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Standards & Guidelines » CAA Guidelines

Peer Review in CAA Publications

Adopted by the CAA Board of Directors on May 2, 2003; revised on October 23, 2011.

Peer review is the process by which academic journal articles are evaluated by other academic specialists working in the same field before being accepted for publication. A formal standardized procedure for peer review, as described throughout these guidelines, strengthens the authority of a journal and the value to the author or artist who publishes in it.

Peer reviews are an uncompensated, professional courtesy provided to authors and artists by internationally recognized specialists. These evaluations help an editor-in-chief to determine whether or not an article or other written submission, or an artist’s work or project, to a journal meets publication standards and, if it does, to provide the author or artist with recommendations for publication. Peer reviews may also contain edits and/or additions for the contributor to consider.

CAA’s print journals, The Art Bulletin and Art Journal, identify themselves as being peer reviewed. Most content published in the online, like the reviews sections of the print journals, may not require peer review (since reviews themselves are a form of peer review). Should CAA add a new project or publication, the associated description or purpose will identify whether or not it is peer reviewed. In the case of artist’s projects and other primarily creative works, members of the journals’ editorial boards may perform peer review, and editors-in-chief may consult outside experts to determine the suitability of the contribution.

CAA Guidelines for Peer Review

Many texts, projects, and other materials, including commissioned works, submitted to CAA’s journals undergo peer review prior to acceptance. When considering the merits of a finished contribution, editors-in-chief shall consult specialists in the field qualified in the particular subject matter under review.

Commissioned artist’s projects may also be subject to peer review. If a proposal for one is peer reviewed, the editor-in-chief is responsible for confirming that the completed work (manuscript or other material) matches the commissioned project. The editor-in-chief may have the final submission reviewed again.

Because the peer-review process is thorough and time consuming, the only submissions to undergo it are those that, based on the editor-in-chief’s initial determination, have already achieved the highest level of scholarship in art or art history and are thus viable candidates for this distinctive form of evaluation.

Peer reviews for each submission should be written by two established specialists in the field. Materials are usually sent “blind,” that is, without the author’s name and identified by number. When possible, CAA’s journals should use a double-blind process, so that contributors and reviewers remain anonymous to each other.

Peer reviews are written, signed documents. The editor-in-chief shall maintain a log of written articles that have been peer reviewed, which becomes a long-term, confidential record kept by him or her. The journal’s annual report, usually written by an editorial board’s chair for CAA’s Publications Committee and the Board of Directors, compiles statistics on rate of acceptance of articles.

Peer reviews of artist’s projects and other primarily creative works may take a different form from evaluations of scholarly manuscripts according to the discretion of the editor-in-chief on a case-by-case basis. Generally, artists’ works submitted in writing are peer reviewed whether they are commissioned or not. Commissioned artist’s projects are reviewed by the editor-in-chief. Artists’ proposals for projects are peer reviewed. Reviewers should take into account the particular creative disposition and characteristics of these works. Further, the very nature of such projects often precludes blind review; nevertheless, evaluations that do take place should strive for impartial assessment of the work on its merits.

Certain published materials, including book and exhibition reviews (which are themselves a form of peer review), interviews, and discussion forums, may not be subject to peer review as determined by the editor-in-chief.

Further Reading

The Modern Language Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Professional Rights and Responsibilities has published Advice for Authors, Reviewers, Publishers, and Editors of Literary Scholarship, which describes the steps for publishing scholarly material and suggests standards for this process.


Task Force to Review Guidelines for Peer Review in CAA Publications (2010–11): Susan Waller, University of Missouri, Saint Louis; and John Klein, Washington University in Saint Louis.

Publications Task Force (2001–3): Catherine Asher, University of Minnesota; Nancy Friese, Rhode Island School of Design; Michael Ann Holly, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; Virginia Mecklenburg, Smithsonian American Art Museum; Clarence Morgan, University of Minnesota; Eve Sinaiko, CAA Director of Publications.