Volunteering to review
You do not need to be a member of ARLIS/NA or be a librarian to be considered for a review assignment. However, all reviewers are expected to critically assess resources with thoroughness and clarity.
The M&TR co-editors post calls for reviewers on the ARLIS-L listserv and various other email lists periodically. Prospective reviewers fill out an interest form indicating which proposed resources they prefer to review, along with their background qualifications. Selected reviewers are paired with a co-editor for follow-up consultation and editing.
Resources selected for review range from traditional research databases to mobile applications, video games, and online publications. Categories include:
- Databases / Indexes (commercial and free)
- Digital projects
- Online archives
- Online exhibitions
- Digital design collectives
- Digital humanities research
- Digital publications
- Blogs or other web forums
- Online journals
- Conferences (including papers and panels)
- Online presentations including OER (open educational resources), lectures, and demonstrations
- Performance videos, films, viral videos
- Interactive resources, including site-specific works and mobile apps
- Productivity tools
- Research guides or subject portals
- Video games
Reviewers should not rely on literal descriptions of how a resource functions, but instead think critically about the overall value and effectiveness of the content and execution. In some cases a resource’s design or choice of platform may be surpassed by the value and quality of the content.
The reviewer should consider the following factors:
- Content value
- Identify targeted users; how well would this resource benefit the target audience?
- Are there comparable works? How do they compare in terms of content scope? execution?
- Is there transparency around who created the resource and for what purpose?
- Is there clarity concerning authority for cited resources?
- Format and presentation
- Does the chosen delivery platform make sense, i.e. does the resource make effective use of the platform to enable an experience that would not be attainable in another format such as a book, a physical exhibition, or another type of media?
- Is the structure coherent and intuitive? Is the resource easy to navigate?
- Does the resource provide adequate discoverability of the content, through metadata and retrieval tools?
- Are there special requirements for accessing this resource? (fees, tiers of access, specific software or hardware)
- Can content be downloaded?
- Is there transparency about when the resource was last updated? Are there plans to provide additional content?
- What commitments are in place for maintaining the resource?
- Is the resource designed to support migration of data over time? Does it employ persistent links?
Author / Creator Responses to Reviews
An author or publisher may respond to a review within six weeks of its publication. The reviewer will be given the opportunity to draft a corresponding response within two weeks. All responses should be limited to factual statements and corrections, and may run no longer than 200 words. The co-editors will post both the initial response and any response from the reviewer simultaneously on the ARLIS/NA Multimedia and Technology Reviews website. No further responses will be solicited or accepted.
Editorial and style guidelines
The first sentence or paragraph of the review should provide an overview description of the purpose and scope of the content suitable for excerpting (include an in-line link to the resource).
Each review should be no more than 550 to 600 words.
When possible, each review should be accompanied by up to three screen capture images, or film stills. The co-editors will work with authors regarding image size, captions, and alt text to support accessibility.
The reviewer must confirm that all facts are correct at the time of review. Names of people, places, companies, etc., must be spelled correctly; acronyms, e.g. MOOCs, LOCKSS, etc., must be accurately defined or spelled out for readers. If in doubt about a resource’s claim, reviewers should contact the resource’s administrators when possible to confirm.
The Chicago Manual of Style should be consulted to resolve all grammar and style questions.
Basic style guidelines:
- Use a balanced, analytical tone
- Avoid contractions, colloquialisms, jargon, and the first person voice
- Avoid using footnotes and/or endnotes (if references are essential, prefer inline citations)
- Titles of publications should be italicized, not underlined or in quotes
- Numbers one through one hundred are spelled out; thereafter use Arabic numerals
- Preferred word forms: online, website, videodisk, 1980s, catalogue (for a museum exhibition catalogues or catalogues raisonné), nineteenth century (noun), nineteenth-century (adjective)
- Capitalize the letter “B” in “Black when referring to racial or cultural identity. The capitalization of “White” may depend on context
The editors will provide document templates to reviewers. Please see Review Formatting Guidelines for more details.