Example Reviews

Examples of Helpful Reviews. Helpful reviews state their points clearly and justify their recommendations based on what is actually contained in the proposal.
helpful review of an accepted (empirical) proposal

Title of paper: Obstacles related to the notion of limit
Reviewer’s recommendation: Accept
Reviewer’s comments:
This is a qualitative study that builds on prior work by Smith and Jones on the learning of the notion of limit. The theoretical framework about epistemological obstacles is laid out clearly (Theoretical Framework [5/5]), and the author uses it to justify her choice of research questions (Choice of Problem or Question [5/5]).
The research is well connected to PME-NA goals from both empirical and theoretical points of view (some references are to previous works presented in PME-NA conferences). (Connected to PME-NA Goals [5/5])
The study is primarily descriptive. Qualitative analysis of discussions among small group members is ongoing. Scheduled individual interviews provided data on students’ work in groups and individually (Mode of Inquiry [5/5]). The results are presented clearly.
The author makes strong connections between her analysis of students’ learning and the notion of epistemological obstacle (Rigor of Analysis [5/5]). She also extends our understanding of epistemological obstacle by distinguishing among different kinds of obstacles students encounter in building an understanding of limit (Interpretation [5/5]).
The proposal is interesting to read (Quality of Writing [5/5]), contains original data, and adds to our understanding of how students learn the concept of limit. I encourage the author to see the recent article by Jones in last year’s proceedings, which provides an interesting comparison to this paper’s work.

helpful review of a rejected (empirical) proposal

Title of paper: Strategies and errors about solving problems in algebra
Reviewer’s recommendation: Reject
Reviewer’s comments:
The questions addressed are vague and the paper’s overall goal is unclear. The literature review, on strategies and errors in solving algebra problems, has a weak connection to the study as actually conducted (Choice of Problem or Question [2/5]). However, the work is related to PME-NA goals and it addresses important questions regarding students learning algebra (Connected to PME-NA Goals [4/5]).
The research design and mode of inquiry are appropriate, but the sampling procedure is inappropriate for a study that claims to generalize to a larger population. Also, the proposal does not give enough information about the study’s conduct. It is unclear what the authors actually did to generate the data they got (Mode of Inquiry [3/5]).
The poor sampling procedure and unclear methodology make the data difficult to interpret. As such, the author does a poor job of grounding his conclusions in the data. (Rigor of Analysis [1/5]).The author presumably knows more information than is presented in the paper, but it is not possible for the reader to assess the reasonableness of his conclusions (Interpretation [1/5]).
I have recommended that this proposal be rejected. This is not to say that the proposal contains nothing of value to PME-NA members. Indeed, it outlines a piece of research in an area where research is needed. I suggest that the author see recent articles by in and , which provide an interesting comparison to the author’s paper. I highly recommend that the author resubmit this proposal to next year’s PME-NA after taking these articles into account and after clarifying the study’s questions, goals, and methodology.

Examples of Unhelpful Reviews. Reviews that merely state a recommendation or state an objection without clear justifications based on the proposal’s content are of little assistance to the LOC.
An unhelpful review of an accepted proposal

Title of paper: Mental models related to geometric thinking
Reviewer’s recommendation: Accept
Reviewer’s comments: The goal of the paper is clearly formulated is related to PME-NA goals. Am not familiar with his theoretical framework, but it seems relevant.
The mode of inquiry and rigor are fine.

An unhelpful review of a rejected proposal

Title of paper: Learning fractional numbers in context
Reviewer’s recommendation: Reject
Reviewer’s comments: A clear goal of the paper is not indicated. The theoretical framework is not well based. Poor relationship to PME-NA goals.
The research design and mode of inquiry are inappropriate.
The analysis of results is not well connected to the conclusions.