18 Peer Review

Peer review is a mandatory part of the UniSQ open publishing process, and you’ve probably engaged with similar processes when publishing research articles or monographs. As the author, you are required to arrange a peer review of your completed manuscript before publication.

Authors are responsible for identifying reviewers, coordinating the supply of the manuscript to reviewers, receipt of reviewers’ reports, and incorporation of feedback before publication.

During peer review, subject experts read through your open text and provide critical feedback and suggestions for improvement. Peer review ensures your content is accurate, adequately covers the material and is suitable for classroom use. Because open texts are low-cost and easy to produce, they are sometimes perceived as low-quality compared to commercial textbooks. Peer review allows you to dispel these notions by ensuring a high-quality product. Not only does peer review signal to potential adopters that your open text has passed through a rigorous quality control process, but reviewers often end up adopting texts they have reviewed themselves.

Designing a Peer Review Process

When designing your peer review process, you will need to consider:

  • who will coordinate peer review – the author or project manager
  • the goals for the peer review process – what exactly are you asking prospective reviewers to do? What criteria should they focus on as part of the review?
  • when you will conduct peer review – chapter-by-chapter, once all the content has been written and edited (pre-publication – most common) or post-publication (less common)
  • whether or not reviews will be anonymous
  • your criteria for selecting reviewers (e.g. expertise, cultural background, etc.)
  • how to recruit reviewers (e.g. personal invitations, expressions of interest, etc.)
  • whether to offer incentives to reviewers (e.g. an honorarium)
  • the review criteria (e.g. peer review rubric)
  • what tools to use for review (e.g. Word, Google Docs, Hypothesis, etc.)
  • the timeline for returning reviews.

You will need this information for your invitation or call for applications.

Conducting a Peer Review Process

Below is a summary of the steps involved in conducting a typical peer review process:

  • Prepare a review guide with:
    • project summary links to the open text or open text chapters
    • reviewer guidelines
    • questions to guide reviewers’ feedback
    • review deadlines
    • review tools
    • reviewer etiquette
    • compensation (if any)
    • ways reviewers will be credited.
  • Create a call for reviewers that includes:
    • project details
    • intended audience level
    • criteria for reviewers
    • instructions for expressing interest
    • encouragement for members of under-represented groups or from diverse backgrounds to participate.
  • Share the call via:
  • Write a peer review workflow so everyone involved understands the onboarding process for reviewers.
  • Keep an updated tracking sheet showing reviewers’ progress and when check-ins have been conducted.
  • Respond to peer review feedback.

Resource – Peer Review Template

Please use and adapt this Peer Review Template to send to your reviewers.

Tip: Use Hypothes.is for review

You might like to consider using a web annotation tool like Hypothes.is for the review process and comments. By exploring an authentic use case, you’ll have experience and inspiration for incorporating the tool into your learning and teaching practice. Hypothes.is can be used to promote deeper, and peer student learning, and engage students with the learning resources.

Responding to Peer Review Feedback

Once you have received your reviews, you will need to incorporate reviewers’ feedback into your open text. Peer review processes for open texts are usually less formal than for research books and journals. While it’s unlikely that you will be asked to write a formal response to reviewers, you will still need to make decisions about which suggestions to take and leave. Creating a table documenting reviewers’ comments and your response (similar to what you would use when resubmitting to a journal) can help you and your publishing team keep track of any changes you need to make.

We also recommend asking your peer reviewer to write a foreword. Here is an example of a foreword from our open text Trauma Informed Behaviour Support.

After Peer Review

Once revisions are complete you can conclude your peer review process by:

  • communicating with reviewers about the project before and after publication, including when changes are being incorporated, during release and as the book is adopted. (Reviewers often become adopters and will likely be able to help promote your open text through their networks.)
  • including a review statement in your open text to signal quality and show appreciation for reviewers
  • acknowledging the work of your peer reviewers by adding them as contributors in your front matter.
  • if you are printing your open text, consider sending physical copies to reviewers
  • sending reviewers a thank you card or personal email
  • offering to return the favour by reviewing your reviewers’ work.

Writing a Review Statement

Review statements are a great way to let potential adopters know your open text has undergone peer review and is a high-quality resource. It’s also an opportunity to credit your reviewers.

Before you publish your open text, you can add a review statement to the back matter describing your peer review process.

For example:

[Book title] was published by [organisation][Organisation] open texts undergo peer review from [summarise peer review process, e.g. peer review from school/faculty subject experts and beta testing in classrooms].

This book has been peer-reviewed by [number of] subject experts from [number of] higher education institutions. [Each chapter/the full text/etc.] received a [single-blind/double-blind/open] review from [number of] reviewers, based on their area of expertise. The reviewers were largely [academics/professionals/institutional staff] with required specialist knowledge in [specify concepts, topics or fields in your discipline].

Reviews were structured around considerations of the intended audience of the open text and examined the [criteria in review rubric, e.g. comprehensiveness, accuracy and relevance] of content. Reviews were also focused on [additional review criteria, e.g. longevity, clarity, consistency, organisation, grammatical errors, cultural relevance]. See the review guide [link to the review guide used for your project] for more details. Changes suggested by the reviewers covered mainly [specify areas here] and were incorporated by [describe how changes were made].

[List names of author(s), project manager(s), review coordinator(s)] and the team at [organisation] would like to thank the review team for the time, care and commitment they contributed to the project. We recognise that peer reviewing is a generous act of service on their part. This open text would not be the robust, valuable resource that it is were it not for their feedback and input.

Reviewers included:

  • [list reviewers and affiliated institutions].

You can also list feedback from your reviewers in the book. Our open text Hearts and Minds: Mental Health Support in Schools has a dedicated page with the reviewer’s comments.

Chapter Attribution

This chapter has been adapted in part from:


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Open Publishing Guide for Authors Copyright © 2023 by University of Southern Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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