For Referees

The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy (JAAL) is a peer-reviewed publication, online and in print, created to provide a scholarly research/practice-based forum for teachers, researchers, and others committed to improving classroom instruction for literacy learners ages 12 and older.

Reviewers serve as Editorial Review Board members or as guest reviewers. There are two major responsibilities for JAAL reviewers: 1) promoting the journal; 2) reviewing selected manuscripts. Both responsibilities are important for the success of the journal.

Promoting the Journal: Those reviewing for the journal are asked to promote JAAL by submitting their own manuscripts for review, by recommending and encouraging other potential authors, by introducing the journal to potential readers and subscribers; and/or by communicating formally and informally with the editors about issues of relevance to the journal. All reviewers are invited to attend a formal business meeting held annually at the ILA conference and are encouraged to contact the editors at any time during the year with issues, concerns and topics for editors to consider.

Reviewing Manuscripts: Participation in the peer-review process is absolutely essential to the success and reputation of this journal and is the sole responsibility of the reviewers and editors. It is critical to the journal and to the field. Reviewers along with the editors determine what work is of quality and significance; and, because of the extensive readership of JAAL, what research and scholarship will ultimately have an impact on literacy classrooms nationally and internationally. The peer-review process is extremely important. For more information about online reviewing, please read the “How to Review” information.

Reviewers Need to Be:

Knowledgeable. All reviewers are selected by the editors because they believe the reviewer is well qualified in the field of literacy education. However, reviewers should have basic knowledge about the specific area or topic of the manuscript under review. Please select your areas of expertise carefully so that only appropriate manuscripts may be sent to you.

Available. Editorial Review Board members may review as much as once a month; guest reviewers as needed, up to 4 or 5 times per year. JAAL receives 250–300 manuscripts annually. Each article is considered by two Editorial Review Board members and by one guest reviewer. Appointment to the Editorial Review Board is for one calendar year, and precedes the volume year (September to May) in which members are listed in the journal. Guest reviewers are acknowledged in the final issue of each volume. Please inform the editorial office of any extended absences, and of any changes in your affiliation or e-mail address.

Internet-connected (wired). High-speed Internet connection, e-mail, and up-to-date browser software are required as the manuscript review process is conducted entirely online.

Responsible. Reviews need to be completed by the date indicated. If you are unable to meet the deadline, contact the editorial office immediately. Also, in completing your review be mindful of the information listed below.

What Makes a Good Review?

As stated previously, peer-reviewing is critical to the journal and to the field. Good reviews will have the following characteristics. The review will need to be:

Ethical. Our review standard is “double blind”: Neither authors nor reviewers are revealed to one another. If you discern an author’s identity, the integrity of the review process may be compromised. Please inform the editorial office about any conflict of interest. Manuscripts under review are confidential. Do not discuss, circulate, or quote from manuscripts except in communication with the editors or the editorial office. If you are aware that the material under review has been previously published, alert the editorial office.

Fair. Reviewers may be asked to review a manuscript that employs a theoretical or methodological or cultural perspective different from their own. Evaluate the manuscript on its own terms, but do not hesitate to indicate how it might benefit from your perspective.

Scholarly. Reviewers need to substantiate their judgments, rather than simply offering opinions, and focus on the big issues of content, reasoning, style, and audience appropriateness. Editorial staff will handle minor copy-editing issues: spelling, grammar and punctuation. Provide citations/references when referring to published sources in the review.

Constructive. Reviews need to be professional and courteous. Authors invest a great deal in their manuscripts, and so reviewers’ comments should be helpful and instructive. If reviewers recommend rejection, they need to provide feedback for improvement of the manuscript, or for future studies. Reviewers might also suggest other publication outlets.

Specific. Reviews should inform the authors and editors of the rationale for the reviewer’s recommendation. Authors need substantive, concrete suggestions concerning the strengths and weaknesses of their work. Whatever the reviewer’s recommendation, specific and substantial comments are needed so that the editors can fairly adjudicate a manuscript in the event of conflicting reviews from those assigned the manuscript.

Well-written. Reviews are shared with authors. Please craft carefully worded, spell-checked, reviews in Standard English.

The Criteria Used by Reviewers to Assess Manuscripts Are:

Originality. Manuscripts should offer new knowledge or a new and insightful synthesis of existing knowledge.

Significance. Manuscripts should offer knowledge that is important to the field and will make a difference to adolescent and/or adult literacy education.

Scholarship. Manuscripts need to have a solid theoretical base, and offer an appropriate blend of theory and practice. Conclusions must be fully supported by the evidence provided.

Audience appropriateness. Manuscripts must appeal to JAAL’s diverse audience of teachers, researchers, consultants, and others committed to improving adolescent and/or adult literacy.

Writing and style. Manuscripts must be well-written, in appropriate tone and form for a scholarly journal. The focus of the manuscript must be clearly stated.

Length. Full-length manuscripts should not exceed 6,000 words (approximately 20 pages). Please note sections that can be deleted in manuscripts that exceed the required length or suggest areas to be extended in manuscripts that are short and/or under-developed.

How to Review for the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy:

Invitation. You will be e-mailed an invitation to review a manuscript.

Response. Indicate that you agree, decline, or are unavailable to review by clicking the response link in the invitation or by contacting ILA publications staff. Once you respond, you will receive a confirmation e-mail. If you do not receive this e-mail, contact publications staff. You may receive reminders until your response is confirmed.

Confirmation. When you agree to review, your confirmation e-mail will provide the review deadline and your log-in information for Manuscript Central, the online review system. (This log-in may differ from your ILA website log-in; these are separate systems.) The manuscript will then be listed in your Reviewer Center.

Extensions. If you are unable to return a review by the deadline, contact publications staff about an extension.

Reassignment. If you miss the deadline and have not contacted staff, the manuscript will be assigned to another reviewer.

Comments. Prepare your comments offline, then copy and paste them into your online score sheet. When working online, click on “Save as Draft” often to save your comments. This will also allow you to return later and complete the review.

Complete your review. Click on “Submit” at the bottom of the score sheet. You will then receive an e-mail confirming receipt of your review. You can follow the progress of manuscripts you have reviewed by logging into your Reviewer Center.

Revisions. If an author is invited to revise and resubmit a manuscript, every effort will be made to send the revision to the same reviewers who commented on the original submission.

Any questions or concerns may be directed to the JAAL Editorial Office at

Interested in becoming a JAAL reviewer? Ad hoc reviewer opportunities are available. E-mail your CV and expression of interest to for the editors’ consideration.