Community Review

Community Review Articles

Links to articles undergoing the Community Review process can be found here.


Description of Community Review

Many journal editors, including those at CFS, find that the peer review process is increasingly problematic. Fewer reviewers are available as more journals are created, and institutional administrative, teaching and supervisory pressures reduce time that can be devoted to essential professional activities such as peer review. The pool of available reviewers also shrinks as the proportion of academics in tenuous employment or under-funded, over-extended positions continues to grow. 

Some articles are particularly challenging because of time sensitivity, length, complexity, multiple authorship, analytical frameworks, and novelty. Such factors limit even further the potential pool of reviewers.

CFS proposes to build on the community-of-practice model, first discussed within Transition Streams, and create a new approach for certain submissions: Community Review. It is partly inspired by the work of earlier public intellectuals who would frequently release a “draft” version of their document and then revise later, once comments were received. While it is unclear how tenure and promotion committees in universities will view this process, what is clear is that—given the relatively small pool of potential food studies reviewers and the burgeoning pool of food studies articles in need of review—creative solutions to the peer review quandary are both essential and a driver of academic innovation. In an open access journal such as CFS/RCÉA, for which the audience spans academics and practitioners, a peer review process that facilitates constructive feedback from all engaged parties may break new ground for academic publications on policy and community relevance frontiers.

The process would work like this:

1. An article is submitted to the journal under the category of “Community Review”.  

2. It is assessed for the appropriateness of this type of review, as opposed to conventional peer review (see acceptance criteria in #8 below).

3. If the editors determine that community review is warranted, the submitted version (with any immediate editorial suggestions provided by the journal editors) is posted on the journal website as part of a published issue. This (pdf) version is effectively a draft manuscript, and has no DOI.

4. Readers are informed of this submission through the CAFS list. Those who are interested are encouraged to submit comments directly by clicking on the article and the “add a comment” link. They can give their comment a title and write in the box provided.

  • Comments can be on the entire document or just on sections of it. Comments can range from 50 to 1500 words.
  • Comments are posted on the website on the Community Review article page. They are not anonymous. Replies to those comments can also be posted.
  • The purpose of the comment is to provide critical (positive or negative) input and/or feedback that the authors can use in revising this and future work.  Feedback does not have to conform to the requirements of conventional peer review. In other words, reviewers are not expected to provide extensive guidance to authors on what needs revision. The hope is that reviewers will find it straightforward to provide comments and that the aggregated information from multiple reviewers (significantly more than traditional peer review) will improve the article.
  • In consultation with the editors, the author(s) will take the comments into account when preparing the final version. For substantial comments that have contributed significantly to the revised version, commenters will be acknowledged (with their permission).

5. After three months, the authors will revise the manuscript, based on comments received and with guidance from the journal editors. The editors review the article once more to be assured that feedback has been appropriately incorporated (much as should happen in traditional peer review).

6. The final copy-edited article is then published with a DOI in the next journal issue. A HEADER phrase such as “Completed article: This article was previously posted in the Community Review category as defined on the journal website. This final revision has taken into account the comments previously posted on the website.” will be stated on the front page of the article.  There may be an acknowledgment to thank the commenters.

7. Authors will be encouraged to cite the article under a “community review” segment of their CV, distinct from articles listed as peer reviewed.

8. Determining submissions for community review: The editors will recommend for community review articles with two or more of the following characteristics:

  1. The manuscript addresses issues that are currently being debated and for which interventions are imminent or underway.
  2. There are multiple authors and they are well-networked across food studies, such that finding reviewers with no conflicts of interest would represent a significant challenge.
  3. The manuscript by necessity sets out the issues in significant detail and complexity, resulting in a document that may exceed the normal CFS/RCÉA word limit for research articles.
  4. The article addresses topics that have received little attention and/or combines analytical frameworks in novel ways, potentially breaking new ground.
  5. The editors believe that the article has value for the food studies community, and is already sufficiently well written so that the emphasis of reviewers/commenters is on content rather than on structure or grammar.

NB: CFS/RCÉA will be retiring the Transition Stream section, as it is likely that manuscripts that would have been submitted to it will now participate in the Community Review process.