The Newcomer’s View of Reviewing

Blog Post written by Annaliese Micallef Grimaud & Matthias Lichtenfeld

Coffee #1
Monday morning: windy and rainy
Booting the laptop to life and…*ping*
The email account showed our new administrative task.

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That’s us, the new DURMS (Durham Undergraduate Research in Music & Science) editorial assistants. The Durham University Music & Science Lab has published its first online journal today, featuring empirical and theoretical papers written by undergraduate students taking courses in music psychology or music & science at Durham University.

As per all journals, when articles are submitted, they are first reviewed by the editorial team to ensure that everything is in order, and ready for publishing. This is where we come in; Annaliese, a composer, and Matthias, a music pedagogue and performer – two PhD researchers part of the Music & Science Lab team at Durham University. As part of the DURMS editorial team, we were responsible for reviewing the article submissions in all aspects for the new DURMS journal. This was our first experience as editorial assistants, hence we decided to document the pleasures, pains and uncertainties the venture presented.

When submitting articles for a journal, it is important to check and confirm that your article adheres with the formatting and layout style of the journal. Our role as editorial assistants entailed making sure that articles were free from inaccuracies and grammatical errors, and that they conformed with the stipulated style requirements of the DURMS publishing guidelines. The responsibilities included:


  • Ensuring correct font type and size for the abstract, body, different sections and headings
  • The structure of the article
  • Making sure text flow is smooth and comprehensible
  • Ensuring there is no repetition in the text


  • Reviewing for grammatical errors, punctuation and typos
  • Correct and consistent style of referencing, both in-text and bibliography-wise
  • Checking that information and facts are reliable
  • Confirming the correct use of margins, spacing, figure and table captions

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Monday late morning: still rainy, less windy

At first, the editing task seemed daunting and gruelling, and extra caution was taken when inspecting the articles, as it is the editorial team’s duty to improve accuracy in all aspects of the article. However, as we became more confident in what was expected from us as editorial assistants, the process became easier and most importantly, it had an unexpected positive side-effect; reviewing articles from the eyes of an editor instead of a writer’s gave us more insights to how one should go about writing an article, made us gain extensive knowledge of the formatting style’s guidelines, what should be avoided, and what the good tendencies are when writing an article. Reading someone else’s work and being in charge of editing it, resulted in a satisfying accomplishment, that made us more attentive, both as editorial assistants and as writers ourselves.

Now that we are in the running, here are some tips from the “new born” editorial assistants:

  • Make sure that you are familiar with the style and formatting required by the journal and stick to it from the beginning
  • Avoid awkward long sentences and phrasing (makes it easier to read and is more engaging for the readers)
  • References & bibliography: use a reference management tool instead of doing it manually, as it is less time consuming and reduces the chance of error. There are a substantial amount of free (and paid) reference management tools available online:
    • Mendeley
    • EndNote
    • Zotero
    • BibTeX (typically used in conjunction with LaTeX)
  • Before submitting your article, get someone to read it with a fresh pair of eyes to get a second opinion

Empty coffee mug
Monday afternoon: sun is shining
Task: Complete
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The very first issue of DURMS can be found online at:

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