Peer and community review

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ASO aims to improve the quality of published material on the Alexander Technique by offering pre-publication peer and community review of submitted material. (In addition, we have developed mechanisms for post-publication commentary, discussed separately on the relevant webpage, here.)

Any original articles or essays published on the ASO site will go through one or another of the review processes, excepting only blog entries, editorials and internal ASO documents. But, as explained below, the process of community review is available for materials that are subsequently published by channels other than ASO.

Terminology

Material that is subject to any kind of review process is a target article.

Screening

All material submitted to ASO is screened by the Editorial team to ensure

  • it is of sufficient interest to warrant publication (though not necessarily by ASO)
  • it is of sufficient quality to merit being submitted to review

ASO aims to encourage rather than discourage authors: thus the Editorial team can be expected to take a generous approach to submitted material, relying on review processes to bring material to an appopriate standard for publication or lead authors into an understanding of why their material is not suitable for publication. 

Pre-publication review

Purpose

Pre-publication review (whether via tradtional peer review or via our web-enabled community review) is intended to ensure that material submitted to ASO reaches certain quality standards. It is not intended as the venue for a debate about the substance of the material (though of course the two cannot always easily be disentangled). In other words, you might be involved in a pre-publication review where you accepted that the quality achieved  reached the standards required for publication whilst fundamentally disagreeing with the ideas put forwards. The place to express the disagreement about the substance would be post-publication, via the community or open commentary process.

Guidelines for reviewers

Our guidelines to help reviewers with the practical task of review are available in an ASO article downloadable from here.

The peer review option

We currently envisage peer review via ASO to follow traditional lines, in other words:

  • it is "double-blind" (i.e. the reviewer does not know the name of the author of the material being reviewed and the author does not know the name of the reviewer)
  • the process happens off-line
  • the option is only available for material that ASO has permission to publish on its website (but without demanding exclusivity)
  • the process is managed  by the Editor who assigns the reviewers and monitors progress
  • the target article is confidential and may not be discussed by peer reviewers otherr than with the Editor
  • the Editor collates the comments and feeds them back to the author, along with an overall response i.e. accept, accept with minor revision, accept with major revision, reject

The Editor will normally select peer reviewers from amongst ASO's Editorial Advisory Board members: these are the most experienced Contributors.

Alternatives to double-blind peer review are increasingly common: single-blind or non-anonymous reviews for example. We will monitor these developments and our own experience. But we will always be clear - and expect those involved to be clear - about the processes being used for any particular contribution. Particularly with peer review, as opposed to comunity commentary, confidentiality is paramount. Reviewers should operate independently of one another and all communications are via the Editor.

The community review option

In the community review process

  • a secure area of the website, accessible to all Contributors - but only to them - is used for feedback via commentary from reviewers
  • authors are able to respond to feedback
  • the names of authors and reviewers are visible to one another

Importantly, the community review process is available for materials that are destined for eventual publication anywhere, not just for those intended for publication by ASO: it is thus a resource for any Alexander Technique print journal. Editors of such journals are invited to encourage prospective authors to make use of the process.

Authors may also submit materials for peer commentary speculatively, ie hoping that the material may be published but without yet having a publisher in tow. Such material can be offered by authors and then "bid for" by journal editors. Any material not taken up by a print journal might be published online by ASO (always assuming it reaches the desired quality).  But the author is not subject to any compulsion or expectation on the part of ASO that ASO should publish it.

Confidentiality of Community Review

Please note:

  • it is at the discretion of the author, subject also to the agreement of the Editor, whether or not a target article is confidential ie whether it is only to Contributors or it is visible to any visitor to the website;
  • all community review feedback(i.e. other than the target article) is always confidential and will only be accessible to Contributors; this applies also to responses by the original author;
  • any material, target article or otherwise, that is designated as Confidential should be not be disclosed to anyone other than another Contributor.

Considerations around the confidentiality of a target article include the following:

  1. if a target article is non-confidential, this means it can be viewed without logging into the website: i.e. it is publicly visible;
  2. given (1), it would not be appropriate for an article that is intended for publication outside of ASO, e.g. in an Alexander print journal, to be published non-confidentially, as it would in effect already have been published by ASO;
  3. target articles that are non-confidential, being more visible, are more likely to attract community review contributions.

Dual review process

Authors may switch their material from one review process to the other.

For example, an author lacking confidence about their material might select the peer review process in order to benefit from the additional degree of confidentiality; but in the light of positive feedback they might be encouraged to put the material up for community review in order to garner feedback from a wider range of people. Alternatively, an article that received a mass of contradictory feedback as part of the coomunity review process might be put forward for peer review to prepare it for publication.

On occasion, the Editor may require material to be published on ASO to go through peer review even where it has gone through community review, or vice versa.

Acknowledgement of ASO

Authors whose material has been subject to pre-publication review are asked to acknowledge the role of ASO if the material is published outside of ASO. 

Authors whose work has gone through the community review process may, entirely at their discretion, choose to acknowledge specific individuals whose feedback they consider have helped them (with permission of the individual concerned). But as a minimum ASO requests acknowledgement in the form "Thanks to reviewers at Alexander Studies Online for feedback on an earlier draft " unless the requirement is explicitly relaxed by ASO. The only exception would be where material put up for community review had received no feedback. If comments are received and rejected by the author, an acknowledgement would still be expected.

ASO rights over material

All contributions submitted as part of the web-enabled community review process are accepted on the basis that ASO has an indefinite licence to continue publishing those contributions in the same manner (ie securely on the web, with access restricted to our accredited Contributors).  Looking at this the other way around, authors and contributors do not have the right to ask ASO to remove such materials once submitted - they constitute the "scholarly record".

Where material has passed through an ASO traditional peer review process, ASO expects authors

  • to grant ASO the licence to publish a final version online, with an agreed embargo period during which the material should not be published elsewhere
  • to grant ASO authority to issue a DOI for the material (which ASO may or may not do - see discussion here)
  • respect the version published by ASO as the version of scholarly record if ASO chooses to publish it

Authors should make these requirements clear to external publishers.

Fuller details can be found on the page dealing with copyright [forthoming].

Profile of pre-publication review options

The profile of the different approaches is outlined in the table below:

 PEER REVIEWCOMMUNITY REVIEW
Submission via Editor or direct by author?Via EditorVia Editor for now
Screening by Editor?YesYes
Editor determines timescale for reviewsYesYes
Editor assigns reviewer(s)?YesNo
Guidelines for reviewers?YesYes
Target article confidential?Yes

At discretion of author, subject to Editor's agreement and not if target article to be published elsewhere

Reviewer feedback confidential?YesYes
Available for rough drafts?NoYes
"Double blind"?YesNo
Any Contributor can provide feedback?NoYes
Feedback moderated?Not applicableYes
Author can interact with reviewers via website?NoYes - via confidential exchanges[1]
Formal recommendation on outcome?YesOnly if material was submitted for publication by ASO; provided privately by Editor.
Editor collates comments and feeds back to author?YesNot applicable
Reviewer feedback available online?No - never publishedYes - in secure area
ASO must be granted right to publish material?Yes - if published anywhere at allOnly inside secure area
Author retains ultimate control of whether material is published?YesYes
Author retains copyright?YesYes
Material by ASO retained long-term?YesYes
If published at all, ASO version is the version of scholarly record?YesOnly if published by ASO or otherwise  by agreement of the author
Print publishers can "bid" to publish materialNo (material not visible to them)Yes, assuming they have access to the secure area of the website.

 Notes

1. Confidential exchanges are only visible to people accredited as Contributors and who are logged into the website