Reviewer F.A.Q.

  1. What is peer review?
  2. What is the purpose of the reviewing process?
  3. How do I become a reviewer?
  4. What skills and experience do I need to become a reviewer?
  5. How many people review each article?
  6. How are articles assigned?
  7. How will I know when an article has been allocated to me?
  8. How do I access the articles that have been assigned to me?
  9. What should I do if I know nothing about the topic?
  10. How long will I have to complete the review?
  11. What should I do if I cannot complete a review by the due date?
  12. What does the reviewer report look like?
  13. How do I complete the reviewer report?
  14. What are the review criteria?
  15. What option should I select when I am asked whether to recommend the article for publication?
  16. How much feedback should I provide?
  17. What kind of feedback should I provide?
  18. How much time should I spend reviewing each submission?
  19. How much consideration should I give to the study level of the contributor?
  20. Where can I find the referencing guidelines for History in the Making?
  21. Are reviewer reports anonymous?
  22. Can I ask a friend or colleague to help me with my reviewer report?
  23. Who should I contact if I have a technical problem using the online journal management system?

The purpose of peer review

1. What is peer review?
Peer review (or refereeing) is a critical part of the academic publishing process. The purpose of peer review is to determine whether articles are suitable for publication in a scholarly journal. The process ensures that articles are of a high standard and are of interest to the wider academic community.

2. What is the purpose of the reviewing process?
Reviewers are involved in the first stage of reviewing for History in the Making. The content of your reports determines whether submissions are passed on for further consideration by the editors. The scores and comments provided help the editors to identify strengths and weaknesses within each submission. The purpose of the reviewing process is to manage a high volume of submissions efficiently and ensure all students who submit to the journal receive some feedback on their work.

Becoming a reviewer

3. How do I become a reviewer?
If you are an honours or postgraduate student, you can become a reviewer by completing the reviewer application form, available here, and emailing it to reviewers@historyitm.org
If you have been published in History in the Making, you will automatically be invited to become a reviewer.

4. What skills and experience do I need to become a reviewer?
The Journal Collective accepts reviewer applications from a wide range of history students. We are not looking for knowledge in a specific area or time period and will also consider applications from students in related disciplines (e.g. classics).
First and foremost we are looking for people with a desire to help other students improve their historical writing. In addition, we are looking for students and graduates with:

  • experience in peer review of any kind
  • editing and proofreading skills
  • an interest in academic publishing and the journal production process.

Reviewers also need to commit to meeting any deadlines set by the Journal Collective and to responding in a timely fashion to any queries from the Journal Collective.

The reviewing process

5. How many people review each article?
Every article that is submitted to History in the Making is reviewed by three people, at least one of which is an editor or member of the Journal Collective.

6. How are articles assigned?
Articles are assigned to you based on your areas of expertise and level of study. Reviewers will only be asked to review submissions by students of their year level and below (for example, honours students will only be asked to review articles by other honours and undergraduate students).
Depending on the number of submissions received, it is not always possible to match articles to the exact areas of interest of reviewers. If the article you receive is on an unfamiliar topic, we encourage you to read it first before you make a final decision about whether you are willing to accept it for review, rather than rejecting it outright (see question 9).

7. How will I know when an article has been allocated to me?
A member of the Journal Collective will email you to let you know when an article has been allocated to you. You will then need to accept or reject the request. For more information, read the policy document: ‘Instructions for Completing Reviewer Reports’, included in our guide for reviewers.

8. How do I access the articles that have been assigned to me?
To access your assigned submissions, login to your account in the online journal management system and select the ‘Reviewer’ option. When you click on the link to your active submissions, a list of articles will appear. Select the title of the article you want to access. This will take you to the submission review page, which shows you the basic information on the article, the review schedule and the review steps.

9. What should I do if I know nothing about the topic?
We do not expect reviewers to be experts on the articles they are reviewing. If you receive an article that is outside your area of knowledge, we encourage you to read it first before you make a final decision about whether you are willing to accept it for review. Even if you are unfamiliar with the topic, you should still be able to identify whether the submission contains the key features of a good journal article – which is really what we are looking for in this stage of the review process.
If you do decide that you are uncomfortable accepting the article for review, please make sure you let the Journal Collective know as soon as possible. Follow the procedure in the policy document, ‘Instructions for Completing Reviewer Reports’. As stated in the guide, please make sure that you give us a reason for declining the article. Once you have rejected an article for review, we will try to assign you a different submission.

10. How long will I have to complete the review?
The standard reviewing period for History in the Making is four weeks.

11. What should I do if I cannot complete a review by the due date?
If you are unable to complete a review by the due date, please make sure you contact the member of the Journal Collective who assigned the article to you or email reviewers@historyitm.org as soon as possible. We will either arrange for an extension or re-assign the article to a different reviewer.
If you do not submit your report on time and have not contacted the Journal Collective in advance to provide a reason, you may not be invited to participate in subsequent issues.

Completing the reviewer report

12. What does the reviewer report look like?
Reviewers for History in the Making are required to fill out an online report for each article they read. The reviewer report contains a standard set of criteria against which submissions should be assessed and provides a space for reviewers to make comments.

13. How do I complete the reviewer report?
Reviewer reports need to be completed and submitted online. For a step-by-step outline of the process, read the policy document, ‘Instructions for Completing Reviewer Reports’.

14. What are the review criteria?
Reviewers are asked to judge submissions against seven main criteria:

  • Argument: Does the article have a coherent, persuasive and strong argument?
  • Topic and Interest: Is the topic well-chosen and would it appeal to many readers?
  • Writing Style and Expression: Is the submission well-written? Are all ideas expressed clearly?
  • Originality: Does the submission draw on original research, use existing research in an original way or apply a new interpretive paradigm to an existing topic?
  • Engagement with Academic Debate: Does the submission engage in academic debate in a critical manner? Does the author demonstrate how their work contributes to or advances this debate?
  • Use of Primary Sources: Does the submission use historical evidence to support the argument? Is the selection of primary sources clearly justified?
  • Referencing and Presentation: Does the article need substantial grammatical revision? Has the contributor used appropriate referencing?

15. What option should I select when I am asked whether to recommend the article for publication?
At the end of the reviewer report, you are asked to select from a number of options regarding the suitability of the submission for publication. To ensure that reviewers respond in a consistent way, please apply the categories in the following manner:

  • Accept Submission: Choose this option if you think the submission is of an excellent standard overall and you believe it should be considered for publication. The submission may still need some revision but will not require substantial editing, structural change or additional research. Articles in this category will be considered by the Journal Collective for publication in the forthcoming edition of the journal. They will be allocated to an editor, who will work with the author to bring the article to publication standard. As a rough estimate, approximately 10-20% of articles submitted will fall into this category.
  • Revisions Required or Resubmit for Review: Choose one of these options if you think the submission is of a high standard but you do not believe it is ready for publication. Submissions in this category often feature evidence of originality and substantial research but the argument, structure or expression may require further work. Articles in this category will be returned to authors with an invitation to resubmit their article for a future edition of the journal. As a rough estimate, approximately 10% of articles submitted will fall into this category.
  • Resubmit Elsewhere: Choose this option if you think the submission is of a high to excellent standard but you do not think it is suitable for History in the Making and should instead be submitted to a different journal. For example, the submission may be on a topic of little interest to generalist readers and better suited to a specialist academic journal.
  • Decline Submission: Choose this option if you think the submission is of a poor to average standard and you do not think it should be considered for publication. Submissions in this category will be returned to authors and they will not be invited to resubmit the article to a future edition of the journal.

Please do not select the ‘See Comments’ category on the drop-down menu, as we are utilising these recommendations as a guide to the standard of the submission and will review all your comments as well.

16. How much feedback should I provide?
The review form consists of both multiple choice sections and comment boxes where you can add your own feedback. When filling out the reviewer form, we ask that you take the time to write at least two to three sentences of feedback on each of the assessment criteria. Overall, you should be aiming to provide authors with a minimum of half a page of personalised feedback. You are welcome to provide more extended feedback but bear in mind the submissions that pass this review round will be passed on to editors, who are expected to provide more detailed feedback to the authors.

17. What kind of feedback should I provide?
The reviewing process is intended to be educative. Feedback should focus on improvements that the contributor might make in future essays or articles, rather than simply describing the problems with the submission. Remember: all reviewer reports are returned to contributors, regardless of the submission’s success in passing through to the next round. Please make sure you maintain a level of professionalism and courtesy to the contributor in your comments.

18. How much time should I spend reviewing each submission?
The amount of time it takes to review an article will depend on a number of factors, including your knowledge of the subject area, your experience in reviewing/editing/marking essays and the word length of the submission. As a general estimate, we suggest that you aim to spend around one hour on articles of 2000-3000 words and up to two hours on longer articles.

19. How much consideration should I give to the study level of the contributor?
One of the objectives of History in the Making is to publish material from across the spectrum of undergraduate and postgraduate study. As such, the standard of submissions you receive may vary greatly depending on whether the contributor is a first year undergraduate answering a set essay question, an honours student submitting an original seminar paper or a PhD student submitting a component of their thesis. To help you assess submissions fairly, we will provide details of the contributor’s level of study, where available. As you complete the reviewer report, please keep this information in mind and apply the criteria as is appropriate to someone at this level of study. If you are finding it difficult to judge the standard of work expected, you may want to look at some articles already published in History in the Making. You can view past articles online here, and the current edition here.

20. Where can I find the referencing guidelines for History in the Making?
History in the Making uses the Chicago system of citations. As part of your job as a reviewer, we ask that you check that submissions use the correct referencing system. If you are in doubt, a summary of the referencing guidelines and other stylistic requirements for articles is available here.

21. Are reviewer reports anonymous?
All reviewer reports are filled out on an anonymous basis: the reviewer is not told the name of the author; likewise, the author is not told the name of the three reviewers. This is to ensure that each submission is judged on its individual merits. However, reviewers are told whether the work is by an undergraduate, honours or postgraduate student, to enable them to judge the submission by the standards consistent with the contributor’s level of study.

22. Can I ask a friend or colleague to help me with my reviewer report?
Articles are allocated to reviewers on a confidential basis. This means that you should not ask friends or colleagues for help with the reviewer report or discuss the content of submissions with them. If you need assistance in assessing a submission, please contact the member of the Journal Collective who assigned the article to you or email reviewers@historyitm.org with your query.

23. Who should I contact if I have a technical problem using the online journal management system?
If you experience a technical problem while filling out the reviewer report, you should first consult the policy document, ‘Instructions for Completing Reviewer Reports’. If you still need help, please contact support@historyitm.org – make sure you include your username and the name of the article you have been assigned, as well as a description of the problem you have encountered.