There are many misconceptions about developmental reviewing. Developmental reviewing does not mean saying only nice things about a paper or ignoring its flaws. Developmental reviews identify issues with the paper, but they also help authors take their work to the next level by offering ways to address these issues.
One way to be a developmental reviewer is to imagine a face-to-face conversation with the author. Picture the author as a colleague who asked you to review her paper. You’d point out her paper’s shortcomings, but you would also take the next step in offering ideas for how she could address them. You would try to find the hidden gems in the paper. You would listen to her and try to understand her perspective, even if it’s different from your own. You’d ask questions that would help her articulate and clarify her thinking and assumptions.
Developmental reviewing uses a different mindset that focuses not just on the work, but also on the author. What are the authors trying to say? What’s keeping them from realizing the potential of their ideas? Developmental reviewing not only helps authors realize the potential of their current paper but also builds their capacity for future work. This raises the level of scholarship for AMR and the field.
For more information on developmental reviewing, please visit Reviewer Resources, which has video interviews of award-winning reviewers discussing their approaches to developmental reviewing and links to editorial essays on how to write a developmental review.
Source: Ragins, B.R. 2015. Editors’ comments: Developing our authors. Academy of Management Review, 40: 1–8.