A goal of the JAP Editorial Board is to be highly developmental to authors as well as rigorous in their standards. Here are some general guidelines to ensure a high-quality review.
Structure of Review
Prioritize or organize your points. In addition to numbering your points, please prioritize or organize your points either (a) in terms of their importance for making a decision or (b) thematically (e.g., by manuscript section or by major issue). This helps the Action Editor better understand what you think is important.
Review length. Most reviewers do a great job covering the key issues in the manuscript. Yet, there is some variability amongst reviewers. Ideally, we would like to see a 1- to 2-page review with 5-10 major points.
Tone of Review
If possible, please provide at least a couple of specific, positive comments in your review. Typically, these would go at the beginning of your review but please do compliment authors where appropriate throughout the review.
Consistently treat authors as you appreciate being treated in reviews of your own work.
Striving for developmental reviews means providing collegial and constructive feedback to help authors improve their work. It is easy to recommend collecting more and/or better data. Please consider offering suggestions on how to use the current data or readily available additional data to improve the manuscript.
Be specific in your comments. Help authors to understand your major issues versus your minor concerns. Be sure the author understands what is essential versus what is suggested. When reviewing a revised manuscript, be sure to carefully examine authors' responses to your comments in the greater context of the Editor’s decision letter and other reviewer comments.
Research published in the journal should advance knowledge in our field; this includes theoretical/conceptual, empirical, methodological, and/or practical contributions.
The journal values both deductive and inductive approaches; please refrain from making suggestions that may contribute to harking or post-hoc theorizing such as suggesting the addition of new hypotheses or completely changing the theoretical framework post-hoc (note: mentioning post hoc theories in the discussion section to guide future research or interpret study findings is appropriate).
For empirical articles, please consider whether the authors have provided sufficient information on the scientific approach to evaluate its appropriateness for the research under study (e.g., sampling, measures, experimental materials, analyses). JAP has published a methods checklist that can be used as a guide. We also want to encourage the use of Appendices for measures and stimulus matierals, and on-line supplements for material such as programming code and supplementary analyses.
Be sure your comments to the author line up with your overall evaluation of the manuscript. For example, don't come across like you love the paper if you are recommending a rejection.
Please do not mention your overall publication recommendation in your comments to the author. For example, please avoid using statements such as a “fatal flaw” (see also point #4).
Communication with the AE
Include confidential comments to the Action Editor. When you submit your review through the Editorial Manager there is a section titled “Confidential Comments to the Associate Editor” where you can submit comments to the Action Editor that are not viewed by the authors. The Editorial Team finds these confidential comments to be very helpful when making decisions. Although many reviewers provide comments to the AE, not everyone does. Please try to let us know what you think about the manuscript, particularly if it is something that you do not feel comfortable sharing with the author.
Please complete your review within 4 weeks. Authors are anxious to learn of the outcome and we strive to complete decision letters within 60 days of receipt of the manuscript.
Credit Note: Some of the points above are borrowed from reviewer guidelines sent to the editorial board at Personnel Psychology (Frederick Morgeson) and Journal of Business and Psychology (Steven Rogelberg).