The Journal of the Learning Sciences (JLS) strives to be a space where all authors are supported and treated with dignity. The reviews that authors receive are a critical part of how this support and care is provided. To ensure that JLS reviewers are embodying this commitment, we are developing more explicit norms for writing reviews.
When reviewers complete reviews, they will be prompted by the submission system to check a box indicating that they have considered these norms before submitting their final review.
Our primary suggestion is that all reviewers should follow the Golden Rule. Before submitting your review, ask yourself: “how would I feel if I received this review (especially as a researcher who may have less power in the field)?”
Specifically, JLS reviewers should (and JLS Editors will check for):
- Use respectful language that honors the knowledge and expertise of the authors
- Be open to new perspectives, methodologies, and contexts of learning that have potential to expand the field in meaningful ways
- Offer criticism in a constructive way; strive to be uplifting and mentoring
- Focus your review on the ideas and analyses presented in the manuscript and not on an author’s identity, ability, personality, or qualification
- Provide feedback that helps authors improve their arguments and not your own
- Use gender-neutral language when writing about authors (e.g., using the terms “the author” or “they” in reviews might be most appropriate)
- As much as you can, focus on the substance of the research presented and not so much on their grammar and writing style (though we recognize these are interconnected)
- To support authors in addressing issues of power and positionality in their writing, pose questions that come from a place of curiosity rather than judgment
JLS deeply values the contributions of our reviewers whom we recognize take considerable time and intellectual energy to write detailed, rigorous, and supportive reviews. We hope these norms will serve as points of reflection as we work together to further enhance our review practices and grow our field. For more resources, please see https://www.isls.org/journals/jls/jls-resources (short videos from our JLS reviewers reflecting on how they approach their review tasks).