Journal of Research in Science Teaching

Cover image for Vol. 54 Issue 2

Edited By: Fouad Abd-El-Khalick and Dana L. Zeidler

Impact Factor: 3.052

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2015: 6/230 (Education & Educational Research)

Online ISSN: 1098-2736

JRST Information for Reviewers


Thank you for your interest in serving as a reviewer for the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (JRST). The contributions of experts in the field to the peer review process are a vital part of our professional responsibility to the science education community and to the broad readership of the Journal. In order to provide timely, high-quality feedback to authors, the Journal’s editorial office asks reviewers to read and respond within 4 weeks of accepting a manuscript for review.

Becoming a JRST Reviewer

JRST accepts as reviewers scholars with a relevant publication history in the Journal or in other peer-reviewed publications. In order to review for the Journal, you must have or create a user account in the ScholarOne/Manuscript Central system at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jrst.

When you create or access your account, you will be asked to fill out personal profile information. Please fill this in completely, specifying your area(s) of expertise. At the bottom of the user profile page, there is an option to attach a file. Please attach a short form CV (3 pages) listing relevant publications and experience. Be sure to check the box indicating you are willing to review for the Journal.


Manuscript Review Criteria

All Journal of Research in Science Teaching (JRST) reviews should provide thorough and detailed feedback that include concrete suggestions to authors about how they can improve their manuscript. Such reviews not only help the authors they also support the editorial decision. JRST accepts manuscripts of many kinds including, but not limited to experimental, quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic, case study, survey, historical, and philosophical research approaches, as well as policy perspectives, position papers, and critical reviews of the literature. Please be mindful of the type of manuscript you are reviewing and address all of the applicable criteria when composing your reviews.

Authors and the editors will find comments that are specific and targeted toward helping make the final article as strong as possible the most useful. Taking the time to provide constructive guidance and rationale contributes in important ways to the professional development of our colleagues and the quality of the Journal. Below is a list of criteria that should be used when writing your review.

Overall perspective on the relevance and impact of the manuscript on the field

The manuscript addresses an area of research that is highly relevant.

The manuscript significantly advances understanding of science teaching and learning.

The manuscript is likely to have substantial impact on the field.

The manuscript may be of interest to broader research, practice, policy, or global scholarly communities.

Abstract

The abstract is concise, and it aligns with the detailed guidelines as presented in the APA Publications Manual.

Title, abstract, and keywords are optimized for search engine indexing.

Introduction

The author(s) make a convincing case that the topic is important/meaningful to the field of science teaching and learning.

Rationale for study

The rationale is current and focuses on scholarship that is most important to justifying the study.

The rationale establishes a link between the study and previous research.

The literature in the rationale relates directly to the research question(s).

The rationale provides a strong justification for the importance of the study.

Theoretical framework/perspective

The guiding theoretical framework/perspective is explained and justified.

The problems, questions, or hypotheses

There are one or more explicit problems, questions, or hypotheses.

The problems, questions, or hypotheses are important to science teaching and learning.

The problems, questions, or hypotheses link to the rationale.

Methodology

The methodology is appropriate for the problems, questions, or hypotheses.

The methodology is appropriate for the type of study (e.g., ethnographic, philosophical, experimental).

The methodology is reported thoroughly but concisely.

Samples and sampling procedures are clearly described.

Data sources are clearly described.

Instrumentation includes appropriate reliability and validity.

Results

Data tables, figures, and pictures are complete, easy to read and add significantly to the understanding of the study.

Quotations are documented and support assertions or warrants.

Data address the problems, questions, or hypotheses.

Discussion/Conclusions

The conclusions address the problems, questions, or hypotheses.

The conclusions are supported by the data.

The conclusions make a convincing argument for the importance/significance of the study for science teaching and learning.

The discussion clearly specifies the contributions made by the study and links the findings to work in the field.

The discussion highlights how the study findings support, differ from and expand ideas in the literature.

Limitations of the study are clearly identified.

Avenues for future research are identified (optional).

Style and expression

The manuscript length is consistent with JRST publication guidelines and necessary to properly present the work.

The title conveys the nature of the study.

The manuscript follows the APA publication guide.

The manuscript is clear, concise and easy to read.

The genre (e.g., expository, narrative) is appropriate for the study.

Appendixes and supporting figures and tables are placed in supplementary materials.

Supplementary materials (when applicable)

Supplementary materials are well written and organized clearly, following the APA publication guide and JRST Instruction to Authors.

The supplementary Methods section provides sufficient information and detail to allow the study to be replicated or authenticated by other researchers.

Supplementary tables, figures, and files provide substantive support for the conclusions of the article.

The authors provide relevant data files consistent with NIH, AAAS, APA and JRST expectations and requirements for professional data sharing.


Rubrics for Decision Recommendations

Reviewers often wonder how to “calibrate” their sense for what constitutes an “Accept with Major Revisions” vs. a “Revise and Resubmit.” The following are provided as guidance as you compose your reviews. The associate editor and editor assigned to the manuscript will also provide feedback after the decision to help you calibrate your judgment in reviewing.

Accept with Minor Revisions: The manuscript makes a substantial contribution to the field of science education. The authors provide a strong rationale for the importance of the problem or issue under examination. The methodology is appropriate for addressing the questions or issue. By “substantial contribution” we mean: (1) the findings of the manuscript provide insight into a critical existing science education problem or practice; (2) the manuscript provides new ways of investigating problems and questions in the field, or (3) the manuscript helps us think about critical issues in the field. However, one or more aspects of the manuscript need minor clarification. For instance, minor clarification of the methodology might be necessary.

Accept with Major Revisions: The manuscript makes a substantial contribution to field of science education, but one or more aspects of the manuscript need improvement. For instance, the data analysis section needs further clarification to show how the findings follow from the data. One common omission in submitted manuscripts is that authors fail to elucidate what the major contributions of the manuscript are to the field. Even with the need for improvement there is no doubt that the manuscript warrants publication in JRST.

Revise and Resubmit: The manuscript has the potential to make a substantial contribution to the field of science education, but as written the manuscript has too many weaknesses to allow you to make a decision. For instance, the authors may not have provided an appropriate rationale for the study or the methodology is poorly explained. The manuscript requires a substantive revision and then a re-evaluation for publication.

Reject: The manuscript has limited potential to make a substantial contribution to science education because there are too many weakness in the manuscript, one or more weaknesses that cannot be improved, or the manuscript does not provide new insights to the field. Rejections generally fall into two groups; manuscripts with particular weaknesses in the study or presentation, and manuscripts where the study may be strong but the work does not substantially advance the field.


Sample Review

The following sample review is provided as an example of an effective and complete manuscript review for the Journal, referencing the JRST Review Criteria.

Manuscript # XXXX

The abstract

The abstract follows APA publication guidelines. I recommend that the author use past tense throughout and add more on the implications of the study (significance argument).

Introduction

I very much enjoyed reading this section of the manuscript. I believe that the author makes a plausible case that the study could make a contribution to the field.

The literature review

The literature review is relatively current and focuses on scholarship most important to the study (a noticeable omission, however, is the [] article on the same topic published last year in JRST). It does an adequate job of highlighting the salient aspects of the “funds of knowledge” concept – a concept that I think is often misinterpreted and applied to lists of cultural characteristics, and cultural likes/dislikes in ways that don’t capture the dynamic nature or the true purpose of intergenerational funds of knowledge.

Theoretical Framework

The “funds of knowledge” theoretical framework needs more explication. I wonder if the author(s) could generate a figure or model that captures what they see as the origins of a given individual’s funds of knowledge, how these funds of knowledge are enacted in daily life and how they may (or may not) interact with constructions of science (formal or informal) that the individual encounters. Such a model would be useful, not only in the context of the present study, but also for helping others to better understand the funds of knowledge concept.

The problems, questions, or hypotheses

The question of what factors might encourage students to maintain a sustained interest in science beyond the scope of an individual project and how a funds of knowledge perspective might promote an understanding of this is an important question that both emerges from the literature and should be of value to the science teaching and learning community.

I wonder if the research question as stated on the bottom of p. 4 isn’t more of a top-level research problem beyond the scope of a single study? Are there more specific research questions that the researchers are trying to answer that fall out of this overarching problem?

Methodology

In general, the methodology of critical ethnography as described seems satisfactory for addressing the research question posed (but see my above comment on the research questions). I am concerned about the dated nature of the methodologists the author cites, however (pre-2000), There have been many new developments in qualitative methods in the last 5 years.

A few suggestions:

1) I was curious about the interview questions, and what was the nature of the interview protocol? Understanding that your methodology calls for a fairly open interview format, I still think it’s important to discuss a bit more about what was asked and why.

2) In reading about your grounded theory approach to data analysis I had this question – in describing the analysis it sounds as if the notion of sustained student interest in science was an emergent theme (rather than something you set out to investigate). Meanwhile, in framing the study earlier in the manuscript you discuss sustained student inquiry as what you wished to study in relation to student funds of knowledge. Obviously, either way is fine but not both – either you set out to study funds of knowledge and this idea about sustained interest was an emergent theme (in which case the link between funds of knowledge and sustained inquiry (or something) is one of your findings) or else you set out with the idea of sustained interest as one of the conceptual categories you were looking for (rather than as an emergent theme) and you found good examples of it (in which case the examples of sustained inquiry as linked to funds of knowledge are the finding). It’s easy as ethnographers to fall into the trap of revising what we say we were looking for to align with what we found. If something were really a grounded theory or an emergent theme then I think we need to distinguish between the theories and ideas that were guiding our work at the beginning of the study and how they evolved over time as influenced by the study – this after all is what is supposed to happen in grounded theory research we just need to report the process accurately.

Results

This comment is largely due to the length of the manuscript as it now stands (and knowing that reviewers, myself included) will ask for some additional information on some things that will lengthen the ms even more ---- while the individual case descriptions that start the results section are interesting to read, the important part of the results is in the cross-case analysis of themes – thus, I would recommend replacing the narrative descriptions of the three case study participants with a table that succinctly highlights salient features of each individual. While this does reduce the flavor it also would shave 7 or 8 pages off the length of the manuscript, which is probably a worthwhile trade-off due to journal page constraints.

The data tables are easy to read and add to the understanding of the study.

Table 4 – can the title of the table be brought more into parallel form with the titles of tables 2 and 3? Please also examine the fine print on the style for tables (APA Publication Manual); there are several anomalies in the presentation style of the tables that need correcting in a revision.

The assertions are supported with relevant quotations, and address the research question.

Discussion/Conclusions

The Discussion/Conclusions are supported by the data and draw interesting and informative connections between the current study and the relevant literature. The authors make suggestions for how lessons learned in this study in the informal science setting can be applied in the formal science classroom setting.

I wonder if there are any examples from classroom settings in this study that point to any awareness or application of a funds of knowledge perspective and how the three case study students responded? I also caution the author not to report new data in this section. I see no limitations explicitly stated (though there are many to acknowledge!), and no consideration of next step research.

Style and expression

The manuscript is well written, flows nicely and is an enjoyable read. However, the author needs to attend to a few APA style issues (tables, see above) and what should be in an abstract.

Publication Recommendation

As a result of my detailed review (strengths identified but also many major concerns), I recommend a publication decision of “Reject but encourage resubmission.” I would be willing to review a resubmission.


Reviewer Requirements

JRST welcomes colleagues in the field to join our list of expert reviewers. You may apply to serve as a regular reviewer for the Journal. Reviewers hold doctoral degrees in a field relevant to JRST and have published or are in the process of publishing in one or more major educational journals or conferences.

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