Review Guidelines

Guidance for Reviewers of Submissions to IJSaP

These guidelines have been written to help reviewers new to reviewing for IJSaP. However, we hope that all reviewers will find them helpful in writing supportive, developmental reviews.

Top Tips:

  • Think of the review as a form of respectful dialogue:
    • Speak directly to the author of the submission. For example, ‘you discuss…’, ‘your approach to student-faculty/staff partnership illuminates…’ etc.
    • Use clear and concise language, and make sure your comments, particularly suggestions for development, are specific so that the authors understand how they can improve their submission. For example, you could direct the author to the particular page or section that you are discussing, to better facilitate your suggestions. The tone of your writing should be supportive and developmental.
  • If it helps you to organise your thoughts, feel free to print the submission off and annotate it physically, or download the submission and add your comments directly into the document If your comments are electronic and anonymised, you can choose to submit your annotations along with your review to further support the author(s).
  • Proofread your review to ensure you capture any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, as this will help the clarity of your review. You can download a free version of Grammarly to assist you with your spelling, punctuation, and grammar. 

Process of Constructing a Review:

  1. Provide an introduction: To start your review, provide a brief summary about how your review is structured and your overall thoughts on the submission, starting with the positive (see point #2 below). You can think of this as an introductory sentence, and like all introductions, it is often easier to write them last once you have formed the main body of your review.
  1. Note areas of strength and particular contribution. Start your review by offering specific appreciation for what the submissions offers to IJSaP In keeping with the journal’s developmental approach, it is important to affirm and support authors in what they have offered and what their research, case study, opinion piece, reflective essay, or review will, in turn, offer readers.
  1. Note areas of confusion: All submissions to the journal should be written clearly to enable non-specialist or non-academic audiences to read them. This means that you should make a note of any part of the submission that does not make sense to you, as this indicates where extra clarity may be required from the author(s) (if it is unclear to you, it’s likely to be unclear to others). If at any point, while reading the submission, you feel confused, whether this is about the aims, purposes, or context of the work, you should discuss this in your review as an area of further development.
  1. Organise your feedback against the IJSAP criteria: Your review should make reference to the list of criteria outlined for each submission type (i.e., reflective essays, case studies, etc. all have their own criteria that reviewers should evaluate the submission against). Consider each criterion in turn when reading through the submission, make a note of the areas that the submission meets, surpasses, or needs revision and include this feedback in your review. If you think it would be helpful, copy from the IJSaP website the criteria for the genre of submission and paste it directly into your review.
  1. Be considerate and supportive: IJSaP is a developmental journal that seeks to support as many authors as possible to get their work published. Even if you think that a submission requires a lot more work to progress it to the point of publication, remember that it has taken the author(s) a lot of time, effort, and resources to engage in student-faculty/staff partnership work, and to reflect, plan, and construct a submission to IJSaP. With this in mind, try to sustain a positive tone in your review and be as helpful and supportive as possible with the aim of assisting the author(s) to improve their submission.

Writing Effective and Encouraging Reviews of Reflective Essays 

In commenting on reflective essay submissions reviewers should refer directly to the criteria for this genre.

Criteria for Review of Reflective Essays

  • Provide a thoughtful explanation of the lived experiences of students-as-partners work and critical analysis of those experiences
  • Illuminate the day-to-day practicalities of pedagogical partnership and/or insights gained into the potential of such collaboration in higher education
  • Situate the focal practice for a broad readership: provide necessary details of context and of the project or practice so readers across contexts can understand
  • Refrain or limit from presenting too much information on the content and outcomes of the projects in which they were engaged
  • Explicitly discuss the partnership experience, process, and implications of the work for partnership
  • Convey to readers the particulars of partnership, in terms of experiences and insights, rather than assume familiarity with or understanding of partnership and how it can unfold
  • Show as opposed to tell: offer vivid, detailed examples instead of simply stating that something happened
  • Treat their own lived experiences as data for analysis
  • Analyze as much as describe: offer explanations and interpretations rather than assuming examples speak for themselves
  • Dig deeply into analyses: make assumptions explicit, clearly articulate insights and conclusions, and make connections across points
  • Speak with, not for, others: co-reflect and co-author rather than only using quotes, and if co-authoring is not an option, be sure to capture multiple perspectives/voices rather than letting some voices to be ‘louder’ than others
  • Keep writings personal and write an informal, first-person account of the lived experience of partnership
  • Include a small number of citations of existing literature, but stay light on citation.
  • Further guidance on writing reflective pieces can be found here.

See also chapter 18 (Reflective Essays) of Healey, Matthews, and Cook-Sather (2020) for further guidance at

Steps in drafting an effective and encouraging review:

  • Start with affirmation. Offer some general comments to authors that affirm their efforts, noting specifically what you appreciate about the draft and how it could contribute to IJSaP. It is important to be general and also specific.
  • Recognize the personal experiences shared. Affirm/validate in particular the lived experience described in the piece. (This is especially important because reflective essays are personal and can make authors feel especially vulnerable).
  • Identify what is working well. Offer appreciation of what the authors convey clearly and powerfully; be specific about what you appreciate and why, and link these points to the criteria for reflective essays.
  • Frame your recommendations as inquires and suggestions. Pose questions in your “Comments”—ask for clarification, more detail in the examples, greater depth of analysis—as needed and indicate why such detail would be helpful to readers. Please be sure to specify why you are suggesting a particular revision—why will it help readers?
  • Be specific with recommendations. Suggest specific ways the author can revise to achieve greater clarity, detail, and depth.
  • Summarize main points. Finally, provide a summary of the main points of appreciation and suggested revision at the end of the Google Doc to pull together the points you have made.

Here are a few "sentence starters" and model questions that you may want to use while reviewing:

  • This essay seems like a good fit for IJSaP..
  • The experiences you discuss here are compelling because...
  • I really appreciate this point because....
  • I respect how candid you are in sharing this point. It will really help readers understand...
  • While I can see that it's important to include some description here, I wonder if readers would benefit from more analysis to help them understand...
  • While it's important to give readers context, might you be able to offer more detail here of how this experience felt to you?
  • Can you say something about the why? Just stating that you did something does not help readers understand why or how they might follow your lead.
  • Can you be more detailed/specific about the process? What was the process and what did it feel like?
  • How did you deal with XXX? What did you learn from it, and how did it inform your partnership work?