Guidelines for Peer Reviewers

Guidelines for Peer Reviewers - Journal of NACAA

The purpose of the Journal of NACAA:
  • To provide NACAA members an opportunity to publish in a nationally recognized refereed journal.
  • To provide NACAA members an opportunity to share successful Cooperative Extension Service scholarly work such as original research, applied research, demonstrations, case studies, innovative ideas and related Extension activities.
  • To provide the NACAA membership with additional professional improvement opportunities that will enable them to become a more knowledgeable Cooperative Extension professional.
Role of Peer Reviewers:

Peer reviewers play a vital role in the success of the Journal of NACAA. In the publication process, peer reviewers lend their expertise, critiquing skills, and scholarly approach to the review process. Maintaining high quality in published articles is only one outcome of good peer reviewing. Good peer reviewing helps NACAA members to become better writers, better researchers, and better educators.

All articles submitted to the Journal receive an initial review by the editor. Articles that pass this review are then forwarded to three different peer reviewers based upon relevant subject matter expertise. Peer reviewers carefully evaluate articles for depth, rigor, validity, relevance, originality, and quality of writing. Peer reviewers are NACAA members, and are successful authors of peer reviewed journal articles, Extension bulletins, books or book chapters.

Types of Articles:

The Journal publishes scholarly works in the field of Extension, including discipline-based research as well as works describing important aspects of Extension practices and processes. Honoring the wide variety of scholarly activities undertaken by Extension agents and educators, the Journal welcomes submissions of original research, applied research, survey results, needs assessments, demonstrations, case studies, literature reviews, and innovative techniques and approaches to programming. Articles describing negative results (i.e. things that did not work) can be appropriate as these can also contribute to the knowledge base of Extension work.

Criteria for Evaluation:

Rigor and Validity: Articles must be based on valid and reliable information, documentation, or sound concepts. Content should be clearly supported empirically (i.e. data collection and analysis), logically and or/theoretically (e.g. linked to published literature or curricula). Methods must be repeatable, generally accepted, and described in adequate detail. Quantitative and/or qualitative data must be presented to support results and conclusions. Data analysis should be performed using statistical approaches appropriate to the data and to the design of the study. For example, data collected from studies where pseudo-replication, non-randomized experimental units, and/or side-by-side comparisons have been used should not be analyzed as if they were collected from a randomized, replicated trial. In general, stronger conclusions and recommendations can be made from applied field research conducted over two or more years, compared to field research from a single year.

Is it Applied Research or is it a Demonstration?
The Journal of NACAA accepts articles that are based on applied research as well as articles based on demonstrations. Applied research articles typically describe field-based studies that are designed to meet standards of replication (over experimental units and/or time) and randomization of treatments. Research projects test hypotheses; conclusions are based on the data generated by the research.

In contrast, demonstrations are based on established science from earlier research; they do not test hypotheses or generate new knowledge about the practice being demonstrated. The objective of a demonstration is to provide a way for people to learn through the demonstration. Therefore, articles based on demonstrations should include some measure or evaluation of learning and/or behavior change, preferably through a post-event follow-up.

Depth: Articles should reflect sufficient depth to warrant publication in the Journal. Depth may be demonstrated through elements such as the number of participants, depth of learning, extent of behavior change, value of research implications, timeliness or utility of new approaches.

Relevance: Is the article suitable for the Journal of NACAA? Articles must be relevant to the field of extension, and relevant to at least a reasonable number of NACAA members.

Originality: Articles must be the sole, original work of the author(s) listed, and not previously published.

Writing Quality: A well-written article is focused, highly readable, and flows well. The title reflects the content of the article, and the abstract summarizes objectives, methods and results. There is a tight connection between stated objectives, results and conclusions. Grammar and spelling errors are few; authors have had someone proofread their article for errors and comprehension before submission. Any data or content presented in tables or figures should be referred to in the body of the article. An adequate number of citations are used in the article to support statements and concepts, and to connect the article to the relevant body of literature. There is a one-to-one correspondence between literature citations in the body of the article and those listed in the Literature Cited section.

What is expected of you as a reviewer:
  • Carefully evaluate articles for depth, rigor, validity, relevance, originality, and quality of writing.
  • Do as much proof-reading as is necessary, but no more. If it is obvious that the article has not been proofread by someone other than the author, and there are many grammar and/or spelling errors, note that in your comments.
  • Check figures and tables carefully for content, appropriate labels, and readability. Are data expressed using appropriate significant figures (i.e. is there more precision reported in the data than was used in measurements)?
  • Check to see if there is a one-to-one match-up between citations in the paper and those listed in the Literature Cited section.
  • Provide constructive comments. There is a box for adding comments on the online review form. You can also make comments on a copy of the manuscript. To do this, copy the article, then paste it into a Word file. Once in Word, you can add your comments in a different color, or use the Track Changes option in Word. You can upload your completed file as an attachment on the review form. Important note for retaining anonymity: Before you upload the document with your comments, make sure you "scrub" your identity from the document so that you retain anonymity. This link explains how.
What is not expected of you as a reviewer:
  • You are not the primary proof-reader for the author.
  • You do not need to be overly concerned with online formatting or style issues, whether in headings, text, tables, figures, or citations. It is easier for the editor to address these.
  • You do not need to check to see if the article was published previously elsewhere; that is part of the editor’s review.
  • Feel free to comment if the article seems too long, but you do not need to check to see if the article fits the 4,000 word length limit.
  • You do not need to be concerned about whether or not an author has met IRB standards.