Editorial: Peer Review and the Practitioner Journal

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Hermann, R. S. & Miranda, R. J. (2017). Editorial: Peer review and the practitioner journal. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 2(2). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/peer-review-and-the-practitioner-journal/

by Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University; & Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University

The peer review process is often viewed as a hallmark of many academic disciplines. However, the history of peer review may be shorter than once thought with the idea that referees should be responsible for the quality of literature not emerging until the 20th century (Baldwin, 2017; Smith, 2006). Despite the wide-spread use of peer review in the current era of academic publishing, the peer review process remains the subject of frequent conversation and is by no means widely considered to be devoid of flaws (Baldwin, 2017). One reason for the ongoing conversation about peer review is the possibility of reviewers altering the work of authors, or so-called “Design by Committee” (Ziman, 1980). Manuscripts are often accepted under the condition that authors satisfactorily address the concerns raised by anonymous reviewers. Thus, the revisions are highly susceptible to coercion to conform to the preferences of the reviewers (Bradley, 1982). Inevitably, the name of the author(s) is present on the published article regardless of the significant changes resulting from reviewer comments. Although the article may have undergone major revisions at the request of reviewers, the author(s) are responsible for what is, and is not, included in the published article and reviewers remain anonymous despite the often large role they play in bringing a manuscript to publication. Indeed, the work of peer reviewers often does not count toward tenure and promotion in meaningful ways which may result in little incentive to write careful, detailed reports (Baldwin, 2017). While much has been written on this topic, much of that literature relates to peer review as it applies to research funding and publication of research reports. Practitioner journals also rely on peer review, although in somewhat unique ways.

While the peer review process may differ for conferences, publications, and grants, across publication types, the process may vary as well. Practitioner journals are the place where practitioners can share what they do with other practitioners. Innovations in Science Teacher Education is a place for science educators to share a description of their work preparing preservice science teachers and providing professional development for inservice science teachers. Both research and practitioner manuscripts are likely initially screened by editors to determine if the manuscript is suitable for the specified mission of the journal and adheres to stylistic guidelines. Manuscripts that address the mission of the journal and adhere to submission guidelines are sent out for double blinded peer review.

In considering the extent to which peer review works, Smith (2006) posited that it depends on what the peer review is for that determines whether it works. While there are some similarities between the review process for research and practitioner manuscripts, the hallmark of practitioner articles is that they provide information on the practice of preparing others to perform a specified task. In regard to Innovations, the peer review process works if the information in the articles is of interest to readers such that they can replicate all, or parts of, the described science teacher preparation activities or programs in their unique context. Thus, the reviewer of practitioner articles has two main criteria in addition to several minor additional criteria. The first major criteria is to evaluate the extent to which the manuscript is of broad interest to other practitioners. Simply put, for Innovations a central question is the extent to which the manuscript offers a unique or novel approach to preparing science teachers. The second criteria is the extent to which the manuscript contains specific details that will enable practitioners to replicate the work of the author(s). Once the manuscript is deemed to be innovative and of broad interest to science educators, the work of the reviewer centers on helping the author(s) more clearly communicate their practice to others. Reviewers evaluate the manuscript without having been present during the reported activities and are well situated to contemplate what information is required to ensure journal readers receive all the information needed to envision replicating the work in their own unique contexts.

The work that is reported in manuscripts is described as it was conducted by the author(s). Reviewers may have ideas for how to change that work, but the fact remains that the authors are reporting what they did, not what they hope to do in the future. Thus, reviewers should not ask authors to change what they did unless the work is deemed to not be innovative, and, therefore, not publishable in the current form. Reviewers may then provide insight into ways to modify instruction to make it more innovative or effective and authors would need to implement that work in their setting prior to rewriting the manuscript.

While authors are not required to revise each instance of reviewer feedback, doing so in order to provide readers with more detailed information is at the heart of the peer review process for practitioner journals. Those comments and suggestions that go beyond the scope of improving readability may not be addressed by authors who instead may choose to explain to editors why the comment or suggestion is not addressed. It should come as little surprise that authors who revise and resubmit manuscripts ultimately develop manuscripts that provide more insightful details and ultimately are accepted for publication. This is an iterative process, though, and any manuscript may be subject to multiple rounds of peer review. Knowing that the purpose of this process is to improve the manuscript and provide a published article that is more meaningful to readers should provide a powerful incentive for authors and reviewers to strive to work together to develop an article that authors and reviewers can be proud of and readers can utilize in their own practice.


Baldwin, M. (2017). In referees we trust? Physics Today, 70(2), 44-46.

Bradley, J. V. (1982). Editorial overkill. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 19(5), 271-274.

Smith, R. (2006). Peer review: A flawed process at the heart of science and journals. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 99(4), 178-182.

Ziman, J. (1980). What is science? In E. D. Klemke, R. Hollinger & A. D. Kline (Eds.), Introductory readings in the philosophy of science. Buffalo, New York; Prometheus Books.

Editorial: Completely Blinding an Online Innovations Manuscript Submission

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Miranda, R.J., & Hermann, R.S. (2017). Editorial: Completely blinding an online innovations manuscript submission. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 2(1). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/completely-blinding-an-online-innovations-manuscript-submission/

by Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University; & Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University

As inaugural editors of the Innovations in Science Teacher Education journal, the most frequent occurring issue we see regarding online manuscript submissions is incomplete manuscript blinding. Consequently, this slows down the peer-review process since the manuscript must be returned to the primary author for revision before it can be sent to reviewers. Additionally, we commonly receive documents with tracked changes. Track changes can be helpful in the review process by providing authors with direct comments, suggestions, and edits. Likewise, authors can track the revisions made in response to reviewer feedback. However, the track changes feature often reveals the identity of both authors and reviewers, which must also be omitted. Thus, to help inform potential authors and reviewers, we provide the following guidelines to ensure that a manuscript is completely blinded and ready for anonymous review:

Grant-funded Programs

The manuscript should not include references to grant-funding sources. Additionally, the manuscript should not include the title (or acronym) of a grant-funded program or the grant number.

Institutional Names

The manuscript should not include the institutional name of the author(s).

Title Page, Running Headers, Footnotes, Figures and Tables

The manuscript should not include any title page, running headers, footnotes, figures, or tables that contain author identifying information.


The manuscript should not include any acknowledgements. Acknowledgements can be added to the manuscript after it is formally accepted for publication in the journal.


If you refer to your work, or the work of your co-authors within the text of the manuscript, please replace all author identifying information with: (Author citation, Year). For entry of your work in a references list, all bibliographic information (e.g. title, journal name, proceedings, volume, pages, location, publishers, etc.) must be omitted and replaced with only the words “Author Citation” followed by the date of the publication. Please note that the author citation in the references list should be in alphabetical order under author, and not where the first author’s last name would appear alphabetically. Here are some examples:

Citation in Text: (Author citation, 2016)

Citation in References List: Author citation. 2016.

Revisions with Tracked Changes

If you are submitting a manuscript revision with tracked changes online, please be sure to completely blind your edits and comments. The following link from Microsoft provides step-by-step directions for blinding your Word document using the track changes feature: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Change-the-author-name-for-review-comments-cdd4b8ac-fbca-438d-a5b5-a99fb1c750e3

Removing Hidden Data and Personal Information by Inspecting Documents

Because hidden information can reveal author or reviewer identifying information, please be sure to completely remove all hidden data and personal information in your Word documents before you submit your manuscript online by using the following steps:

Word 2007

Click the Microsoft Office Button. Point to Prepare, and then click “Inspect Document.” Make sure that “Document Properties and Personal Information” is checked. Click the “Inspect” button. Click the “Remove All” button. Close. Save the document.

Word 2010

File/Info/Check for Issues/Inspect Document. Click the “Inspect Document” button. To the right of “Document Properties and Personal Information” click the “Remove All” button. Close. Save the document.

Word 2013/2016

File/Info/Inspect Document. Click the “Inspect Document” button. Make sure that “Document Properties and Personal Information” is checked. Click the “Inspect” button. Click the “Remove All” button to the right of “Document Properties and Personal Information.” Close. Save the document.

Additionally, the following support document from Microsoft helps to ensure author and reviewer anonymity when submitting a new or revised online manuscript by describing how the “Document Inspector” feature in Word can help you find and remove hidden data and personal information in your document: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Remove-hidden-data-and-personal-information-by-inspecting-documents-356b7b5d-77af-44fe-a07f-9aa4d085966f#__toc312143397

To ensure the anonymity of authors and reviewers, manuscripts and reviews of manuscripts should be fully blinded. By doing so, both parties can engage in an open and honest dialogue aimed at producing an engaging and informative article for Innovations readers. Double blind reviews are a powerful way to reduce bias in publications and protect the integrity of the literature (Vaux, 2011). Gender, familiarity and country of origin have been shown to affect reviewer behavior (Link, 1998; Wenneras & Wold, 1997). For these reasons the greater scientific community largely favors double blinded review (Mainguy, Motamedi & Mietchen, 2005; Regehr & Bordage, 2006; Stenrud & Brooks, 2005). Double blind reviews have also been shown to increase the representation of first-authored papers by females (Budden, Tregenza, Aarssen, Koricheva, Leimu, & Lortie, 2008). Though blinding a manuscript and the reviews of that manuscript require additional time and create logistical issues for editors, we believe the benefits far outweigh the costs. Please help us to facilitate the efficient review of manuscripts by fully and completely blinding manuscripts and reviews.


Budden, A.E., Tregenza, T., Aarssen, L.W., Koricheva, J., Leimu, R., & Lortie, C.J. (2008). Double-blind review favours increased representation of female authors. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 23, 4-6.

Change the author name for review comments. Retrieved from https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Change-the-author-name-for-review-comments-cdd4b8ac-fbca-438d-a5b5-a99fb1c750e3

Link, A.M. (1998). US and non-US submissions – an analysis of reviewer bias. JAMA, 280, 246-247.

Mainguy, G., Motamedi, M.R., & Mietchen, D. (2005). Peer review – the newcomers’ perspective. PLoS Biology, 3, 1534-1535.

Regehr, G., & Bordage, G. (2006). To blind or not to blind? What authors and reviewers prefer. Medical Education, 40, 832-839.

Remove hidden data and personal information by inspecting documents. Retrieved from https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Remove-hidden-data-and-personal-information-by-inspecting-documents-356b7b5d-77af-44fe-a07f-9aa4d085966f?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

Stensrud, D.J., & Brooks, H.E. (2005). The future of peer review? Weather and Forecasting, 20, 825-826.

Vaux, D.L. (2011). Double blind review. Learned Publishing, 24(3). Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1087/20110303/epdf

Wenneras, C., & Wold, A. (1997). Nepotism and sexism in peer-review. Nature, 387, 341-343.

Editorial: On the Importance of Practitioner Journals

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Hermann, R. S. & Miranda, R. J. (2016). Editorial: On the importance of practitioner journals. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 1(2). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/editorial-on-the-importance-of-practitioner-journals/

by Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University; & Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University

Innovations in Science Teacher Education is the practitioner journal of the Association for Science Teacher Education. Practitioner journals are often misunderstood, and at times, undervalued. Take our university for example. We are science educators in the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences within the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics. Our college contains mathematicians, computer scientists, scientists, and science and mathematics educators. As such, we have a department chair who is a physicist and a dean who is a geologist. The science educators in the college have often needed to explain the work of science educators to our colleagues and administrators, especially as related to promotion and tenure discussions. In our college’s past, practitioner journals were misunderstood as a place for manuscripts that were not selected for publication in prestigious research journals like the Journal of Science Teacher Education. Practitioner articles were also perceived by some faculty in our college as being extremely easy to write because they were shorter in length compared to research manuscripts, and printed on glossy paper.

We are glad to say that our department and college now have a much better understanding of what a practitioner journal is and why it is important to our field. Science educators prepare the next generation of science teachers and there is great value in sharing our practice with other science educators. One of the hallmarks of teaching is discussing great ideas with peers to implement with your own students. Practitioner journals provide an outlet for sharing ideas about preparing science teachers within the peer-review process to help ensure the ideas are innovative, engaging, and of broad interest to science educators.

At an institution like ours, an institution that is not research intensive, but values teaching (65%), research (25%), and service (10%), teaching is the majority of our workload. As such, it makes sense that we teach well. We are practitioners. That is to say, we practice what we teach others to do. So, it is critically important that we have an outlet to share how we teach, design lessons and programs, implement professional development programs, and assess our progress as science educators. Practitioner journals provide a place to do so.

But what about research intensive universities? Even among science educators at universities with the highest research activity, the preparation of science teachers is arguably as important as developing and reporting on grant-funded research programs. Moreover, many grant-funded programs focus on preparing science teachers in innovative ways. The results of this type of work are not only applicable to research journals, but the details of the program are important to other practitioners. The Innovations journal is a place to report the details of the program: what was done, why it was done, how well it worked, and what lessons you learned along the way. Thus, Innovations serves as another way to disseminate information about grant-funded projects. Practitioner journals like Innovations serve a unique niche in helping other science educators reflect upon their work with preservice and inservice science teachers and incorporate innovative practices in their curriculum or professional development programming.

While there is no disputing the important role research plays in the work of science educators, the work science educators do in and out of the classroom to prepare preservice and inservice science teachers is equally important. Unfortunately, we have heard stories from our colleagues at other institutions where the work of preparing science teachers seems undervalued due to the view that publishing in practitioner journals is not something that “counts” for promotion and tenure decisions. Given the often central role of our positions in developing science teachers it seems that one would be derelict in their duties not to try to enhance their instruction by learning more about innovative teaching strategies or sharing their own innovative teaching strategies.

A search for the terms “practitioner journals” indicates a nonexistent literature base on just what a practitioner journal is or why they are important. However, such a search yields numerous examples of practitioner journals across many fields of study. Many fields have found it advantageous to foster collegial discussions of their practice and a way to provide ongoing professional development. Science educators are no different. Prior to Innovations, science educators had journals that served as outlets for sharing their practice in K-12 classrooms, and some content specific journals for sharing their work preparing science teachers in a narrow field. Innovations is a practitioner journal that welcomes innovative ideas for preparing preservice and inservice science teachers for any grade band or science content field. We hope all science educators find value in sharing their innovative ideas in this practitioner journal and that your work as a practitioner is valued by your institutional colleagues. After all, the teaching which we continue to practice is what drew many of us to academia in the first place.

Editorial: What is Innovation?

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Miranda, R.J., & Hermann, R.S. (July 1, 2016). Editorial: What is innovation? Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 1(1). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/editorial-what-is-innovation/

by Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University; & Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University

The mission of the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE) is to promote excellence in science teacher education world-wide through scholarship and innovation. This mission is especially crucial during a time when there is much attention focused on science education reform, improving science teacher quality, and science teacher accountability. Accordingly, science educators around the globe are called upon to respond to these challenges through innovative and cutting-edge efforts. The ASTE is poised to address these challenges through the creation of its official practitioner journal, Innovation in Science Teacher Education (Innovations). The Innovations journal provides the ASTE’s internationally renowned membership with a key outlet to share their innovative efforts regarding the preparation of preservice and inservice science teachers.

As the inaugural editors of the Innovations journal, the most frequent query that we receive from authors is whether or not we think that their idea is a good fit for the journal. To help inform and to provide our readership with a response to this important question, we would first like to share a few comments that we have received from our amazing editorial review board members regarding manuscripts that they have reviewed:

“Yes, I would love to see this article published – it is exactly the sort of article that reflects the goals of Innovations in Science Teacher Education. I know I already got ideas for modifying my similar course out of reading it, and I am sure others will too! I especially appreciated how many details were provided and the thinking/planning behind implementing this pedagogical change” (Reviewer).

“This is a good write-up of an excellent activity with important implications for teachers and teacher educators” (Reviewer).

“I liked reading about the activities and will most likely include them (or some) in my instruction. I think that other science educators will also find this interesting” (Reviewer).

We believe that the litmus test for whether something is innovative is that if you share your idea (e.g. lesson; course redesign; common theme for a course; teacher education program redesign; professional development settings; or a collaborative effort with other departments involved in science teacher education) with a colleague, and they provide you with comments such as those mentioned by our reviewers, your idea is likely innovative. Accordingly, we encourage you to share your passion and your exceptional work via the Innovations journal. It is also evident from the reviewers’ comments that the transferability of the innovative work to other settings is often an important aspect of the manuscript. Innovations readers will look to the journal to inform their practice and contemplate new and innovative ways of engaging the preservice and/or inservice science teachers with whom they work. As such, the extent to which the ideas shared are applicable in other contexts and settings is an important factor Innovations reviewers are keenly aware of as they review manuscripts. The articles found in this inaugural issue meet this litmus test. According to the authors, they were able to determine that their work was innovative by discussing their ideas with colleagues at the ASTE International Conference and being mindful of how their ideas were received by their peers.


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines innovation as a new idea or method, or the act or process of introducing new ideas or methods (innovation, n.d.). Although we believe that innovation can refer to this definition, we also believe that innovation can simply be a change made to an existing idea, but with a fresh new lens or perspective. Since science teacher education is constantly changing, we are continuously in need of fresh new perspectives. Thus, we encourage science teacher educators, scientists, science coordinators and supervisors, and informal science educators who prepare and provide professional development for teachers of science at all grade levels to share their innovative ideas with our international science education community through the Innovations journal.

Innovations is the official peer-reviewed online practitioner journal of the ASTE that serves as a forum for disseminating effective instructional practices that are innovative and inspirational. This notion is in accord with Akpan (2010) who suggests that innovation draws attention to the important role of science teacher education associations, whereby its members not only have the insights, but also the interest in helping science teacher colleagues. Akpan (2010) further emphasizes that the key role of such professional bodies in developing science teacher educators, and the sharing of experiences at a collaborative level is essential to developing a more productive, innovative, and enthusiastic science teaching force. Thus, the articles published in Innovations are truly written by science teacher educators for science teacher educators, in the broadest sense of the word.

Over the summer, take some time to reflect back on the innovative aspects of your lessons, classes, collaborations, and programs. Do you have an innovative idea to share with your colleagues? Will you be providing professional development for science teachers this summer? Consider sharing your ideas and lessons learned with colleagues by submitting a manuscript describing your outstanding work with preservice and inservice science teachers!

Also, be sure to check out our website to learn more about publishing in Innovations in Science Teacher Education by using the following link: https://innovations.theaste.org. Please be sure to review the instructions for authors section prior to submitting to ensure that your manuscript adheres to format guidelines and addresses each criterion. We look forward to receiving your manuscripts and want to thank everyone who is, and will be, participating in the submission and review of manuscripts. We hope that you enjoy the inaugural issue of the Innovations journal!

If you have any questions regarding the Innovations journal, please contact Rommel Miranda (Rmiranda@towson.edu) or Ron Hermann (Rhermann@towson.edu).



Akpan, B.B. (2010). Innovation in science and technology education through science teacher associations. Science Education International, 21(2), 67-79.

innovation. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Retrieved on June 15, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/innovation