Advice for Reviewers

The following advice was developed through a series of meetings with editors and editorial board members associated with Clearinghouse publications. Led by Chris Basgier and Rebecca Hallman Martini, those meetings resulted in the advice and sample reviews found on this page.

Notes About Reviewing

Our goal as editors of the various WAC Clearinghouse journals, book series, edited collections, and the WAC Repository is to offer constructive advice to the authors or editors who submit work to our publication platforms. We value the collegial advice that you as reviewers can provide to improve the quality of a manuscript or proposal, and we appreciate your efforts to help our writers improve their projects. We ask that reviewers take on the following dispositions as they review:

As a publishing cooperative, we subscribe to and endorse the statement and guidelines on Anti-Racist Scholarly Reviewing Practices that can be found at For reviewers, the most salient elements of the heuristic are:

We also recognize that these anti-oppressive practices apply to scholarship by, and about, individuals and groups with a range of historically marginalized identities in addition to race, including gender, sexuality, dis/ability, socioeconomic class, ethnicity, nationality, and religion.

For information about the values that inform our guidance, please see our statement on Mission, Values, and Vision and our statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice.

Review Guidelines

We suggest the following approach to structuring a review:

  1. Summarize the submission in a couple sentences without evaluating its quality. This builds goodwill by demonstrating your understanding to the author and/or editors.
  2. Evaluate the submission based on the venue’s mission or goals, as well as your expertise in the field.
  3. Suggest areas for improvement based on that evaluation, referencing specific pages or parts of the manuscript.

Please keep in mind that these are general guidelines. The editors of some journals and book series, for example, will request that you address specific questions about a submission. You may also find it useful to read observations on peer review by our editors, reviewers, and authors.

Sample Reviews

The following models are offered as resources as you conduct a peer review.

Review 1

Dear Author,

Thank you for the opportunity to read your manuscript, “Title.” Your study contributes to the literature on [population] preparation for scholarly writing by utilizing qualitative interviews to supplement rhetorical moves analysis that has been commonplace in sociolinguistic genre research. Because of this contribution, I do believe it is a good fit for [Journal], but I also believe it needs substantial revision before it can be accepted for publication.

I want to begin by summarizing what I think is valuable about your manuscript. First, you have identified a clear gap in the literature, which is a lack of attention to the challenges posed by [genre] for [population], especially in an EFL context. I was especially interested to learn about the [specific international context] discussed here, something I know little about. I also appreciate your use of research participants’ voices, which provides both empirical grounding and texture to your study. Perhaps most importantly, your findings provided evidence for something I have noticed in my own work running a writing across the curriculum program in the United States: many [population] tend to focus on surface level matters of writing, such as grammar, at the expense of rhetorical and epistemic problems, such as difficulty selecting and presenting key results. I could even imagine sharing some of your tables with [population] during needs assessment meetings we conduct for one of our services.

Despite these strengths, I also see several opportunities for revision. Most crucially, your manuscript needs methodological clarity. I understand that you used grounded theory to arrive at your codes, but I would like more discussion of how you decided that your codes were distinct, and that you had arrived at saturation. I was especially confronted with this problem in your tables. Here, I am not sure I see these [codes] as neatly distinct from one another. For example, what are the differences among “[code 1],” “[code 2],” and “code 3?” I would benefit as a reader from clear definitions of each code, and some explanation of what you see as the differences among them. I think this kind of definitional clarity will be essential for readers wishing to understand your analysis and the relevance of your findings. Additionally, I see no mention of whether this study received approval from an institutional ethics board. Please make sure to make mention of this either in text or in a footnote.

I also see a need for revision in your presentation of results. For example, in table X, you include four [codes], but in table Y, you present three. Were there only three [codes] named in your student data, or do you have a different reason for sharing fewer? Why is there only one code overlapping? I would appreciate some metacommentary explaining how you have decided to present data based on findings.

On the theoretical level, I think you have an opportunity to not only fill a gap, but also to “speak back” to the scholarship that has been done in this area already. Specifically, the qualitative approach you have taken here has the potential to add a sociorhetorical approach to genre to the sociolinguistic approach already taken. You might consider referencing North American genre theory, where the “moves” identified by scholars in Swales’ tradition represent, enact, and inform perceptions of purpose in genre. You helped me see how even different sections of a single instance of a genre might entail different sociorhetorical purposes.

On the pragmatic level, I appreciate your recommendations in the conclusion, but I also see a need to move beyond [challenge named in the conclusion] to more coordinated, programmatic approaches to [genre], such as [intervention]. [Intervention] can augment [current curricular model, which is rife with problems].

Finally, a stylistic note: there is a fair amount of repetition across sections of your manuscript. For example, most of the information in [section] had already been stated in earlier sections. Probably, you could add the research questions to one of those sections and cut the [aforementioned section], and then move the context section into the Methods section. Be on the lookout for this kind of repetition across the manuscript as a whole.

Again, I think you have the foundation for a valuable contribution to the scholarship here, and with some revision, I believe readers of [Journal] will read it with great interest.

Review 2

Dear Authors,

I very much enjoyed reading your paper, entitled “[title of article].” Exploring what happens along the journey of entering college student through graduate/employee in STEM is critical and this article does a nice job of [summary of positive elements of the project].

While I think the data and argument offered are worthwhile, I also feel this manuscript needs more revision before it is a place where it fully realizes it’s contributions to the field. Below are some thoughts about/responses to the text that I had while reading:

Again, I appreciate this work and what it has to offer. My notes are simply meant to help you clarify your argument, congruent with the data presented. At present, my recommendation is a significant revision and resubmission. I would be delighted to read a revision, as I do believe your study is an important one.

Review 3

I found this to be a fascinating piece with important potential contributions to the field. The idea of a climate for writing is a new idea and adds another approach to thinking about writing environments, alongside the typical “culture of writing” concept that is far more common, at least in my understanding. The parts of the manuscript that explain climate for writing, drawing from research  on organizational climate, are useful and strong. However, I had a little more trouble making the connection between this scholarship and scholarship in writing/writing center studies. For example, there is a growing body of research on writing centers outside the U.S. (see recent special issues of The Writing Center Journal in the past 5 years or so, and the work of Andrea Scott who has published specifically on writing centers in Germany) as well as research on international writing across the curriculum programs and initiatives (check out the WAC Clearinghouse open access book series, one of which is called International Exchanges). While reading, I was wondering: how does organizational climate fit with (or add to) what’s already been written about writing in these contexts? Reference some of these studies to help strengthen the connection across fields.

Another way to make this connection a little more clear, I imagine, would simply involve slowing down. For example, one place that would benefit from slowing down a bit on page 3 where the author(s) say: “Yet, research to date has not determined the construct of university writing climate. In addition, there are no empirical data detailing university L1 and L2 writing climates at [country] universities.” Also, on page 3, a similar claim needs to be supported by referencing scholarship in the field: “Other cultural factors, such as, for example, national pedagogies or academic discourses, are not viewed as contributing to the creation of context-specific climates for writing.” These are strong claims to make and I am not questioning their validity, but I want to see more explicitly where the gaps in research are. I think this will strengthen the exigency for your argument and research as well. Another place to reference more scholarship in the field is when you mention storytelling and its value, on page 5. For starters, see Grutch McKinney’s (2013) Peripheral Visions and Condon and Faison’s (2021) Counterstories edited collection. 

Since the concept of organizational climate is likely new for your readers, I also think taking more time to provide definitions would be helpful. For example, on page 6, you mention several components: events, policies, practices, and procedures. Could you provide some definitions there, or add them to your figure? I know you explicate them below in the next section, but having an earlier definition would help.

Finally, I found Table 1: [Country] University L:2 Writing Climate to be incredibly fascinating. But, I also found myself wondering: where did this data come from? How did you come to this? Is it rooted in research? Or, is this part of the thought experiment approach? If it’s the latter, I think you should say more about how you determined the observable and desirable questions.