This page provides an overview of the peer review process.  For detailed criteria on peer review for authors and reviewers, please click here.

A peer review is an uncompensated, professional response to a submission, provided to its author, artist, or designer by recognized specialists. These evaluations help an editor to determine whether or not a submission meets publication standards and aligns with the journal’s mission, and, if it does, provides the submitter with recommendations to strengthen it for publication. As a journal committed to engaged and cross-sectoral forms of scholarship and practice, Public embraces a review processes that cuts across institutional and professional borders by including evaluations from people who come to their expertise through different experiences, including but not limited to formal education.

This type of peer review is essential because it engages experts and practitioners inside and outside of higher ed. The peer review process and standards of this journal will be appropriate to the context both of higher education, so that the journal may serve as an academically validated publication, and that of informed non-academic readers.

The peer review process begins with the editor, who makes decisions about each issue with a subset of editorial board members with a particular expertise in that topic.  Submissions are first reviewed vis-à-vis the journal’s mission, the particulars of a given issue, and the amount of work the piece would require to bring to a publishable state. If the submission meets these criteria, it will be passed to two peer reviewers capable of evaluating it in a competent, informed, objective, and unbiased manner.

The journal will engage a range of peer reviewers, from both inside and outside academia, and from the most senior people to emerging thinkers and practitioners. They will be selected for their knowledge of the subject matter and its context, and their capacity to think critically, so as to capably assess the value of a given submission for this journal. The two reviewers, between them, will be well acquainted with both the academy and the public sphere.  Our editorial board members will serve as peer reviewers along with additional reviewers from among our colleagues within and beyond higher education. We will also call upon Imagining America members and partner institutions to enlarge the reviewer pool.

We will strive to conform to a double-blind peer review process, e.g., neither the submitters’ nor the reviewers’ identities will be disclosed without mutual agreement. We recognize that this goal is not always possible given that many people knowledgeable about publicly engaged arts, humanities, or design know each other, and a submitter’s identity cannot always be masked. It is the responsibility of the editor and the board to monitor and avoid conflict of interest. If a reviewer feels that their decision will be affected by their relationship to the submitter, the reviewer must decline the assignment and let the editor know about possible conflict of interest. We also ask reviewers to decline a request to review if they do not feel qualified, once perusing the submission.

Review Criteria

Significance to the field: The submission contributes to the public discourse regarding the role of arts, humanities, or design in public life, adding something significant intellectually, aesthetically,  and/or practically. The research, argument, or examples deepen, enrich, or contest current thinking and practices of community engagement. The submission is of some interdisciplinary value for the reader.

Accessibility: The language of the text is accessible to multiple publics regardless of a reader’s disciplinary training.

Quality: Submissions in artistic media use the form well as regards elements such as color, form, structure, etc. Text-based works are presented in a clear and engaging style.

Argumentative soundness: The submission uses appropriate methods with respect to the goals, questions, and context of the work.