New Directions For Evaluation: Review Guidelines

New Directions reviews have two parts:

  • A narrative review, and
  • A separate letter or e-mail with your recommendation on acceptance, revisions, or rejection.

Note: I will return the narrative review to the proposal author, so please do not make recommendations about acceptance or rejection in the review itself. Instead convey such recommendations in a separate cover letter or e-mail to me.

In the narrative review, please answer the following questions, commenting on both the overall proposal and on particular contributions to the proposed volume, as appropriate:

  1. Overall merits: What are your overall impressions of the merits of the proposal? Is it strong, weak, or somewhere in-between?
  2. Strengths and weaknesses: What are the strengths of the proposal? Does the proposal reflect any unusual strength (e.g., unusually strong methods or an exceptionally strong group of contributors)? What are its weaknesses? Does the proposal contain any fatal flaws? Are they remediable?
  3. Omissions or additions: Should any of the proposed contributions to the volume be dropped (or combined into one smaller contribution)? Which ones, and why? Would the proposal benefit from the addition of other contributors? Who and on what topic?
  4. Coverage: Is the coverage of topics complete and balanced? What topics should be added, if any? Has the guest editor omitted important topics or people in the field?
  5. Timeliness: Does the volume reflect particularly timely issues, novel developments, or noteworthy extensions of previous work? Is it really a “new direction” in some important sense, and will that be evident to readers?
  6. Breadth and interest: Is the proposal likely to be of broad interest to evaluators? If not, how could it be changed to be of broader interest?
  7. Author qualifications: Do the authors seem to have sufficient background, experience, and training to undertake this proposal?
  8. Other comments: Please list here any specific comments not covered above.

The length of your review will depend somewhat on the length of the proposal, as longer proposals have more details and so allow you more room for comment. But please focus most on the key strengths, weaknesses, and omissions of this proposal in a minimum one- to two-page, single-spaced review. The guest editor will appreciate whatever constructive comments you can provide.

In writing this review, please keep the following points in mind:

  • Reviewing proposals for NDE is, in some respects, more difficult than reviewing most manuscripts that are submitted for publication. In the latter case, you have the finished product in front of you to critique. For NDE, you have only the “promise” of a finished product, a proposal for manuscripts to be written. While we have tried to encourage guest editors to submit detailed proposals, obviously they cannot submit as much detail as a finished manuscript would contain. Hence your task is as much to judge the promise of the proposal as it is to judge it on its merits as written. However, we want you to be as critical as you can be of these proposals—a poorly written proposal is likely to result in a poorly written issue.
  • The review has two goals: 1) to determine if we should encourage the guest editor(s) to proceed in developing the issue, and 2) to suggest ways in which the proposal can be improved. You should discuss both matters in your review. However, please refrain from making recommendations about acceptance or rejection of the proposal in your comments to the guest editor. Reviewers often do not agree with each other, and the editor-in-chief must take into account other matters in making the final decision. To repeat, you should convey your opinion about acceptance or rejection in separate comments to the editor, not in your comments to the guest editors.
  • You should focus your review mostly on the important strengths and flaws of the proposal. If you feel the proposal is fatally flawed for some reason, then say why. If you feel the proposal is a clear winner, tell us that also. If the proposal is somewhere between these two endpoints, tell us how the proposal could be improved. Be specific in these suggestions. In particular, please tell us about additional topics and authors that the proposal does not include but should.
  • Finally, please write your review in as friendly a tone as possible. Offer specific observations and suggestions for changes, doing so as respectfully as you would want to be treated yourself. Part of the editorial process is instructional, so it may be helpful to frame your comments in that light.

Thank you for your willingness to participate in the editorial review process. Your commitment is what keeps New Directions of high quality.