Peer Review Process

Peer Review Process

Once you submit your work for review, you will receive a digital receipt confirming your submission. We will notify you if something is missing. Submissions for the spring 2021 edition of The Owl are due by December 19st, 2020 at 11:59 PM EST. We aim to inform you whether your submission has been accepted by January 20th, 2021.

Manuscripts submitted to The Owl undergo a traditional peer-review process:

Articles: Manuscripts submitted to The Owl are read first by the editor-in-chief. At this stage, the editor-in-chief is looking primarily for basic clarity of writing and appropriate adherence to the formatting guidelines. If the article is determined to be suitable in content and clarity for The Owl, the manuscript will be assigned to be read by two–three associate editors with background knowledge in the manuscript’s subject discipline. When necessary, ad-hoc reviewers will be called upon read manuscripts if few associate editors have background knowledge in the topic matter. The associate editors and ad-hoc reviewers assess the article's rigor, methodology (when applicable), and clarity. They then submit reviews to the editor-in-chief, with recommendations for the article to be accepted with minor revisions, accepted with major revisions, or rejected. The editor-in-chief, in concert with the editorial board, will make a final determination, which will be passed along to the author.

Research-Based Creative Works: Research-based creative works submitted to The Owl are first examined by the editor-in-chief for adherence to the submission requirements, namely the inclusion of a research statement with the creative work. If the project is found to adhere to the requirements, it will be assigned to be reviewed by two–three associate editors with suitable expertise to evaluate the creative work and accompanying research statement. When necessary, ad-hoc reviewers from the appropriate discipline will be called upon to review the submission. The reviewers will submit their reviews to the editor-in-chief, who, in concert with the editorial board, will make a final determination, which will then be passed along to the author. Beginning with the 2021 journal and onward, The Owl will be placing increased emphasis on the caliber of the research statements of creative submissions in accordance with our mission to showcase quality undergraduate student research. As with traditional research submissions, creative submissions to The Owl will either receive a rejection, acceptance with minor revisions, or acceptance with major revisions. Typically, most revisions are directed at the research statement rather than the creative piece itself. This is to avoid imposing outside creative influence or control over artists' works.

You may submit up to five (5) visual art pieces (photographs, paintings, etc.) and up to three (3) written pieces (stories, poems, creative nonfiction, etc.). All creative pieces that are submitted must be connected through one research statement. Please feel free to contact The Owl with questions regarding multimodal art forms or other details regarding your creative submissions.

Why The Owl Uses a Peer Review System

  • To maintain the quality of our publication: Peer review ensures that our journal entries are of sound scientific integrity and professional quality. Employing peer review helps us to maintain our reputation as a veritable source of information and allows our readers to know that the research we publish was done correctly and thoroughly. 
  • To encourage our submitters to pursue academic excellence: Our selective peer-review process encourages student submitters to put extra effort into their work to increase their chances of acceptance. This promotes higher quality research and writing, which, in turn, upholds the high-quality standards of our journal.

What We Consider During Peer Review: Common Mistakes

The Owl receives more submissions than we have space to publish. Given this, we have to consider the relative merits of each manuscript we receive in determining which are the strongest pieces to publish. A manuscript can be rejected for a number of reasons; common issues are:

Lack of theoretical clarity and sufficient justification:

  • Provide a detailed discussion of what motivated the project at hand. Remember: “X has not been studied,” or, “X is interesting,” are rarely sufficient justifications on their own for undertaking a project. (E.g., we don’t know whether raccoons find cotton or rayon more comfortable, but the simple fact of our unknowing doesn’t justify putting resources toward finding out.) You should provide some sort of review of relevant literature at the beginning of your manuscript, and it should be clear how your understanding of the existing literature led you to develop your hypotheses. Also remember: For humanities research, maintaining a balance in your use of primary and secondary sources is advisable. For qualitative work, you must be able to clearly explain and justify your methods of analysis. For creative work, clearly discussing the research and experiences that informed the development of the project is key.

 Analytic mistakes:

  • This applies to STEM/social sciences more so than to the humanities. A basic understanding of the statistics and/or math underlying your analyses is important. Use conservative analyses, and do not overstate your findings. Manuscripts will not be rejected for small analytic mistakes that can be corrected during revision. However, major misuses/misinterpretations of statistics are cause for concern. Consider the following points (when applicable):
    • Think about whether one- or two-tailed p-values are appropriate for a given analysis. For directional hypotheses, one-tailed ps are often fine; otherwise, incline toward conservative, two-tailed tests.
    • Look at the scatterplot of your data, not the just the p-values/statistics output by a given test. For example: Imagine that you hypothesize that X will predict Y. You collect data, run a regression, and voila!a linear trend emerges. It is possible, though, that your data evince, say, a quadratic trend instead of a linear one. A correlation might still find a significant linear trend, even though the nature of your data is better captured by a quadratic model.
    • Avoid median splits. If you expect that age will predict variable Y, and you code age on a 1-100 scale, don’t throw away good data by unnecessarily splitting your data into categories. You should treat age a continuous variable; don’t chop up your age variable at different points (e.g., 20-40 = young; 41-60 = middle-aged; 61-80 = old) and use categorical tests. This is throwing away good, informative data.
    • Power analyses are desirable! Your paper won’t be rejected for not having a power analysis; however, if possible, consider providing one. If one is not provided, but would be simple to conduct given your methodology, we will likely request that you include one during the revision process. GPower is a free, easy-to-use software for conducting power analyses.
    • Remember: Each statistical test that you conduct has an error rate (e.g., α=.05). Unfortunately, error compounds when you conduct many tests. If you conduct 40 tests, each with a false-positive error rate of .05, the probability that at least one of those tests has produced a false-positive result has inflated to 1-(0.95^40) = 87! Determine ahead of time which tests you’ll perform (and keep the number of tests under control) in order to keep your false-positive error rate down. It’s OK to do exploratory analyses, but you must be clear about which tests were planned and which were exploratory.
    • We encourage analytic diversity. Significance testing/p-values are great, but they aren’t everything. If you have the requisite experience, we are happy to see the inclusion of Bayesian analyses, equivalence testing, and other methods of analysis that extend beyond traditional null hypothesis significance testing.

Things to Remember: 

Keep your language clear. Don’t overuse jargon, don’t obfuscate. Be clear and concise. This doesn’t mean write in a dry style—great papers are compelling, page-turning reads—but it does mean that you should avoid padding your manuscript with “fluff.”

When applicable, we strongly encourage the preregistration of studies (e.g., on, the open sharing of data and study materials (e.g., on, and other forms of research transparency.

If working with human subjects, you must ensure that you have received human ethics approval from the FSU Institutional Review Board to publish in the Owl. Contact the editor at with questions about this process.


The Learning Process: Building Professional Writing Skills 

In line with our mission to help familiarize submitters with the professional peer-review process, editors will work closely with students during the revision process and provide extensive, detailed feedback.