Any journal depends upon its reviewers to sustain its standards of quality, to enhance and improve articles by giving authors feedback for revision, and to help the editor maintain a broader and more balanced view of the field.
For Educational Theory, this means a rigorous process of selection that rejects roughly 80% of all submissions. But in our view the main function of reviewers is to provide critical and constructive input directed toward the improvement of scholarship — whether it eventually appears in this journal or is revised for submission elsewhere. This formative aspect of the review process is often underappreciated; virtually no articles are ever published in Educational Theory without significant revision and editing. The review process is not a passive process of ranking and selection, but an active, collaborative process of working with authors to help them find ways to frame their views and arguments more effectively.
The kinds of reviews that are most helpful provide the following:
(1) A global evaluation that is discerning and that doesn’t simply accept a paper because there’s nothing much wrong with it, but asks, Am I glad that I read this paper? Did I learn something from it? Will other people want to read it?
(2) A detailed assessment of the major arguments of the paper: where they are strong, where they are weak, and how they could be improved. Often reviewers can help authors strengthen their arguments by posing potential counterarguments, by suggesting alternative formulations of key positions, and/or by pointing out additional sources that the author might read and consider.