Instructions for Reviewers

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 ad hoc reviewers. There are two major responsibilities for JAAL reviewers: promoting the journal and 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.

Reviewing Manuscripts: Participation in the peer-review process is absolutely essential to the success and reputation of the journal and is solely the 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, see the How to Review for JAAL section below.


Characteristics of a Quality Reviewer

Knowledgeable: Each reviewer is 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. In your Manuscript Central profile, select your areas of expertise carefully so only appropriate manuscripts will be sent to you. Typically, reviewers select between six and eight keywords.

Available: JAAL receives approximately 225 manuscripts annually. Editorial Review Board members typically review five or six manuscripts per year; ad hoc reviewers typically review two or three manuscripts per year, as needed. Appointment as an Editorial Review Board member is for one calendar year. Editorial Review Board members are acknowledged in each issue; ad hoc reviewers are acknowledged in the final issue of each volume. Make sure to inform the JAAL editorial office at of any extended absences and of any changes in your affiliation or e-mail address.

Internet-Connected: A 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 due date. If you are unable to meet the deadline, contact the JAAL editorial office at immediately.


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: 

Ethical: JAAL manuscripts undergo double-blind peer review: The authors and the reviewers are not revealed to each other. If you discern an author’s identity, the integrity of the review process may be compromised, so inform the JAAL editorial office at 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 JAAL editorial office immediately.

Fair: Reviewers may be asked to review a manuscript that employs a theoretical, 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. Do not offer minor copyediting suggestions, such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation, because these issues will be addressed later in the publication process. Provide citations/references when referring to published sources in the review.

Constructive: Authors invest a great deal in their manuscripts, and reviewers’ comments should be professional, courteous, and helpful. It is important for reviewers’ tone to be respectful and kind to avoid discouraging submissions, especially from first-time and/or early-career authors. 

Specific: Reviewers must rate each manuscript as “accept,” “accept with minor revision,” “revise and resubmit,” or “reject.” Reviewers are also asked to submit a written analysis of the submission’s quality. Typical reviews include enough detail within roughly 400–700 words. Authors need substantive, concrete suggestions concerning the strengths and weaknesses of their work, whether reviewers recommend publication or not. Specific and substantial comments also aid the editors in adjudicating a manuscript when reviews conflict.

Well Written: Reviews are shared with authors. The decision letter and reviews are also shared with all reviewers of the manuscript to help reviewers calibrate their review of manuscripts and review quality. Make sure to craft carefully worded, spell-checked reviews in Standard English.


The Criteria Used by Reviewers to Assess Manuscripts

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 an appropriate tone and form for a scholarly journal and with a clearly stated focus. 

Length: Full-length manuscripts should be between 4,000 and 6,000 words long (approximately 20 pages), including all elements except the abstract.


How to Review for JAAL

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

Response: Indicate that you accept, decline, or are unavailable to review the manuscript by clicking the response link in the invitation or by contacting the JAAL editorial office at When you respond, you will receive a confirmation e-mail. If you do not receive this e-mail, contact the JAAL editorial office. 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 because they are on separate systems.) The manuscript will then be listed in your Reviewer Center in Manuscript Central.

Extensions: If you are unable to return a review by the deadline noted in the confirmation e-mail, contact the JAAL editorial office at about an extension.

Reassignment: If you miss the deadline and have not contacted the JAAL editorial office for an extension, the manuscript may be assigned to another reviewer.

Comments: You can prepare your comments off-line and then copy and paste them into your online score sheet. When working online, click “Save as Draft” at the bottom of the score sheet often to save your comments and to avoid losing your work during possible system updates. This will also allow you to return later to complete the review.

Submitting Your Review: Click “Submit” at the bottom of the score sheet. You will then receive an e-mail confirming receipt of your review. If you do not receive the confirmation e-mail, complete any required sections of the score sheet that you may have missed and click “Submit” again. In your Reviewer Center, you can also follow the progress of manuscripts that you have reviewed.

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.