Authors' perceptions of peer review of conference papers and how they characterise a 'good' one

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Conference Proceeding
SEFI Annual Conference 2014, 2014
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This paper examines the individual's experience of the peer review process to explore implications for the wider engineering education research community. A thematic analysis of interview transcripts showed that providing feedback to authors in reviews was mentioned equally as frequently as the role of quality assurance of the conference papers. We used responses from participants from various levels of expertise and types of universities to identify what were for them the elements of a quality conference paper and a quality review. For a conference paper these included that it should be relevant, situate itself relative to existing literature, state the purpose of the research, describe sound methodology used with a logically developed argument, have conclusions supported by evidence and use language of a professional standard. A quality review should start on a positive note, suggest additional literature, critique the methodology and written expression and unambiguously explain what the reviewer means. The lists of characteristics of a good paper and a good review share elements such as attention to relevant literature and methodology. There is also substantial overlap between how our participants characterise quality papers and reviews and the review criteria used for the AAEE conference, and for such publication outlets as the European Journal for Engineering Education (EJEE) and the Journal of Engineering Education (JEE). This suggests some level of agreement in the community about the elements that indicate quality. However, we need to continue discussions about what we mean by 'sound' methodology and 'good' evidence as well as establishing some shared language and understanding of the standards required in regard to the review criteria. The results of this study represent the first steps in improving our shared understandings of what constitutes quality research in engineering education for our community, and how we might better convey that in offering constructive advice to authors when writing a review of a conference paper. Since the peer review process has implications for the development of individual researchers in the field and hence for the field overall, it seems reasonable to ask reviewers to pay attention to how they write reviews so that they create the potential for engineering academics to successfully transition into this different research paradigm.
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