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ASAP Commentary: Guidelines for contributors

I. Functions and nature of ASAP commentary

A sufficient reason for including peer commentary in ASAP is that dialog is central to scientific progress and the growth of knowledge. A second reason, related to this, is that papers with commentary are useful from a pedagogical standpoint, as they can provide students with multiple perspectives on complex social issues.  A third is that the social policy issues with which ASAP concerns itself are often sufficiently nuanced, multifaceted, and multidisciplinary so that no single author or paper could do justice to them.

ASAP’s approach to publishing commentary is an unusual one. Target papers are published twice: First, under a banner that invites commentary for a period of approximately six months, then again in a “virtual issue” together with comments and the author’s response.  The approach avoids the insularity that can occur when comments are invited only from selected scholars and avoids the time lags that can occur when a collection of papers and comments is held up for the slowest link.  The approach retains the benefits of peer review and commentary, providing a vetted dialectic structure that is arguably critical to the growth of knowledge and valuable from a pedagogical standpoint. 

ASAP has included papers with commentary almost since the inception of the Journal.  With the 2010 Volume, ASAP has expanded the use of this approach, as all authors have the option of inviting commentary. The decision to invite commentary is made by the author or authors at the time of initial submission. 

II. Guidelines for submitting comments

All comments will be refereed.  Commentators may, at their discretion, choose to submit their work anonymously (blind).    Comments will typically be less than 1000 words in length, excluding references and an abstract of no more than 100 words. References and paper structure should adhere to guidelines provided in the most recent version of the APA Manual­. The typical comment will include no more than one level of heading and may include tables and/or figures where appropriate. Comments should not include endnotes or footnotes, but should include a brief author note.

Comments should be submitted online at

In preparing comments, authors are encouraged to be explicit in describing the relationship between their own contribution and those of the target paper.  Typically, comments will not restate large portions of the initial argument, but will indicate the aspect or aspects of the target paper that provide the starting point for the comment. 

Commentators are urged to keep in mind the guidelines for reviewers provided in the next section.

III. Guidelines for evaluating comments

Editorial decisions on the inclusion of comments will be based on their perceived ability to advance the scientific, pedagogical, and policy-relevant goals described above.  It is anticipated that comments will be constructive and may include (a) evidence-based arguments, where evidence may be scholarly (literature-based) or empirical (data-based); such arguments may supplement or contradict those in the initial paper. Comments may also center on (b) logical or methodological critiques or elaborations, (c) discussions of the implications for settings, policies, or areas of scholarship not considered in the initial paper, or, less ideally, (d) may treat the initial paper as a starting point for consideration of a closely analogous line of scholarship or policy. 

Additional questions concerning the suitability, structure, or submission of comments may be sent to the editor (