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Ethical Practices in the Review Process

The Opera Journal is proud to publish articles by authors from a variety of backgrounds, and we consistently strive to produce work of the highest quality. To this end, all articles submitted to the Journal go through a double-blind peer review process. This is the golden standard for academic publication, and it ensures a review that is as objective as possible.

What is a Double-Blind Peer Review?

Peer review involves sending a submitted article to individuals qualified for fairly, accurately, and honestly judge the work; these individuals are asked to provide feedback on the article and its suitability for publication. Involving a network of experts is vital to the publication process: since no single publisher (or reviewer) can be an expert in all topics that a journal might cover, the network of peer reviewers ensures that a journal can find and publish excellent work in a wide variety of fields and subfields. 

The peer review process thus involves two main roles: the author and the reviewer. A double-blind peer review means that neither the author nor the reviewer(s) know the other person’s identity. At no point will the reviewer(s) be given the author’s name (or other identifying information), and at no point will the author be given the name (or other identifying information) of the reviewer(s).

The name “peer review” is important, since it implies that both the author and the reviewer agree to treat each other as equals, taking their work and opinions seriously; providing honest, constructive feedback; and incorporating suggested changes to the best of one’s ability.

Every article submitted to The Opera Journal must go through the double-blind peer review process (with the exclusive exception of winners of the NOA Scholarly Papers Competition, as outlined in the Competition Guidelines). All accepted submissions then proceed through the editorial process.

What Happens During the Review Process for The Opera Journal?

Here is what the process looks like:

  1. You submit your manuscript via the Submission Guidelines on The Opera Journal page on the National Opera Association website.
  2. Shortly after the submission deadline, the anonymized copy of your manuscript is distributed to select members of the Editorial Board (which currently serves as the Journal’s peer reviewers) at the discretion the Executive Editors to ensure that the work can be evaluated work honestly, impartially, and competently.
  3. Peer reviewers read your article, complete a peer-review rubric, and submit their feedback to the Executive Editors.
  4. In consultation with the Editorial Board, the Executive Editors identify submissions as “accepted,” “not accepted,” or “revise and resubmit.”
    1. If your submission is accepted, you will be contacted by the Executive Editors, who will then work closely with you to shepherd your article through the next stages; you will likely still be asked to make revisions. Please note that you must incorporate your reviewer comments before we can publish your article.
    2. If your submission is returned “revise and resubmit,” you will be contacted by the Journal Administrator; we invite you to incorporate your reviewer’s comments and return to us. The article will then go through another round of double-blind peer review.
    3. If your submission is not accepted, you will be contacted by the Journal Administrator; we cannot publish your article at this time.

 

What Does This Process Require of the Author, Reviewers, and Publisher?

In order to ensure the best possible peer-review process, authors, reviewers, and publishers must all agree to a set of ethical and behavioral standards, including (but not limited to) those listed here.

As an author, I agree to …

  • Follow all submission guidelines, available here
  • Submit only original work
  • Submit only work that has not been published elsewhere (including self-published work)
  • Accept the Editorial Board’s decision
  • If my submission is accepted:
    • Make a good-faith effort to incorporate the reviewer comments
    • Adhere to the timeline established in my acceptance letter

Please note: The Opera Journal and the National Opera Association expect the highest ethical standards from our authors. Please take some time to review the American Musicological Society’s “Guidelines for Ethical Conduct,” with a special focus on Sections I.D and II.A.

As a reviewer, I agree to …

  • Submit written feedback in the timeframe agreed upon
  • Identify both strengths and weaknesses of submitted work, and provide a written review and completed evaluation rubric to the Executive Editors
  • Offer feedback that is constructive and actionable
  • Offer my honest opinion on whether an article should be published, returned for “revise and resubmit,” or should not be published
  • Disclose potential conflicts of interest
  • Treat all written work and feedback as strictly confidential

Please note: The Opera Journal and the National Opera Association expect the highest ethical standards from our reviewers. Please take some time to review the American Musicological Society’s “Guidelines for Ethical Conduct,” with a special focus on Section II.C.

As a publisher, I agree to …

  • Maintain the confidentiality of the double-blind peer review process
  • Find reviewers that I believe can provide objective expert feedback
  • Guide reviewers in providing feedback that is constructive and actionable

Please note: The Opera Journal and the National Opera Association expect the highest ethical standards from our Executive Editors. Please take some time to review the American Musicological Society’s “Guidelines for Ethical Conduct,” with a special focus on Section II.B.

 

Joint Statement on Ethics in Reviews

The following was developed in collaboration with Editors from leading music journals as pertaining to reviews and reviewers in particular:

As journal editors in music studies, we seek to foster constructive and civil dialogue that advances our field and that is beneficial for authors, reviewers, and readers. While scholars will invariably have intellectual disagreements, we believe that journals must hold a high standard for productive, respectful exchange. We will strive to ensure that reviewers for our journals:

  • Disclose any conflict of interest before accepting the commission.
  • Maintain the highest standards of scholarly integrity and collegiality by refraining from ad hominem comments or attacks, whether expressed directly or obliquely.
  • Represent the reviewed material accurately and fairly, including in cases in which the reviewer reveals errors in the work under review or disagrees with its argumentation.
  • Refrain from language that could be construed as unprofessional, including remarks of a prejudiced, sarcastic, or gendered nature.
  • Engage constructively with the work under review. We rely on the assistance of experts to offer balanced and learned opinions on recent scholarship, while maintaining the highest level of civility in any criticisms. Reviews should seek to advance the field—not to pursue a personal agenda.
    Acceptance of any review, from anonymous peer reviews to published reviews of books and other work, is contingent on approval by the editor(s) of our journals. The editorial team reserves the right to return reviews that do not follow these guidelines to the reviewer for revision or to reject the review outright.