Peer Review

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Identifying where to get your textbook peer reviewed can be a challenge for open textbooks because they are published outside of the traditional publishing framework. Peer reviewers are most often established scholars with relevant expertise. Scholars who have already published at least one scholarly book (or have a book forthcoming) are preferred, although an extensive record of journal publications on relevant topics is acceptable.

Why Peer Review

Open educational resources have often been criticized for lacking "quality." While the issue of quality has been debated in a number of articles that have analyzed open textbooks, peer review is one way to address the issue of quality while gaining important feedback for improvement of your textbook.

Further Reading

Peer Review Options

Ask Your Colleagues

Invite a colleague to serve as subject-matter experts (SME) and conduct a peer review of your work before it goes to copy editing. It is best to choose a peer reviewer without any existing personal connections to you (e.g. dissertation advisor, etc.). To avoid any potential question around impartiality, avoid colleagues and close collaborators. For additional guidance review the AAUP Handbook: Best Practices for Peer Review.

Questions for Peer Review
  1. Can you suggest study questions or exercises that will help the student learn this information?
  2. What information is inaccurate? Please offer corrections.
  3. Is there any information missing? Please provide a list.
  4. Are there learning objects that could be used to enhance the information, such as case studies, historical examples, graphs, tables, and images?
  5. Do you have a list of suggested readings for students?

Like other textbook tasks, providing your SME with clear expectations will make this phase of the writing project smoother. It will also save your SME time and you frustration. Here are some suggestions.

  • Only give the SME text that needs their input, not the whole textbook (unless it helps with the assessment).
  • Identify the course level and subject matter for which the textbook is intended.
  • Use a rubric that informs the SME about required feedback.
  • Clarify that you are seeking the SME’s expertise on the content, but do not need help with grammar, spelling, layout, or other aspects of the textbook.
  • Give the SME adequate time to conduct the review and set a deadline.

Develop a Peer Review Rubric

When asking colleagues to peer review your work you want to be specific in the feedback you are hoping to receive. Are you seeking editorial feedback or conceptual feedback? Developing a rubric to may be useful in both getting feedback that is specific to your needs and saving the time of your peer reviewers. Here are some possible questions you can ask to help steer feedback and make sure all areas are covered.

Submit your Textbook to BCcampus

The BCcampus Open Textbook Collection offers a process for peer review before the textbook is made available through their collection. If you submit your textbook to BCcampus your text will be listed as an option for peer review. Your textbook must meet the collection standards for BCcampus. To learn more about BCcampus's selection process, review the Suggestion for Collection Guidelines.

Blue Download.png Downloadable Templates

Peer Review Rubric [Word file] from BCcampus


Presses generally offer readers an honorarium in return for their evaluations of projects. That the compensation is an honorarium, not a fee, is important. First, using the term "honorarium" highlights the fact that peer review is a responsibility academics bear as members of the scholarly community. Second, the term points to the fact that a press is not buying an expert opinion in the way that, say, a defense attorney may pay an expert to offer a particular reading of evidence. A peer reviewer is expected to provide an unbiased, candid, well-supported evaluation of a project’s merits.

Honoraria amounts vary widely. The amounts should reflect the scope of the work the reviewer is being asked to do; honoraria are typically larger for full textbooks than for individual chapters or parts. In addition, asking a peer reviewer to evaluate a particularly long manuscript or to provide a report in an unusually short amount of time often warrants increasing the amount of an honorarium.

Examples of Honorarium for Open Textbooks
  • BCcampus - $250 honorarium as a token of our gratitude for evaluating and improving the materials being created.
  • Open Ed Manitoba - $250 honorarium is available to Manitoba instructors for reviewing open textbooks.
  • BCcampus & Langara College - BCcampus offers a $250 honorarium with a matching $250 from Open Langara for Langara faculty engaging in peer review of open textbooks.

Adaption Statements