Information for Reviewers and Reviewer Guidelines

Thank you for your interest in serving as a reviewer of the Elementary School Journal (ESJ). The evaluation by peers of manuscripts submitted to the journal is a critical part of the editorial review process. These reviews ensure that we are publishing only the highest quality reports on issues of importance to educators and researchers interested in elementary education. We see the contributions of experts in the field to the review process as a professional responsibility to our community of scholars and to readers of the journal.

As editors, we invite reviewers with appropriate expertise, given the topic and methodology of a given paper. We expect that reviewers will complete their reviews within a month and stand ready to evaluate revisions of the paper, as needed. The first time you log on to Editorial Manager (our electronic submission system), we would appreciate your taking the time to provide information in your personal profile to indicate the areas in which you feel you could serve as a reviewer. Having this information in our database allows us to target reviewer invitations in a more fine-grained manner.

General Review Criteria

  1. Please prepare a thorough and detailed review. In the next section, we provide questions that you might consider as you prepare your review.
  2. When possible, please provide specific suggestions for improving the manuscript, rather than simply cataloguing problems. It is helpful also to describe the strengths you see in the manuscript.
  3. Consider the relevance and timeliness of the study. Please also consider whether the paper represents a significant contribution to the literature.
  4. Abstract: Consider whether the abstract presents a succinct overview of the purpose, method, and results of the study.
  5. Introduction: Consider whether the introduction provides a convincing rationale for the study, whether there is a theoretical framework that is used as the basis for the current study, and whether the review of the literature is used to shape an argument for the purpose and design of the study and for the research questions.
  6. Methodology: Consider whether the design and method of the study are clearly and completely explained and justified. Consider also whether there is a sound relationship between the research questions and the method of the study, including but not limited to the sources of data and the method of analysis of the data. Consider whether measures meet current standards for demonstrating reliability and validity.
  7. Results: Consider whether analyses of the data are clearly and completely reported; tables and figures should be interpretable and linked to the text. Consider whether the results are presented in such a way that the answers to the research questions are evident.
  8. Discussion: Consider whether the discussion links the results to the problem addressed in the introduction. In particular, findings should be discussed in relation to the theoretical framework and to previous research. Consider the extent to which generalizations and conclusions are warranted and whether limitations to the study are clearly stated. Consider whether recommendations or implications for practice are supported by the data. Finally, consider whether the researchers have indicated how their results contribute to the field.
  9. Stylistic and organizational issues: We recommend that reviewers become familiar with Chapter 1 (Writing for the Behavioral and Social Sciences) and Chapter 2 (Manuscript Structure and Content) in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) as needed. In addition, consider whether the writing is sufficiently clear and coherent so that it is not difficult to understand the author’s reasoning and information.

Questions to Guide the Preparation of Manuscript Reviews

The following are questions that reviewers might ask themselves as they prepare a review of a manuscript for ESJ.

Within the Introduction

  1. Is the literature review comprehensive? Are there important and relevant results from other studies that have not been incorporated?
  2. Are terms and constructs clearly defined?
  3. Is there a logical argument for the particular research questions, based on examination of theory and previous empirical research?
  4. Are the hypotheses, questions, or objectives explicitly stated and clear?
  5. Does the researcher make a convincing case that the research questions or objectives of the study are valuable?
  6. Does the author demonstrate positive or negative bias in describing the topic of the study? Are descriptions of participants and procedural details (e.g., programming, curriculum) free of bias?


In the Methods Section:

Are the research design, data sources, participants, and procedures clearly described and appropriate for addressing the research questions? For example:

  1. Does the sampling procedure produce a sample that is representative of the intended population?
  2. Is there a clear rationale for participants or subgroups if these are used to understand the phenomena being studied?
  3. Is each measure in the study sufficiently valid and reliable for its intended purpose?
  4. Is each measure, instrument, or protocol appropriate for the participants?
  5. Are the procedures appropriate and clearly stated and justified?


In the Results Section:

  1. Were statistical or other analytic techniques appropriate, given the research questions and the nature of the data, and were these procedures Implemented in an appropriate manner?
  2. Are responses to the research questions clearly presented?
  3. Are tables and figures readily interpretable? And do they add to the understanding of study results?


In the Discussion of Results:

  1. Are conclusions and generalizations warranted, given the study’s design, the data, and the analyses? Are the conclusions connected to the extant literature?
  2. Did the researchers provide reasonable explanation of the findings?
  3. Did the researchers draw reasonable implications for practice and future research from their findings?
  4. Did the researchers discuss salient limitations of the study?