplines marked a particularly apprehensive time in peer reviews’ history. However, despite some discontent with the current state of peer review, surveys conducted in recent years, including Publons’ 2018 “Global State of Peer Review“ report, have revealed that most researchers want to work to improve peer review rather than replace or bypass it. Across academia, stakeholders in scholarly journal publishing have responded by placing greater emphasis on vetting and improving peer review practices, as exhibited by last year’s Peer Review Week, themed “Quality in Peer Review.” As stakeholders work to fortify peer review, the question now is — what can be done to build up and, in many cases, rebuild trust in the process?

With the curtain pulled back on peer reviews’ bumps and bruises for all to see, arguably, one of the best courses of action to address its limitations is to readily acknowledge them and work to make peer review practices more transparent. In this post, we round up five ways to increase peer review transparency that could help foster greater trust in the process.

Putting research questions and methods before findings

One of the primary concerns about the efficacy of peer review expressed in recent years is that the predominant peer review model — where scholars design studies, conduct them, write reports, and then receive feedback — may be contributing to the reproducibility crisis by hindering the publication of null and negative results. During a keynote address for the 2019 International Society of Managing and Technical Editors Conference (ISMTE), Brian Nosek, Executive Director for the Center for Open Science, discussed how in the “publish or perish” research culture dominated by the Journal Impact Factor and other citation-based incentive systems, tidily packaged positive research outcomes are often favored by journals over negative or inconclusive ones. As a result, scholars may be compelled to, intentionally or not, introduce research spin into their work.

To address concerns about the potential for research spin and biases against null and negative results, the Registered Reports publishing format has been gaining ground in recent years. In the Registered Reports format, peer review is split into two parts:

  1. An initial peer review of the study concept and design, used to make an acceptance or rejection determination
  2. Peer review of the finished paper — this review stage is solely to assess the quality of the research contents, not the nature of the findings

Notably, the journal Royal Society Open Science recently initiated an expedited pre-registration process for coronavirus-related submissions to help scholars avoid following false leads. Journals interested in implementing the Registered Reports publishing format can find many helpful resources on The Center for Open Science website.

Employing more open peer review practices

Once studies have been completed and peer review is underway, another trust concern many have expressed is a lack of transparency around the robustness of journal peer review, the rationale behind publication decisions, and the identities of those doing the reviewing. Journals can address high-level uncertainties about the nature of their peer review processes by providing detailed peer review policies on their publication websites. As for making the recommendations and/or identities of peer reviewers more transparent, some journals are now experimenting with more open peer review practices. Definitions and levels of open peer review can vary substantially, but the term generally refers to one or a combination of the following practices:

  • Publishing review reports alongside journal articles to make reviewer recommendations open
  • Making author and reviewer identities open to both parties and readers
  • Soliciting public peer review comments in addition to or in lieu of invited reviews

Proponents of open peer review practices argue that they promote accountability and allow for reviewer recognition. Of course there are also arguments on the opposite side of the spectrum in favor of blinded peer review to prevent skewed referee reports. For example, some argue when reviewers know the identities of authors, there is the potential for them to make recommendations based on implicit biases. As exhibited by the various definitions of open peer review, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. So this is an area where journals can and likely should weigh the pros and cons of different models as they apply to their discipline and particular publication to determine the best course of action for them.

Developing shared peer-review standards and taxonomies

Another fundamental aspect of increasing peer review transparency and ultimately trust in the process is developing more universal peer-review standards and nomenclature (to help with hurdles in communicating peer review policies like the many definitions of “open peer review”). STM recently launched a “Working Group on Peer Review Taxonomy” to address the definitional component of peer review standards that journal publishers should keep on their radar, the first draft of which is available here. Another recent example of developing shared publishing definitions that can help increase research transparency and, consequently, trust in peer review is the CRediT – Contributor Roles Taxonomy initiative, which introduces naming conventions for different types of author roles.

In addition to working to develop shared peer review taxonomies, scholarly publishing stakeholders have been exploring new methods of normalizing and expressing journal publishing standards, including via the TOP Factor. Launched by the Center for Open Science in February 2020, TOP Factor is a new journal assessment system based on the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines, which consists of eight publishing standards to improve research transparency and reproducibility. TOP Factor has the potential to foster a uniform shared framework for implementing and demonstrating adherence to journal publishing best practices, which would increase peer review transparency and make it easier to compare publisher processes and norms. The TOP Guidelines also promote FAIR data principles and open data, which could help to foster a more self-correcting research environment.

Facilitating the sharing of review reports across journals

Finally, a mounting trust concern to be addressed is the increasing peer-review burden faced by many scholars. As the rate of articles published across disciplines continues to increase, many worry that reviewers will struggle to keep up, potentially leading to more research errors slipping through the cracks. Adding another plot twist — in reality, a lot of the review work placed on scholars is redundant because they are being asked to vet papers that have already undergone peer review elsewhere.

One possible solution to help alleviate the peer review pressures scholars face is the Manuscript Exchange Common Approach (MECA), an initiative launched by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) in May 2018. MECA aims to develop a framework for transferring manuscripts and review reports between different peer review systems. According to the MECA website sharing review reports between journals could help save an estimated “15 million hours of researcher time [that] is wasted each year repeating reviews.” In the same vein, the C19 Rapid Review Initiative, a large-scale collaboration among 20 publishers to improve the efficiency of coronavirus-related research processing, is piloting a version of review report sharing by requiring reviewers to consent to have their identities and review reports shared among participating publishers’ and journals.

Putting it all together

The fact that peer review is imperfect, like any human endeavor, is no secret or surprise. Working to make all aspects of the peer review process more transparent could help safeguard against inevitable human errors. At the same time, it could expand the potential for more widespread assessment of peer review approaches and outcomes, something that scholars argue is needed to improve and increase trust in peer review.

Source: https://blog.scholasticahq.com/

JRTDD has been indexed into DOAJ

Dear readers,

It my pleasure to announce you that Journal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversities has been indexed into DOAJ. It is a great achievement of editorial office which worked very hard in last months.

What is DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)?

DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. DOAJ is independent. All funding is via donations, 18% of which comes from sponsors and 82% from members and publisher members. All DOAJ services are free of charge including being indexed in DOAJ. All data is freely available.

DOAJ operates an education and outreach program across the globe, focussing on improving the quality of applications submitted.

JRTDD Editor-in-chief

Guidelines for Book Review

The Journal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversities (JRTDD) will publish book reviews on major books across fields and sub- fields covered by the journal.

  • If you are interested in reviewing a book for the Journal, please send an expression of interest to the Editor-in-chief on journaljrtdd@gmail.com.
  • Authors and publishers should also contact the Editor if they would like their books to be reviewed in the journal.

The JRTDD seeks reviews that assess a book’s strengths and weaknesses and locate it within the current field of scholarship. A review should not simply be a listing of contents, though its overall organization and emphasis are up to the individual reviewer. Reviewers should avoid lists of minor imperfections (e.g. misplaced commas) but should not hesitate to draw attention to serious editorial problems and errors of fact or interpretation. It is also helpful if reviewers indicate for which audiences and libraries the book seems appropriate. The Book Review Editors reserve the right to edit for content and length. In summary, book reviews should be timely and objective and should consider the following:

  • The intended audience for the book and who would find it useful
  • The main ideas and major objectives of the book and how effectively these are accomplished
  • The soundness of methods and information sources used
  • The context or impetus for the book – political controversy, review research or policy, etc
  • Constructive comments about the strength and weaknesses of the book

Book reviews for the Journal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversities should be should be double spaced, using a standard sized font Times New Roman. All material, including long quotes, should be double-spaced. Please use minimal style formatting in your document. Reviews of single books should be between 750-1000 words.

The review should begin with a hanging indent paragraph for each book in the review that includes its title, subtitle, author/s or (editor/s), and publishing information in the following format:

All subsequent paragraphs should be indented. There are no footnotes in the Journal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversities book reviews. References to texts not under review should be parenthetical only. Also, please type your name and institution, exactly as you wish it to be published, at the end of the review. For example: Frederik Johnson, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The following information should be given about the book being reviewed at the start of each review:

  • Author/Editor Name, Book Title, Publisher, Year of Publication, ISBN: 000-0-00-000000-0, Number of Pages, Price

What is Open Peer Review?

Peer review is a way by which manuscripts can be assessed for their quality. Reviewers scrutinize the draft of a journal article, grant application, or other work and provide feedback to the author(s) for improving the text. Reviewers don’t just read the text, but also evaluate whether the research presented is sound, whether the methods used in the research are in keeping with basic scientific protocols, and whether the analysis of the results is valid. In addition, reviewers need to determine whether the subject matter (e.g., a research study) is in keeping with the journal’s particular field of study and is a novel scientific concept to warrant publishing it.

Even with the system in place, there are conflicting views about peer review and their merits. Most researchers believe that the current peer review system is lacking. However, they also agree that peer reviews are valuable in helping improve their papers, which help get them published. Still, a 2008 study revealed approximately one-third of those asked thought that the system could be improved.

Reviewer Anonymity

As mentioned, peer reviewers also assess grant applications and this process has its flaws. In an article in Times Higher Education, the author describes the grant review process as one of stifling innovative research and paring down each application into a numerical score. Funding sources presume that the reviewers are unbiased and knowledgeable. The funding agencies often base their decisions on these scores without having ever read the actual research proposal. The suggestion of having reviewers reveal their identities would remove any doubt of reviewer qualifications and hopes to hold the reviewers more accountable for these types of scoring protocols.

In an article published on F1000 Research, an open-research publishing platform, author Tony Ross-Hellauer describes some of the criticisms of the anonymous peer review as follows:

  • Unreliable and inconsistent: Reviewers rarely agree with one another. Decisions to reject or accept a paper are not consistent. Papers have been known to be published but then rejected when resubmitted to the same journal later.
  • Publication delays and costs: At times, the traditional peer review process can delay publication of an article for a year or more. When “time is money” and research opportunities must be taken advantage of, this delay can be a huge cost to the researcher.
  • No accountability: Because of anonymity, reviewers can be biased, have conflicts of interest, or purposely give a bad review (or even a stellar review) because of some personal agenda.
  • Biases: Although they should remain impartial, reviewers have biases based on sex, nationality, language or other characteristics of the author(s). They can also be biased against the study subject or new methods of research.
  • No incentives: In most countries, reviewers volunteer their time. Some feel that this is part of their job as a scholar; however, others might feel unappreciated for their time and talent. This might have an impact on the reviewer’s incentive to perform.
  • Wasted information: Discussions between editors and reviewers or between reviewers and authors are often valuable information for younger researchers. It can help provide them with guidelines for the publishing process. Unfortunately, this information is never passed on.


Because of these obvious dissatisfactions with the peer review process, a change to “open peer review” or “OPR” has been suggested. The premise is that an open peer review process would avoid many of the issues listed above.

What Is OPR?

OPR was first considered about 30 years ago but became more popular in the 1990s. Originally defined only as revealing a reviewer’s identity, it has now expanded to include other innovations. Although suggested as a means by which to help streamline the process and ensure honest reviews, the actual definition OPR has eluded those in the research and publishing fields. A plethora of different meanings prompted a study on the accepted definitions of the term.

In an article published on F1000 Research, author Tony Ross-Hellauer delves into the several different definitions of OPR and created a “corpus of 122 definitions” for the study. Ross-Hellauer reminds us that there is yet no standard definition of OPR. On the contrary, many definitions overlap and even contradict each other as follows:

  • Identities of both author and reviewer are disclosed,
  • Reviewer reports are published alongside articles,
  • Both of these conditions,
  • Not just invited experts are able to comment, and/or
  • Combinations of these and other new methods.


These definitions are very open ended and those discussing OPR use one, some, or all of these in combination.

The Study on OPR

Ross-Hellauer reviewed the literature (e.g., Web of Science, PubMed, Google Scholar, and BioMed) for articles that mentioned “open review” or OPR and found 122 definitions of the term! The author then reviewed and classified all 122 definitions according to a set of traits that were new to the traditional peer review process. He concluded by defining seven traits of OPR and offered these as a basis for the definition of OPR as follows:

  • Open identities: Authors’ and reviewers’ identities revealed.
  • Open reports: Reviews published with the article.
  • Open participation: Readers able to contribute to review process.
  • Open interaction: Reciprocal discussions between parties.
  • Open pre-review manuscripts: Manuscripts immediately available before formal peer review.
  • Open final-version commenting: Review or commenting on final “version of record” publications.
  • Open platforms: Review facilitated entity other than the venue of publication.


It appears from various studies that OPR is a valuable revision to the old peer review process and its anonymity. Although most agree that peer review has always been valuable, it is not without its faults. There is hope that the OPR system will eliminate much of these criticisms.

Resource: https://www.enago.com/

4 ways to get higher quality peer review comments

Does the quality of the peer review comments your journal receives vary more than it should?

Well-thought-out reviewer comments aside, many editorial teams find that they too often receive comments that are:

  • Meandering and difficult to interpret
  • Sparse or lacking the level of detail needed to be constructive
  • Hyper-critical in incidental areas while missing the bigger picture

Such unfocused or insufficient reviewer comments can create snags in peer review and cause frustration for all parties involved. Many editorial teams struggle with wanting to ensure that they’re providing authors with robust feedback but feeling like reviewer comment quality is outside of their control. While you can’t guarantee that your journal will receive top-notch reviewer comments all of the time, there are some steps your editorial team can take to improve reviewer comment quality.

Use a peer review feedback form

One of the best steps editorial teams can take to improve the quality of reviewer comments their journal receives is to require all reviewers to complete a standardized feedback form. When reviewers are left to fashion comments from a set of instructions, no matter how thorough and well-formatted they may be, the likelihood of some reviewers misinterpreting or skimming over expectations is high. However, using a required, standard feedback form journals can ensure that all reviewers address the same key manuscript areas while deterring reviewers from giving tangential feedback. Reviewer feedback forms work best when they are automated using peer review software, so reviewers literally can’t submit comments without answering all of the necessary questions.

Find the right balance of feedback form questions and make them specific

The results of your journal’s reviewer feedback form will only be as good as its design. Once your journal has a feedback form set up, track the quality of responses submitted and make adjustments to the questions as needed to improve feedback outcomes.

The best feedback forms have a balanced number of questions that are easy to interpret. Aim to provide enough questions to adequately guide reviewers but not so many that you begin to overwhelm them. Remember, reviewer fatigue is real! Make questions specific so reviewers understand the goal of each question—this includes writing questions clearly and formatting questions to reflect the level of feedback needed. For example, journals can use open-ended questions for substantive feedback and Likert Scale questions for high-level assessments and recommendations.

Some common feedback form flaws to avoid are:

  • Requiring nonessential questions: As noted, it’s important to have a balanced number of feedback form questions. Avoid filling up your form with questions you don’t need.
  • Combining questions: Make sure that each question in your feedback form is only about one thing. When questions touch on multiple areas it’s more likely for reviewers to submit unclear or partial responses.
  • Not asking for a publication recommendation: While the decision to accept a manuscript, reject it, or ask for revisions is ultimately up to your editors, asking reviewers for a direct recommendation can help ensure you’re interpreting their comments correctly.

It’s a good idea to also include an open-ended response field for comments to the editor at the end of your feedback form. This will ensure that reviewers are able to comment on all aspects of the manuscript that they think are necessary, even if your form doesn’t address them all. Over time, this field can help you to keep improving your feedback form questions by revealing any important assessment areas you’ve missed.

Limit revise and resubmit rounds

In addition to taking steps to improve initial reviewer comments, journals should set clear parameters for revise and resubmit rounds to ensure subsequent comments remain helpful and on track. As explained by former managing editor of Aztlán Journal of Chicano Studies, Wendy Laura Belcher, reviewer feedback can become less focused over multiple rounds of revisions and review. Belcher said that a common problem that editors should look out for is reviewers picking apart new areas of a submission in each round of review. This can turn into a frustrating cycle for authors and reviewers who just want to fulfill their respective expectations. Journals can avoid these situations by setting clear parameters for which aspects of the manuscript reviewers should be commenting on as well as a limit to the number of rounds of revision a manuscript can go through.

Help reviewers improve

Finally, your journal can help reviewers grow and improve the reviewer comments you receive by giving reviewers insight into the quality of their feedback. Journals can either provide reviewers with direct feedback on their comments, noting what was most useful and whether any comments were unnecessary or confusing, or they can send reviewers copies of author decision letters to provide insight into how their comments were interpreted and relayed to the author. Additionally, journals working with more early-career reviewers may want to provide some training materials such as a guide to writing constructive reviewer comments.

Source: Scholastica