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Notes for reviewers

We are tremendously grateful to the reviewers who, like the editors, give their time and expertise for free to promote good science in our field.

To make your life easier, the following document outlines what we would expect, but a rule of thumb could be: what type of review would you find helpful on a paper of your own, whether the outcome is generally positive or not? We also appreciate any feedback you may have on the reviewing process or ways to improve our practices in the future.

As a reviewer, please be as specific as possible in your recommendations and provide detailed feedback for authors about possible concerns in their papers, along with suggestions for improvements. Quality is critically dependent on the ‘dialogue’ between authors and reviewers, mediated through the editorial process, to arrive at papers of recognised international excellence. In an area where topicality shades very easily into journalistic ‘reportage’, it is essential that the highest academic standards are upheld.

Some specific points:

  • Your identity will always remain confidential in relation to a given paper, known only to the editorial team: reviewers are thanked as a group in the editorial to the first issue each calendar year. CUP has an agreement with Publons where reviewers can obtain public recognition for their reviews, without jeopardising anonymity; you may use this or not as you wish.
  • To ensure a timely publication, we kindly ask you to complete the reviews within the time frame (usually 4 weeks). Should you need an extension, please email the associate editor for that paper. We aim to inform authors as quickly as possible of the outcome, and will let both reviewers know the result and see the other reviewer’s report.
  • It is expected that reviewers would agree to review a revision of the same paper to enhance coherence and expedite the reviewing process, though there is the option to decline in exceptional cases.
  • Even though the papers are anonymised, It is common to be able to guess the identity of an author in your field; this is not a problem in itself. However, it would be ethically inappropriate to review a paper by a member of your family, for example, or your PhD student, a member of your research team, or someone you have co-authored with recently or extensively. If in doubt, do please get in touch.
  • General experience is that, depending on the reviewer’s level of experience, it takes a good half-day to read a paper and write a first review, which would probably amount to the equivalent of 1 or more pages. Reviews of resubmissions may be shorter, but should still be sufficiently complete to help the editors come to an informed decision. For general guidelines, you may wish to refer to the Instructions for Contributors which mention (a) an appropriate topic of investigation that is (b) located with regard to other work in CALL, with (c) a coherent and appropriate method of investigation and (d) relevant data analysis, with (e) implications beyond the context of the investigation itself. Please see www.cambridge.org/core/journals/recall/information/instructions-contributors.
  • If possible, please submit your comments within the box provided rather than as a separate document; this is designed to increase efficiency and ensure anonymity. You may annotate the text itself if you have specific comments, but it is not expected that reviewers will correct individual language points.
  • The editors try to assign manuscripts according to your areas of interest and expertise. If you do not feel confident about some aspects of the review, for instance if the authors have used a methodology with which you are not entirely familiar, please do let the editors know via the ‘comments to editors (confidential)’ box; this information will not be shared with the other reviewers nor with the authors. This space can also be used to motivate your overall recommendation, and will be particularly informative to the editors if you hesitate between rejection or major revision, for example.
  • Please ensure that the review and any attachments give no indication of your identity as reviewer.
  • The main point of a review is to identify potentially problematic areas for the readership of the journal, to suggest concrete steps for improvement as far as possible, and formulate these suggestions as constructively as possible – whether the paper is to be revised for ReCALL or elsewhere. But the review should also include recognition of strong points and encouragement where appropriate, be polite at all times, and avoid any comments that might be taken personally (if in doubt, perhaps read through your review the next day before submitting it).

Many thanks again for your contribution to ReCALL.