6 min read
Peer Review Graphic


The purpose of the peer review protocol is to enhance Extension scholarship by providing Extension faculty (tenure track and nontenure track) with an opportunity to have Extension educational products peer reviewed. Peer review assures the following:

  • A system-wide standard of excellence, leading to sustained credibility for the Extension brand.
  • A depth of intellectual rigor that communicates new or innovative knowledge or the compilation of existing knowledge in a new or innovative method.
  • Information appropriate for contemporary Extension audiences and relevant to the priority program team or special initiative team plans of work.
  • Appropriate credit for the author(s) on annual performance evaluations.

What Gets Peer Reviewed?

Examples of Extension educational products that are peer reviewed:

  • Curricula
  • Digital publications and manuscripts
  • Educational video scripts
  • Mobile apps
  • Online courses: scripts and content

Peer-reviewed Extension products are directed at the needs of clientele and prepared for lay and/or professional audiences. As much as possible, they should relate research-based information to practical techniques or concepts that clientele can use.

Examples of Extension items that are not peer reviewed:

  • “Timely Information” publications. Note: These publications are time sensitive, breaking news, and so only posted for a short time (1-year). Upon expiration, these may be deemed worthy of peer review to become an official publication.
  • Web content/Articles posted to the ACES website
  • Newsletters
  • Meeting handouts
  • Short course materials not published on the Alabama Extension website
  • Public relations materials
  • Conference proceedings, primary reports of research results, and other academic research publications

One-time or limited-use materials do not require peer review, but separate academic or professional review may be appropriate for these items, depending on the intended use of the material.

Policy on Peer-Reviewed Extension Product Authorship

The majority of authors on peer-reviewed Extension products must be Extension faculty (tenure track or nontenure track) from either Alabama A&M University or Auburn University.

File Format and Presentation

General Format

Alabama Cooperative Extension System technical digital publications are peer-reviewed articles developed by Extension personnel. This means they will be sent to Extension personnel and other content experts in Alabama or other states for a critical review. Review the Alabama Extension document Writing for Extension Audiences for writing style guidance.

Submitted files should be Microsoft Word documents, double spaced, in paragraph form, with line numbers. Line numbers may be inserted by looking under the Layout tab in Microsoft Word. Publication title only should be at the top of the first page; no author names or other identifying information. Font should be a minimum of 12 points. Margins should be 1 inch on all sides. Use only one space after sentence terminal periods.

Page Numbers

Number pages in the lower right-hand corner with numbered page 1 starting on the first page of the document. Page numbers may be inserted by looking under the “Insert” tab in Microsoft Word.

Nomenclature and Terminology

Common names are used for most plants and animals. Scientific names may be included in parentheses following the first use of the common name. Italicize scientific names as appropriate.

Acronyms and abbreviations may be used following the first full use of the term. Include the acronym or abbreviation in parentheses directly after the first use. Do not use acronyms at the start of a sentence.

Jargon and technical terms should be explained or sources for more information referenced.

Digits should be used to express numbers rather than writing them out in the text. The only exception is when starting a sentence with a number, then write it out. Use leading zeros on all decimals. For example, use 0.67 inch rather than .67 inch.

Spell out the word percent rather than using the symbol.

Plagiarism and Citations

Plagiarism is more than just directly copying words from another source and not providing credit to the author. It is also presenting the ideas of others and not giving proper credit. Using proper source citations can help avoid plagiarism.

Citations within the text are not included in Alabama Extension technical digital publications. Providing source information is encouraged and may be included in a “Works cited” or “For more information” section. References cited at the end of publications should be in the Council of Science Editors (CSE) format. An example of a citation in CSE format is shown below.

Author Last Name First Name Initial(s), Author Last Name First Name Initial(s). Year Published. Article title. Journal Name. Volume(Issue): page numbers.

Example: Anderson SH, Pudawatta R, Seobi T, and Garrett HE. 2009. Soil water content and infiltration in agroforestry buffer strips. Agroforestry Systems. 75(1): 5-16.

Tables, Figures & Images

Tables should be made using the table application within Microsoft Word. Tables should be numbered in the order they appear in the text (Table 1, Table 2, etc.). Table titles are placed above the table, outside the table itself, and are in title case and format (capitalize major words). Titles should be detailed enough that the table can stand alone from the document text, and the reader would understand the table without having to read the document. Do not use abbreviations in table column headings. Note: Do not embed tables within the text. Instead, place each table on a separate page at the end of the primary manuscript file.

Figures must be submitted as separate high-resolution EPS, TIFF, or JPG files and must be submitted separately under the Additional Files section. Submit only high-resolution EPS, TIFF, or JPG files. Do not embed figures within the main text. Figures should be numbered in the order they are referenced in the text (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.).

Figures presented in color are preferred. All images submitted must be the author’s property (s), or the author(s) must have written permission to use the image. Photos may also be selected from gettyimages.com. Choose the Creative (not Editorial) option and search for images for your publication. Include the image ID number so Extension Communications, Strategic Marketing & Client Relations editors or designers can download and include the Getty image in the finished document. Do not try to download them yourself.

Figure titles are placed below the figure, outside the figure itself, and written in sentence case and format. Titles should be detailed enough that the figure can stand alone from the document text, and the reader would understand the figure without having to read the document.

For Alabama Extension technical digital publications, a hero image is located at the top of each article posted online. Authors should work with Extension Communications to select a high-quality, aesthetically pleasing photo that accurately depicts the publication topic.

Rights Statement

Technical digital publications and all other materials created for Alabama Extension must include the civil rights statement. Extension Communications will add this statement, logo, etc., to final products submitted as Startup requests.

Funding/Support Statement

If the publication is associated with a funded project or program, a statement about the funding agency and the funding agency’s logo must also be included. Graphics files and additional information may be uploaded under the “Additional files” section.

Steps of Peer Review Process

Online File Submission Process by Authors

The corresponding author should go to https://scholasticahq.com/ and create an account.

Using the ACES Peer Review portal, which can be found at https://aces.scholasticahq.com/, the primary author should complete/upload the following information on the ACES Peer Review portal on Scholastica:

  • Metadata:
    • Title of the publication
    • Abstract–include a summary of paper content and the intended audience
    • Keywords
  • Author Information
    • Names, full email address, institution/campus affiliations, department/PPT
  • Files:
    • Primary manuscript files (These should be review ready in .doc form. Documents in the incorrect format will be returned to the primary author for correction before submission to reviewers.)
    • Additional files (Include high-resolution images or graphic files here along with any other files needed for the publication.)
  • Reviewers:
    • Name, affiliation, and email address of four peer reviewers (two internal to Extension/Auburn/AAMU and two external)
    • You may also list reviewers to avoid. This is optional.

Peer Review and Editorial Process

Peer Review

Upon submission to the ACES Peer Review portal on Scholastica, the proper assistant director will be assigned to the manuscript. They select and enlist a minimum of two reviewers submitting the necessary documents to reviewers through email. The assistant director has the final say on reviewer selection. The Extension peer-review process is double blind, that is, the identities of both author(s) and reviewer(s) are not disclosed.

Peer reviewers, especially external reviewers, will be provided some background information on Alabama Extension and the peer-review process. They will be asked to review the product and include specific, objective suggestions that would help the author(s) improve the product.

Necessary documents are accessible to reviewers through Scholastica. Notifications, updates, and requests are automatically emailed to reviewers through Scholastica.

Reviewers can accept or reject requests. If accepted, reviewers have 2 weeks to evaluate the product using the Reviewer Evaluation Form within Scholastica. Comments to the assistant directors and authors can be made separately. Automatic email reminders are generated by Scholastica for reviewers. Automated process updates are also generated and emailed to authors.

Reviews are Returned to Author(s)

Completed reviews are returned to the primary author by the appropriate assistant director via email through Scholastica. The primary author makes edits as necessary and responds in writing to all specific comments. This response is submitted through the ACES Peer Review portal on Scholastica to the assistant director for final review.

For re-submission to the assistant director, revised documents should be named as follows RTNP_Author First and Last Name _revision date. For example, for an article revised on September 2, 2021, the file name would be RTNP_JaneSmith_09022021.doc. Note: RTNP = Reviewed Technical Numbered Publications.

If the primary author fails to respond with corrections/edits within 3 months, the author(s) must re-initiate the peer-review process. If the initial draft or prototype does not pass peer review, its primary author may appeal that decision to his/her assistant director within 1 month.

Final Approval by Assistant Director & Startup Submission

When the product is in final form and the assistant director is satisfied with the primary author’s response and revisions, the primary author is notified of approval via the ACES Peer Review portal in Scholastica.

Submissions to Alabama Extension’s Startup must verify that peer review has been completed and should include the following documents as attachments to the Startup submission:

1) Fully revised manuscript

2) Acceptance letter from assistant director

3) Comments from reviewers

4) Letter from the corresponding author explaining how specific comments were addressed

The final Technical Publication Number will be applied to the document after the final Startup process is completed by the author in collaboration with Extension Communications, Strategic Marketing & Client Relations.