Australasian Journal of Philosophy

Referees' instructions


We ask that, unless special arrangements have been explicitly made, referees' reports be supplied within one month of accepting the task.


ScholarOne Manuscripts allows direct typing of reports into the site, but, as with all typing directly into text boxes, there is a risk of loss of work. Referees may prefer to paste their text, or lodge their reports as (or supplement them with) word-processed documents. If they do so, they should take notice of the limitations on file formats described on the Submissions page. We prefer not to receive reports in PDF format. Reports must be anonymous.

Referees are warned that, if they have their browser set to block pop-ups, they should make the ScholarOne site an exception. Otherwise important messages may be missed, and report submissions may fail without the editorial staff being aware of the failure.


A referee is asked to indicate clearly whether acceptance, conditional acceptance, minor revision, major revision, or rejection is recommended. If either kind of revision is the recommendation, indication should be provided of willingness (or lack of it) to read a revised version of the paper; in the former case, a copy of the original manuscript may be retained for convenience. (A verdict of 'major revision' is strongly discouraged when the paper has already been resubmitted; resubmitted papers are identifiable by an 'R' suffix to their login number.) In the case of a paper longer than 8,000 words of main text including bibliography (or a Discussion Note longer than 2,000), referees should bear in mind the editorial policy that the acceptance bar rises with increasing length; roughly speaking, a 16,000-word article would have to be good enough to out-compete not just one but two good papers of 8,000 words each, and suggestions about how a paper could profitably be shortened are always very useful. It greatly assists the Editor in coming to a decision if referees provide sufficient commentary so that the basis of their judgment, rather than just the verdict itself, is clear. This also is vital information for authors, who will have a clearer idea of how their work must be improved in order to be of a standard publishable in a leading journal.

Referees should also bear in mind that Journal policy is to make available as much of their reports as possible to the author(s). They should accordingly adopt a judicious tone in their assessment, while not forgetting that, if a paper is of very poor quality the report must indicate this. A clear and forthright report is of more use to author and Editor than a tactfully evasive one, but the language should be measured. If in doubt as to whether a given remark should be directed to both author and editor, direct it to the editor alone, who may make use of it in their own comments to the author. Occasionally referees make comments directed to the author that it would not be prudent for the journal to forward to the author; please note that the editor may minimally edit a report in such cases. 

In those rare cases where a referee has no comments to offer an author, but only wishes to make comments to the editors, please put 'N/A' or similar in the field for comments to the author to allow you to submit your recommendation. 


A paper accepted for publication in the AJP should of course display in a high degree the usual academic virtues—argument, organization, originality, scholarship, significance and so on—and referees are expected to comment on these matters. But it would be greatly appreciated if referees also asked themselves these sorts of questions about a submission: Is it enjoyable, even exciting, to read? Is it written in such a way that it might interest someone who does not already have detailed knowledge of its subject matter?

Referees are invited to ask themselves whether a submission displays flair, or elegance, or vivacity in the writing? (Or is the prose, for example, leaden or repetitive?) But care must be taken here. Referees must be mindful that the AJP is an international journal, and we receive and eventually publish many submissions by authors whose first language is not English. While the style and fluency of a submission are components of an evaluation, referees should not give undue weight to minor infelicities or unidiomatic language, and their presence should never be determinative of a recommendation. See our policy on language and style for more information on this point.

Referees should consider that (i) the AJP is one of the top-rated journals of its kind, and (ii) we have space for only a small percentage of the very large number of submissions we receive. As assessing revisions adds significantly to the already high workload, a referee should be confident that this sort of standard is likely to be achieved at the first attempt before recommending revision rather than rejection.

Referees should be wary of recommending revisions to an already-revised submission; writing a report is not managing the author from afar to produce the article you would have written. Referees should feel empowered to recommend rejection of a revised manuscript that has made changes in line with an earlier round of comments – often the changes that authors make serve to underline or bring out a weakness in the paper, and referees are not obligated to recommend acceptance just because the author has done something to respond to the referees prior concerns. Sometimes a second look at a submission allows referees to notice a problem they didn't previously notice, and it is okay to recommend rejection on that basis (even if in an ideal world it would have been noticed on the first look).

It hardly needs saying that we would like referees to assess the paper, as far as possible, with regard to the quality of its argumentation, rather than in terms of the compatibility of its conclusions with their own positions and philosophical commitments. Writing a report is different from writing a reply.


All intellectual property in submitted manuscripts remains with the author. Referees must always respect the moral and intellectual property rights of the author. Information gained by referees and others involved in the review of manuscripts is confidential to the reviewing process, and cannot be used by referees except for the purposes of conducting their review. 

©Australasian Association of Philosophy
ACN 152 892 272 ABN 29 152 892 272
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