M&SOM is the premier journal for the OM research community in which each member plays multiple roles: author, reviewer, reader, and educator (influencing students and practitioners). At the same time, the mission of M&SOM is to develop enduring knowledge that can lead to more efficient and effective processes for the creation and delivery of goods and services. Therefore, when we review a paper for M&SOM, we should keep the mission of M&SOM and the OM research community in mind. As I reflected upon on different types of referee reports that I received as an author or as an editorial board member, I find one type of report tends to be most constructive.
What is a constructive review?
By definition, a constructive review is a report that can help the author(s) to improve and/or to further develop the ideas/analysis/results presented in the article. Indeed, it could be argued that all reviewers aim to be constructive. In my opinion, a truly constructive review is a report that reflects the referee’s examination of the article from the perspective of the author: if I were the author myself, what would I do to improve? Are these improvement ideas: Feasible? Reasonable? Consistent with the goals of the paper?
A second important viewpoint is that of a reader: if the reviewer can put himself/herself into the shoes of the reader, s/he should be able to ask: what have I learn from the paper that I can build upon?
Thus, a truly constructive report will empathize with the author as well as with the reader.
Of course, the reviewer will look for whether or not the paper contains innovative ideas, relevant OM issues, and rigorous analysis. After all, this is what we expect from a reviewer.
How can a truly constructive review benefit the reviewer?
What’s in it for you, i.e. why should a reviewer to take extra efforts to write a constructive review? The straightforward answer is to ask yourself the kind of review you would want if you were the author. Besides the M&SOM meritorious awards recognizing excellent reviewers, writing a truly constructive review can help you to get more respect from the community.
I believe truly constructive reviews can encourage more submissions for M&SOM. More importantly, it can help us to build a more vibrant research community!