Errors in Reviewing - From a Class Paper to a Publishable Review - Conference Proposals and Article Types

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Errors in Reviewing
From a Class Paper to a Publishable Review
Conference Proposals and Article Types

The worst mistakes in reviewing—and ways to avoid them—are discussed below.

· Plagiarism—take notes carefully and document all sources. Clearly differentiate between your thoughts and others’ ideas in notes. Check your work using a free plagiarism detector such as Turnitin to get a similarity score with published work; your score should be less than 5—8 %. When graduate students get much higher scores, they often are shocked but, even if your sources are documented, using too many long quotations will bump up the percentage of similarity with published sources.

· Inadequate sources—choose the appropriate data bases, work with an academic librarian, select scholarly sources (reputable, peer-reviewed publications) rather than popular sources, develop effective search strategies, discuss your idea with an expert in the field, search within your discipline and in other disciplines. Novices sometimes rely on professional opinion pieces or textbooks (which are secondary sources) rather than seeking out more authoritative sources with research evidence that can be more arduous to read.

· Weak argument—learn more about the common fallacies in logical arguments and how to avoid them, use authoritative definitions from the professional literature (rather than the dictionary), support assertions with evidence, supply concise examples to illustrate key points.

Online Tool

For a humorous look at logical fallacies, see “An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments” (Almosawwi, 2013) at

· Errors of fact—Use primary sources; check, check, and double check everything; present a balanced view and include conflicting findings; include more details on the findings from major studies; and synthesize the findings of less important studies.

· Listing— avoid boring lists in which each paragraph begins with a name and a date; chunk information and strive for meaningful synthesis; compare, contrast, and critique rather than merely report; cluster minor studies with similar findings together; and strive to emulate the writing style of published literature reviews (Jalongo & Heider, 2014). Table 5.3 highlights the types, functions, and questionable practices related to citing others’ work.

Table 5.3

Appropriate citation practices


 The reader should be able to check the source for its accuracy and the accuracy with which it is reported


 The source is given credit for its contribution


 The source is identified as the object of the research in its own right

Questionable citation practices

Convenience citation

 Selects citation material that is easy to find

Grey literature citation

 Relies heavily on unpublished material, such as conference presentations, submitted articles, and in-house papers and reports

Reputation citation

 Cites a work or part of a work as self-promotion, to enhance the reputation of a friend or to curry favor with an editor

Viewpoint citation

 Cites a work or part of a work purely because it supports a given hypothesis or idea rather than because it adheres to standards of quality; deliberately neglects to report findings that do not support the thesis

Source: West and Stenius (2009)