Gemma Boleda (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
PC Chair Note: Gemma was an outstanding reviewer in 2016. We are very grateful for her nice advice!
One thing I do, when needed, is to give feedback about the write-up of the article. This ranges from the very basic “please help the reader follow your work by using the same terms in the table and in the text” to suggestions about how to structure the information into sections. I suspect I do it simply because I like it, but I also think that it is useful for the community: It results in clearer papers, and thus a better circulation of knowledge, and it helps junior colleagues and those who don’t have a good mentoring structure for this kind of skill in their home institutions. This was actually my case when I started in research, and I learnt how to write papers from reviewers’ feedback, so I approach reviewing as a form of extended mentorship.
Another thing I have learnt from reviewers of my own papers, especially one that I still remember (thank you!), is to give feedback in a constructive way, and I’m always happier when I find a positive wording (“would be better if” instead of “wrong”). This is important because it signals an engagement with, rather than an attack on, another person’s work.
I find that our community is sometimes too focused on numbers, so something I also do very consciously is to encourage analysis and reflection by asking questions like “why do you think you obtain this pattern?”, “what does your research tell us about how language works?”, or simply “can you show some examples?”, and I praise submissions that already do this.
Finally, I’d like to add that we tend to criticize reviewers a lot, and of course I get mad at Reviewer #3, too, but I think it’s good to remind ourselves of how privileged we are to routinely get colleagues who don’t even know us take the time to read our work and give feedback. So thanks, all, for your work!