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Journal of Extension (JOE) Peer-Review Processes and Principles

JOE reviewers are subject specialists with a publication track record. If you are interested in serving as a reviewer, please email the JOE editorial team ().

Understanding the Responsibilities and Value of the JOE Peer Reviewer Role

Your responsibilities as a JOE peer reviewer include:

  • critically reading an assigned manuscript for subject matter, content, rigor, and usefulness to Extension professionals;
  • providing thoughtful and thorough constructive comments regarding the manuscript; and
  • completing your review of the manuscript within 30 days of receiving access to it.

Overall, your obligation is to apply your breadth and depth of subject-area expertise and understanding of quantitative, qualitative, and/or mixed-methods research methodologies to help authors strengthen their research and scholarly writing capabilities, enhance JOE’s level of rigor, and ensure the quality of the journal.

Through serving as a JOE reviewer, you make an important contribution to professional development of Extension personnel. JOE authors express grateful sentiments about reviewers’ critiques, queries, and suggestions. They remark about how helpful the insights are and how vastly improved their manuscripts are as a result of the peer-review process.

Understanding JOE’s Two-Tiered Review Process

The JOE submission-review process involves two tiers of review: an initial review performed by a JOE associate editor (AE) and, for submissions in certain article categories, double-blind peer review. Commentary and Tools of the Trade submissions are reviewed solely by the AEs. If advanced by an AE, Feature, Research in Brief, and Ideas at Work submissions undergo peer review.

The first substantial round of review for any manuscript submitted to JOE is the editorial review. This review occurs after the JOE editorial team has screened the submission to assess compliance with manuscript formatting and technical specifications. In the editorial review, a JOE AE reviews the manuscript for alignment with JOE’s purpose and scope; appropriate article categorization; organization, coherence, and consistency in development of the topic; clarity and precision of the writing; consistency between presentations and discussions of data; proper grammar, mechanics, and style; and avoidance of errors of carelessness (e.g., typos, repeated words).

The editorial review results in one of two outcomes:

  • The AE rejects the manuscript because it fails to meet required standards.
  • The AE advances the manuscript to the next stage in the publication process. For Feature, Research in Brief, and Ideas at Work submissions, this means that the AE advances the manuscript to peer review. When advancing a manuscript to peer review, the AE provides the author with explicit feedback regarding needed revisions and asks the author to apply the revisions in preparing a version of the manuscript that will be advanced for peer review.

The purposes of the editorial review are to assist prospective JOE authors, from novices to veterans, with professional development in the area of scholarly writing; to allow JOE reviewers to focus on the methodological rigor and importance of submissions; to help ensure the quality of the journal’s content; and to influence the culture of publishing in Extension.

Conducting Reviews

Completing Review Forms and Marking Up Manuscripts

When the JOE editorial team assigns you a manuscript to review, the assignment materials include a copy of the manuscript; the appropriate review form (Feature Review Form, Research in Brief Review Form, or Ideas at Work Review Form); and JOE Peer Review Form Guidance, a document that offers guidance on what to consider when responding to the various sections of a review form.

The review form contains fields for responding to criteria statements, providing an overall rating and suggested disposition, and indicating whether a submission should be categorized differently. In addition to completing the review form, you should make relevant edits and comments on the manuscript itself as needed. Making comments and asking questions on a manuscript allows you to be more specific and zero in on areas of the manuscript you think need attention. Comments and edits on manuscripts often are more directly helpful to authors than the more general evaluative comments on the review forms.

Reporting Conflicts of Interest, Unsuitable Assignments, and Potentially Late Reviews

If while conducting a review you find that you have a conflict of interest relative to the submission or that the topic of the submission is outside your area(s) of expertise, notify the editorial team as soon as possible, and explain the situation. The editorial team will reassign review of the submission.

Late reviews cause delays in the publication process. If you anticipate that you will not complete a review assignment by the deadline, please notify the editorial team as soon as possible, and provide an estimated date of completion.

Understanding What Happens After You Complete a Peer Review

After receiving notification that all reviews for a manuscript have been completed, the applicable AE makes a disposition decision based on the results of the peer-review process. The disposition decision options are: accept for publication, accept for publication contingent on minor revision, require major revision and resubmission, or reject. For manuscripts in the other two categories, the final disposition decision occurs after the author has undertaken revision of the manuscript.

After making the disposition decision based on the results of the peer-review process, the AE sends the corresponding author an email that contains the disposition decision, information about next steps, and materials from the review(s). When the next steps involve returning a revised manuscript, the AE requests that the corresponding author provide not only a revised version of the manuscript but also a detailed explanation of how the manuscript has been revised in response to the peer review process. When authors fail to address sufficiently concerns raised during the peer-review process or provide satisfactory explanations of their revisions, AEs return revised manuscripts for further work and sometimes reject submissions on these grounds. On rare occasions, AEs consult reviewers about authors’ revisions.

Reviewer Resources

Download our peer review guidance document (.docx)