Peer Review Commitments and Guidelines
Amherst College Press is committed to the highest standards of peer review in evaluating the work it considers for publication and to communicating the nature of review to readers in a transparent fashion. As a process of independent and informed evaluation of both argument and originality of scholarly work, peer review is the principal means by which ACP assures the quality and merit of the work it publishes. For each title under consideration, our peer review process addresses three specific questions:
I. What is the object to be reviewed?
The first step in a peer review process is a clear decision regarding what the appropriate object is for substantive review, i.e., a full proposal or a full manuscript. Academic publishers have taken a variety of approaches to this question for practical reasons. For example, many projects are developed by editors from an initial concept and these require that the review is conducted at the proposal stage. Digital projects that involve complex interdependencies between text and multimedia are not like traditional manuscripts in that there is not a fixed object to review in quite the same way as there was in an analog age. Because Amherst College Press is oriented toward digital scholarship and commissioned products, we welcome, and will consider, substantive proposals as well as manuscripts.
Unless an alternative review process is deemed more appropriate, all works chosen for consideration receive partly-closed peer review by two outside readers as well as evaluation by the Editorial Board. The Editorial Board oversees the acquisitions process at various stages, including at the time of proposal, after peer review, and upon receipt of the completed work.
II. What is the appropriate form of review?
Like all university presses, Amherst College Press undertakes peer review in a variety of ways, depending upon the circumstances of disciplinary practice, the particular form of scholarly work, and the approach that author(s) wish to pursue concerning the nature of their work. Amherst College Press makes clear to scholars and readers that a rigorous and appropriate form of peer review has been employed, and indicates the form of review utilized on the copyright page of each work:
Partly-Closed Review. Reviewers may be informed of the author’s identity, but the author is not informed of the identity of the reviewers. Publication occurs after the author’s revisions in response to reviewers’ comments satisfy the editors and the Editorial Board.
Fully-Closed Review. The identity of the author is not disclosed to the reviewers, and the identity of the reviewers is not disclosed to the author. Publication is contingent on the author responding to the critiques and commentary offered by reviewers to the satisfaction of the editors and the Editorial Board.
Peer-to-Peer Review. The identities of both author and reviewers are disclosed each to the other. The process may result in more substantial exchanges and revisions to the work. Such a review process may eventuate from a process that began as Fully- or Partly-Closed; in other cases it may be employed for interdisciplinary work in which authors collaborate and review each other’s contributions. Choosing to employ such a review process is always done with the advance approval of the Editorial Board.
Open Review. The work has been made publicly available through some accessible platform, and comment has been invited from a community of scholars. Various platforms (such as CommentPress or hypothes.is) may be utilized for organizing and curating the comment process; and each case may stipulate the terms by which reviewers may contribute to the work (e.g., anonymous, with names, with names and institutional affiliation). The selection of platforms and processes is undertaken on a case-by-case basis, and is shaped by those considerations that will best serve the work. When Amherst College Press works utilizing Open Review processes it will normally employ an additional form of peer review.
III. How is the type of review signaled?
[t]he system of scholarly publication must continue to include processes for evaluating the quality of scholarly work and every publication should provide the reader with information about evaluation the work has undergone.
Amherst College Press is committed to providing readers with specific information about the nature of the peer review process for each of its published works. To that end, we specify the type of review used in the front matter of each of our publications—both online and in print—to signal in a clear, consistent way how each project has been reviewed.
You can find our current reader report forms below. We undertook an iterative, collaborative process to create these forms, working with Amherst College Press interns to review, analyze, and synthesize current reader report forms from other university presses. We also sought to to engage in and incorporate anti-racist practices as articulated in this Anti-Racist Scholarly Reviewing Practices.