The ALAN Review Guidelines for Reviewers and Sample Review
Thank you for agreeing to serve as a reviewer for The ALAN Review! We appreciate your expertise and support of our authors. We employ a double-blind referee system: identities of the author(s) and the reviewers are not revealed to one another. However, we include reviewers’ comments (or excerpts) in our responses to submitting author(s).
We ask that you attach and send your completed review form to firstname.lastname@example.org; please do not submit any other notes, comments, or edits, including those you might have made for yourself on the manuscript. The review form asks you to include your evaluation of the assigned manuscript in the form of a response to the author(s), as well as your recommendation regarding publication.
As you craft your response and make your recommendation, please consider the guiding questions below; these are aligned with the criteria included on the review form. You do not need to answer every question or organize your response according to this format. We simply provide these to aid in your thinking.
1) Does the piece contribute to the field of young adult literature and mission of TAR by exploring, highlighting, and/or complicating theories and/or practices of young adult literature?
- Is the paper likely to ignite conversation within the profession?
- Is the paper of potential interest to education professionals across a range of institutional contexts and levels?
- Are the implications of the paper potentially significant?
2) Does the piece demonstrate scholarly rigor?
- Is the author’s understanding of the subject informed by current scholarship?
- Does the author employ methods that are appropriate to the question(s) being asked? Are these methods clearly, thoroughly, and appropriately articulated?
- Does the author provide a clear and well-supported argument for claims made?
3) Does the piece demonstrate clarity of writing?
- Is the piece written in a tone likely to invite readers’ interest?
- Is the piece organized in such a way that helps readers navigate the argument made?
- Is the piece free from errors in language, punctuation, grammar, usage, etc. that impede readers’ understandings?
In your response to the author(s), we encourage you to explain your thinking and comment upon both strengths of the paper and suggestions for revision. We aim for the review process to be educative and positive for all authors. Below, we include a sample response for your use. Again, your review does not need to follow this format. We share this as one model to consider. As always, please don’t hesitate to send any questions our way.
Thank you for sharing your thoughtful work on an important topic. It is clear that you and your participants gained much through the book club experience. I found particularly relevant the ways in which your study attests to the power of engagement with literature to extend beyond development of readers’ skills and into socio-cultural understandings of the self and others. This intimates the need for and value of those who engage in literature study with students to actively foster critical reflection that makes transparent the underlying messages of power, privilege, and gendered identities that texts inherently contain. I appreciate, too, the clarity of your writing. The subheadings in the Findings section, in particular, help readers follow the progression of your argument from one section to the next.
To make your argument clearer and more compelling to readers, I encourage you to better align the various elements of your piece. In the Discussion, you state that you conducted a “***” (p.), that your findings “***” (p.), and that your work underpins the value of “***” (p.). While these are indeed important contributions to the field, I’m not entirely convinced that you’ve created the necessary argument to be able to make these claims in the way you’ve currently presented your study. I recommend that you consider the following:
1) The Literature section provides important contextual information that grounds your study relative to girls’ literacy, gendered texts, and book clubs. However, given the emphasis on power and privilege in the Discussion (an important emphasis), I encourage you to describe research that addresses these issues in the field as they relate to your work to more accurately frame your study’s goals.
2) You provide a strong general statement of summary regarding your work (p.), but how you came to the answer, “***,” is unclear. I recommend that you explicitly state your research question and then, in the Findings, demonstrate clearly how your data reflect the development of your answer to this question.
3) I appreciate the level of detail included in your Findings. Hearing the participants’ voices throughout this section makes your work compelling and engaging; you help us care about them and their resulting perceptions that grow out of examination of the text. For each finding, however, I’d love to see you focus more intentionally on gender and relate your findings back to your Literature Review. You touch on this in your discussion of *** when you note, “***” (p.). How might you develop your analysis of this claim to more clearly address what it means to be a female in this community? Similarly, in the discussion of ***, you might explore the ways in which the term seems to be gender-specific, often present in female discourse but rarely, if ever, in male discourse. And in the section on ***, I was fascinated by the ways in which the girls rejected a potentially physical response because it would not be approved and instead suggested a more socially acceptable, passive response. Again, how might this speak to the roles of girls and boys in the school environment in which they exist?
4) As indicated earlier, your Discussion contains evidence of careful analysis and thinking that moves the conversation forward. At times, however, this section reads more like literary analysis, particularly when you discuss the representation of girls the selected text (and other literature) contains (p.). This information might be important but would feel essential to your work if it were more carefully connected to your Findings and an expanded Lit Review that addresses power and privilege.
Beyond the issue of alignment, I encourage you to delineate more clearly (and with examples) the processes of analysis that led to these particular findings. Perhaps provide examples of your thinking during the analysis process (Why was a particular piece of data categorized in one way and not another? Did your categories change as the analysis progressed? Were any data eliminated given a lack of richness across sources? etc.).
Thank you again for your willingness to submit your study for review. I appreciate the opportunity to read your important work and wish you all the best.