Guidelines: Peer Reviewers

Overview

Early Theatre submission, peer review, and editorial processes work to support and improve the new work that authors send to the journal. Double anonymous peer review is central to Early Theatre’s commitment to fostering new research while ensuring the quality of the scholarship we publish.

We are committed to a constructive, rigorous peer review process. We ask external readers to uphold these principles by following the guidelines outlined below.   

Review Process and Timelines

For the sake of rigour and consistency, and in order to mitigate unconscious bias, the journal uses a standardized, independent, fully anonymous peer-review process. Author names and identifying information will be absent from reviewed manuscripts; reader reports will also be anonymized by default. The editors will take named responsibility for final reports to authors. However, we encourage peer reviewers to consider identifying themselves after the peer review process has been completed, if and when they believe it is appropriate and safe to do so. If you would like the journal to inform the author(s) of your identity in a decision letter, please indicate this choice as part of your peer review report in the notes to the editor section (see Key Points for Preparing Your Review Report below). Out of respect for the intellectual property of authors submitting to the journal, scholars contacted about peer reviewing must delete copies of all unpublished submissions.

We ask readers to return their report within four weeks of receiving the request to review, but we also work to negotiate deadlines around individual circumstances. Early Theatre is committed to timely communication with authors, in recognition of the impact on careers that delayed responses can have. If at any point you find yourself unable to complete the review by the agreed-upon deadline, please contact the editors as soon as possible so that a new reader can be appointed promptly.

Key Points for Preparing Your Review Report:

We ask peer reviewers to observe the following key points when preparing their reports:

  1. Please use your own judgment about the appropriate length of your appraisal. Typically, manuscript assessments for Early Theatre are 300 to 500 words long.
  2. We suggest that you type up your report in a wordprocessing file, save the file to your computer, and then copy and paste your comments into our website's online review form.
    1. The first window will be for comments to the editors and the author.
    2. The second window will be for comments addressed to the editors only. Please use this section to offer advice to the editors and to provide guidance about whether you wish the journal to release or keep confidential your identity once the review process is completed. 
  3. In your report, please assess the article's originality, thesis, argumentation, engagement with relevant scholarship, and overall readability, keeping in mind our goal of providing supportive, rigorous feedback.
  4. Reports should offer constructive criticism. If your report identifies problems with a submission, we encourage you to suggest potential solutions.
  5. Be specific in your comments. For example, if you think an essay needs to engage directly with recent scholarship on a particular topic, please suggest examples of published work the author should consult. 
  6. We welcome constructive suggestions regarding clarity of expression (for example, specific feedback about phrasing that aids or hinders the submission’s argumentation), but please do not feel the need to copy-edit, and do not impose stylistic preferences. Once submissions to Early Theatre are accepted, the editorial team will work with authors on style and formatting during our copyediting and proofing stages.
  7. The editors will not forward reader reports that are dismissive, aggressive, prejudicial, or otherwise inappropriate towards the author(s) or their research, and the journal will not approach such readers again.

You will be asked to register one of the following recommendations using the dropdown menu:

  1. Accept Submission: No revisions or minor revisions only (as indicated in the reader report) required;
  2. Revisions Required: The submission requires revisions that can likely be reviewed and accepted by the editors without needing to be vetted through another round of peer review;
  3. Resubmit for Review: The submission shows promise but requires extensive revisions or significant rethinking; it will need to be reassessed through another round of peer review;
  4. Decline Submission: The submission has too many significant weaknesses and should be rejected without an option to resubmit;
  5. See Comments: If none of the above recommendations make sense for a particular submission, you can leave a comment for the editors detailing your concerns and suggesting a recommended course of action.

You may be invited to review a resubmitted version of the same article if recommending Resubmit for Review.

Please destroy your copy of the manuscript after you review it or, if you have annotated it for the author’s benefit, please return it to us and we will forward it to the author(s). This manuscript is a privileged document and should be treated as such.

If you have any questions while preparing your report, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the editors at earlytheatre@mcmaster.ca.

Communication of Decision

Following receipt of recommendations from external peer reviewers, the editors will come to a collective decision about appropriate next steps, and then communicate the journal’s decision to the author(s). Note that the editors will use the external reports as guidance and may incorporate them partially or in full when writing the decision letter sent to the author.

To help develop best practices in peer review, the editors will report the decision back to reviewers while protecting the author’s/authors' identity.