The Editorial Review Process
The primary objective of the JCR editorial review process is to ensure that each submitted manuscript is evaluated rigorously, equitably, and in accordance with criteria that are appropriate for its source discipline, perspective, and method. JCR aspires to publish the highest quality scholarship relevant to consumption. The journal seeks to publish articles that speak to an interdisciplinary audience while exhibiting quality commensurate with the best research.
The future of JCR and the consumer behavior field depend on our reviewers, who consistently approach their volunteer duties in a wise, generous, respectful, helpful, and inspiring manner. A quality review requires a positive and scholarly attitude and a rigorous and punctual evaluation of the manuscript. The next section expands on these aspects of a quality review.
Roles in the Process
The review process at JCR has three levels. The role of the editor is to assign the associate editor and the reviewers, and to make a final decision. The role of the Associate Editor is to mediate the review process by integrating and prioritizing reviewer comments. When making revisions, authors are encouraged to rely on the AE reports as their guides. The AE reports are themselves based on the rich and detailed insights of JCR's expert and professional reviewers. Hence, good reviews are foundational to the review process and JCR.
Conducting and Communicating a JCR Review
It is a substantial service to the field of consumer research, and to the authors especially, when a scholar conducts an exemplary manuscript review for JCR. The best reviews are careful, conducted without paradigmatic or other bias, clear, detailed, kind, and timely. Please consider the following specific suggestions in crafting your review:
- Contribution Statements. As a reviewer, you should consider a paper from the perspective of the contribution statement on the abstract page. That statement is designed to help the review team focus on the authors' desired contribution. You should evaluate the importance of the intended contribution and the degree to which the manuscript lives up to the contribution. You are free to suggest alterations to the intended contribution but should not submit comments that assume a contribution other than the one intended by authors.
- Prioritize Comments. You should strive to explicitly distinguish between what is perceived as correctable versus uncorrectable problems and between major versus minor concerns. The first round of review is the time to highlight uncorrectable problems or other major concerns. It is inappropriate to raise them in later review rounds if they already existed in the initial version.
- Impartiality. Please strive to be impartial. If you cannot separate the evaluation process from a desire to advocate a particular theory or philosophical perspective, then you should recuse yourself.
- Diplomacy. Please be polite, diplomatic, and discerning. Phrases such as "fatal flaws" or "serious mistakes" might instead be offered as "substantial concerns" or "major issues."
- Alternative Explanations. Sometimes there are alternative explanations for the empirical findings. When this criticism is raised, it is vital for you to describe in detail how the relevant alternative interpretation is consistent with most or all of the data, and not just relevant to a subset of the data.
- Precision. Sharing suggestions for improvement in the most precise manner possible will raise the likelihood that the authors will understand, appreciate, and utilize those ideas.
A quality review has several pivotal features. It is rigorous and thorough, anonymous and confidential, and prompt.
- Rigor and Thoroughness. The title and the abstract as well as all assumptions, assertions, analyses, and implications should be considered in detail. If you are competent to evaluate only a particular aspect of a paper, please indicate such in the confidential summary to the editor and associate editor. Always note the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the manuscript in sufficient detail to support your recommendation to the editor and associate editor. For instance, when referring to previous research, always provide a complete citation.
- Anonymity and Confidentiality. JCR uses a double-blind anonymous review process, meaning that authors and reviewers are never informed of the other's identities. You may be aware of an author's identity, for example, as the result of prior presentations of the research. While such knowledge is unavoidable and not in itself reason to dismiss a reviewer, you should contact the JCR office immediately if you believe you might face any bias, positive or negative, in the assessment of the work (you perceive a conflict of interest). Likewise, you should never allude to your identity in any manner in their reviews. As a matter of confidentiality, it is also a violation of the authors' right to privacy to discuss a JCR manuscript with anyone else (though confidential and professional conduct in consultation with a colleague who may be more proficient in a particular area is acceptable).
- Promptness. A quality review is submitted on or before the due date.
Components of a ReviewA JCR review has four components. These include:
- your confidential short summary note to the editor and associate editor
- your confidential recommendation for the manuscript's disposition
- your comments to the authors (Word file)
- your agreement to participate in the Manuscript Review Histories project
A confidential summary letter intended only for the editor and associate editor is the forum where you can be completely honest. Rather than convey frustrations or strongly negative judgments directly to the authors, you should reserve these assessments for the confidential summary.
Confidential Recommendation for Disposition
Reviewer recommendations are advisory to the editor and associate editor. Please make a recommendation only to the editor and associate editor, but please be sure your recommendation matches the content of your review.
The overall recommendation has several options:
Accept Unconditionally. This rarely used category should be reserved for manuscripts that are virtually flawless in their content. In general, when you make this recommendation, you will be regarded as having signed off on the manuscript.
Accept Conditionally, Subject to Minor Revisions. This recommendation should be made when the manuscript is judged to be quite strong with the contribution in place subject to only minor and low risk additions, deletions, or corrections.
Invite Revision, According to Accompanying Comments. This recommendation should be used for manuscripts that have a high degree of potential for eventual publication, in addition to significant changes that must be made. This recommendation should be used when you believe that satisfactory resolution to your concerns is possible and that the achievement of successful resolution will result in an acceptable manuscript. Detailed comments to the authors are extremely important in support of this recommendation, so that the authors can respond to all the concerns in a single revision. A clear delineation of the major concerns that must be addressed for publication versus more minor and optional concerns is also important, again so that authors will have the necessary guidance. (A recommendation in this category should not be construed as a guarantee of eventual publication. In some cases, a promising manuscript will not be adequately revised to attain the quality and level of knowledge contribution required for publication in JCR.)
Invite Risky Revision. This recommendation should be used for manuscripts that seem promising but for which either a) the steps needed to achieve the contribution carry with them substantial risk or b) the steps to achieve the contribution are unclear (the problems are apparent but the means of solving them are not). In choosing this category, you are signalling that the likelihood of the paper proceeding after the next round is unpredictable given the magnitude and scope of the revision that is required.
Reject Unconditionally, Because the Likelihood of Successful Revision Is Remote. This recommendation is appropriate for papers that are weak and for which there is no identifiable path to publication at JCR. For example, the topic may be of minor importance to the domain of consumer behavior, the core idea may be interesting but the basic conceptual development may be extremely weak or incorrect, or the empirical work may have defects that cannot readily be remedied. This category will be the modal category for JCR submissions, based on the overall historical rejection rate of approximately 90 percent. Comments to the authors should be especially polite in explaining the nature of the concerns, but need not be as lengthy as in the previous categories. While it is permissible and efficient to articulate only the most serious concerns, in cases when the core idea is interesting, thoughtful advice for how to produce potentially publishable work for another journal by building from that idea may be included.
Comments to the Authors
The comments to the authors represent the most important component of the JCR review. They provide the rationale for your evaluation of the manuscript, as well as suggestions for the improvement of the paper.
Comments to the authors are generally most useful to the authors and the editors when they begin with an overall assessment of your reaction to the manuscript, including prominent strengths and weaknesses. This big picture is valuable in providing a context for the more detailed comments that follow. After the overall assessment, the detailed comments offer constructive, specific guidance for a revision or for future research efforts.
The comments to the authors should also not contain any semblance of a recommended rejection or acceptance of the manuscript. Such recommendations should be made only in the confidential summary letter to the editor and associate editor. It is the editor's responsibility to make the final decision. You should not reveal their identities in the comments to the authors.
Participation in the Manuscript Review Histories Project
JCR provides Manuscript Review Histories online as teaching materials for advisers and students. We ask that you agree to include your reviews in this project. The material used will be strictly confidential (blind), and published online no earlier than a year after receipt. Your participation will enhance JCR's efforts to provide educational opportunities for doctoral students.
JCR Tutorial on Reviewing
A Field Guide for the Review Process: Writing and Responding to Peer Reviews
by Rajesh Bagchi, Lauren Block, Rebecca W. Hamilton, and Julie L. Ozanne