Tips and Guidelines for Reviewers
The most important thing to remember about the task of reviewing is the scholastic 
camaraderie that lies at the heart of process.  Due to the anonymous nature of the 
exchange, that process can often seem “detached,” yet it need not be.  Recall the 
last time you received comments back, whether positive or negative, on your own 
work.  In the best cases, those comments can be enormously helpful and productive, 
and in the worst, they can feel like destructive insults.  That doesn’t mean that 
we should sacrifice honesty in our feedback for fear of hurting an author’s 
feelings.  It does mean that we should make the assumption that our words carry 
great weight and mean a lot to the authors who read them.  The review itself can 
serve as an effective and useful teaching moment, and that is just as true for 
submissions that are enthusiastically accepted as it is for those that are 
vehemently rejected.  

That said, such a lofty purpose does not require a lofty tone and style.  For 
instance, though many reviewers may be more comfortable referring to “the author” 
and maintaining a third-person distance, such a convention is not a rule.  Since 
your review is after all a more or less direct communication between you and the 
author, an I-you rapport can be a very effective and efficient means of explaining 
and supporting your evaluation.  The larger point, though, is to be true to your 
own writing style and voice in your dialog.  

Finally, as many of us know from grading our students’ papers, it is impossible to 
comment on everything.  Using “track changes” can actually increase the temptation 
to jump in at every moment.  Providing too much feedback can be as much of a problem 
as not giving enough.  A useful rule of thumb is to use your comments within the 
text to address “local” issues and reserve the comments at the end for a more 
“global” summation. 
 
My reviewer name is ZED.  Those aren’t my initials.  I just enjoy being ZED for 
AEQ, and I have been a reviewer here for over three years.  One convention that 
I have adopted in all my reviews is to end with the statement: “I hope these 
comments are helpful.”  Whether I am saying yes, no, or something in between, 
it is well meant; I also hope that these tips and guidelines are helpful to you 
reviewers.