Peer Review Guidelines


 The stated goal of The Mirror of Race is to engender reflection on and discussion about the meaning of race, both in the United States and beyond, in a way that combines personal reaction with informed study. While the project draws on history, its focus is as much on the present and the future of what race has meant, could mean, and should mean in our nation and globally, using the early photographs in the exhibition as a source of inspiration and investigation. We are seeking submissions that actively engage the images in the online exhibition, that help viewers understand the broader context (past, present, or future), and that provoke viewers to reexamine their own ways of seeing race. The site aims at a wide audience, from the general public to educators and students from primary school through graduate level in university. While contributors should abide by the standards of rigor in their fields, we are also hoping that they will step outside the confines of their disciplines and speak to their most pressing concerns in a way that will engage the viewers of the website, provide a model for responsible reflection, and thereby help them engage intensively the material and the issues for themselves.  


Reviewers should assess the submissions according to the usual response range:

1) Accept with no or minor revisions (specified by the reviewer)

2) Accept, pending revisions (reviewer should specify needed revisions)

3) Revise and resubmit (reviewer should specify needed revisions)

4) Reject (reviewer should explain reasons for rejection)

Detailed comments by the reviewer are encouraged. In the case of requested revisions, these need to be specified and explained (as would the reasons for an outright rejection).


The Mirror of Race project seeks written work with these qualities:

1) Discipline Specific Standards: rigor without academicism. We are seeking written submissions from a wide range of contributors: academics, journalists, and writers. A contribution should adhere to the standards relevant to its discipline, but it should be directed to a general audience and therefore not overwhelmed by jargon or academicism, either in style or content. The work should back up its claims with appropriate footnotes and scholarship; it should inspire confidence in its rigor, but it should not be a merely scholastic exercise directed at a narrow subset of specialists. Footnotes should provide primary source information whenever possible, preferably in a form that could be converted into a link, so that interested readers may find this material for themselves. Authors are encouraged to provide readers with suggestions for further reading, either in footnotes or in a short guide following the essay.

2) Style: essays, not articles. A written contribution should be, in style and spirit, as much of an essay as possible, rather than, again, a merely academic exercise. In exploring questions, issues and ideas, it should make an area of interest accessible to a general audience. Authors are encouraged to adopt a more informal style. Part of our goal is to get viewers of the site to respond personally to the photographs, and authors may do so as well. We hope that authors will take this as an opportunity to explain what moves and motivates their own studies and to step beyond the confines of their respective disciplines, without sacrificing rigor.

3) Audience: varied. Because the project envisions readers at all levels, from school-age children to graduate students, as well as the general public, the author may be given latitude for the level of the intended audience. Authors are encouraged to provide the editors with a note explaining their intended audience level (high school students, college students, elementary school teachers, etc.). As the website develops, we hope to organize the essays in various ways, including by intended audience level.

4) Connection to the Online Exhibition: varied. Within reason, essays should engage the online exhibition of photographs on the Mirror of Race website (  This is a matter of judgment in the context of each submission. Some essays may use a single image as a jumping-off point for an abstract issue, such as the relationship of law and race; others may engage in close analyses of one or more individual photographs. In general, authors are encouraged to respond in a personal way to the photographs, even if their topics are relatively abstract or factual in scope, as this is what we are asking the visitors to the site to do as well. Our writers should help show them the way to bridge personal reaction and informed discussion. 


Topic: Is the topic clear and well motivated in the context of the overall aims of The Mirror of Race project?

Rigor: Does the essay adhere to discipline‑specific standards appropriate to its subject matter? Does it provide footnotes, a bibliography, or other reference material that would allow a reader to find relevant sources easily and in their most complete form?

Style: Does the work read like an essay, rather than a merely academic article? Does it engage the issues and materials in a way that visitors to the site can use as a stimulus to their own explorations? Is the author modeling for the audience what it means to reflect seriously, even personally, upon the relevant issues about race?

Audience: Is the level of the intended audience reasonably clear? 

Connection to the Photographs: Giving consideration to the nature of the topic, does the author connect the issues raised by the essay in some palpable way to the images in the online exhibition? 


We are seeking artistic submissions from all fields, from photography and film to painting and to poetry and storytelling. Artistic submissions should consider the following criteria:

1) Submissions by artists should enter into a conversation with the photographs in the online exhibition in a manner appropriate to their genre. 

2) Submissions should be suitable for exhibition online. We will create exhibition pages on the project’s website for successful submissions. 

3) Submissions should meet the standards of their respective fields, to be assessed by peer review. 

4) Artists are encouraged to provide a narrative explaining their submissions and their relation to the photographs and the themes of The Mirror of Race project.