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Peer-Review Record

Massive Open Online Education for Environmental Activism: The Worldwide Problem of Marine Litter

Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2860; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102860
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Jordi Colomer Feliu
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2860; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102860
Received: 10 April 2019 / Revised: 15 May 2019 / Accepted: 16 May 2019 / Published: 20 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Education for Sustainability)

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

The paper presents an Massive open online education for environmental activism. It is a topic of interest to the researchers in the related areas. My detailed comments are as follows:

1.     The topic is novel but the application proposed is not so novel.

2.     It is noted that the research problem should be define, the goals and results of the study also should be clear to the reader.

3. The goals and results of the study are not clear to the reader.

4. In general, there is a lack of explanation of statistical methods used in the study.

5. It lacks analytical methodologies to support author’s discoveries.

6. Furthermore, an explanation of why the authors did these various experiments should be provided.

7. There is nothing to explain about the research reliability and validity in this paper for your questionnaire.

8. The conclusions are overstated. Also the author should accentuate his contributions in this manuscript.


Author Response

Comments and Suggestions for Authors

The paper presents an Massive open online education for environmental activism. It is a topic of interest to the researchers in the related areas. My detailed comments are as follows:

> We thank Reviewer 1 for the time that has been invested in evaluating this manuscript and for the provided valuable comments. We have now revised the manuscript based on the given suggestions.

1.     The topic is novel but the application proposed is not so novel.

> We agree. Therefore we have evidenced this argument in the introduction referencing 3 more studies exploring environmental activism and education.

2.     It is noted that the research problem should be defined, the goals and results of the study also should be clear to the reader.

>We have now clearly reformulated the research problem together with the research questions (RQs) in the first section of the paper. We have also connected and analysed the RQ in the discussion and conclusions section.

3. The goals and results of the study are not clear to the reader.

>We have reworked the key statements and headings to provide more clarity to the reader.

4. In general, there is a lack of explanation of statistical methods used in the study.

> We agree that the statistical methods used were not described in section 2.3 as the heading “Measure instruments and data analysis” suggested. The statistic methods used are described in each specific question when the results are analysed. The following actions were performed;

We have now extended the explanation of section 2.3 elaborating on the measure instruments included.

We have provided more clarity to the analysis of the results describing why Shapiro-Wilk, Wilkoxon, and Cronbach’s test were performed

We have renamed heading from section 2.3

5. It lacks analytical methodologies to support author’s discoveries.

> We have now reworked the discussion and conclusions section supporting the discoveries based on the findings. Please also see answer to the  previous comment. If more analytical methodologies were need, we would really appreciate when the reviewer might highlight which specific section/paragraph should be improved.

6. Furthermore, an explanation of why the authors did these various experiments should be provided.

> We are not sure to which experiments the reviewer refers. We understand that the reviewer is missing a justification of the overall MOOC now. We have now provided more arguments and reworded key statements to shed our light on this. If this is not the case, we would really appreciate it when the reviewer might be more specific.

7. There is nothing to explain about the research reliability and validity in this paper for your questionnaire.

> Thanks for your comment. We have now included the results obtained from Cronbachs’ alpha for Tables 4, 5 and 6.  Shapiro-Wilk and Wilcoxon tests were previously conducted the confirm both the normality of the distribution and whether the difference between the measures were significant.


8. The conclusions are overstated. Also the author should accentuate his contributions in this manuscript.

> We have rewritten the section being more cautious in our statements. We have also accentuated the contribution of the manuscript


Reviewer 2 Report

1) Lines 17-18. The phrase is confusing. It needs to be splited in two.

2) In the abstract there is almost no conclusion of the study. Authors should introduce the activism proposals that this study have promoted.

3) First paragraph of the introduction: if the paper is focusing on marine litter and the effects on the coastline areas, please use more references on plastics at sea. I therefore recommend to focus on more data on the plastics and microplastics at sea. You coud use some new references:


a) Lost at sea: where is all the plastic. By Richard C Thompson et al.

b) Studis of the effets of microplastics on aquatic organisms: What do we know and where should we focus our efforts in the future?. By Luís Carlos de Sá et al.


4) The second paragraph of the introduction (line 39 to 44) should be deleted. That information is later presented in section 1.1

5) Lines 103 to 107. I am confusing about the specializations of the MOOC, since the 'Leadership Track' and the 'Expert Track' are introduced based on practical activity. The specialization are later related to activities and the model is presented in the results. My opinion is that the model should not be presented as a result itself. The model should be moved to the M&M section.

6) The case studies in the 3.1 section should be presented in a table (those presented in lines 149 to 162). Also the case studies fro the Expert Track should be presented in that table. Please notice that the originality of the paper is just justified on the 'environmental activism'. Therefore the paper should be focused on the proposed activities to reduce the marine liter in the worlwide ecosystems and how education in sustainability may help to address that activism.

7) Information on section 3.2.1. is far more interesting than the information in 3.2.2. The information: questions and answers should be presented in a new table and possible with some analysis of the categories derived from the participants answers.

8) Section 3.2.2. The results on this section should be moved to M&M to reinforce the caracterization of the participants.

9) Line 216 to 218. The description is very poor. Table 2: the results are almost not described. The results in table 2 should be presented the other way around with absolute values in the parenthesis.

10) Probably the authors of the manuscript fail at presenting the results since they are presented too linearly. I recommend to built a table with the questions and then carefully describe the results.

11) Although table 3 is presentes, in the paragraph from lines 226 to 240, there is some confusing since table 3 presents 5 elements, and the authors describe four items, which reading is different from the ones in table 3.

12) Following with table 3, in lines 246 to lines 253, the authors refer to the question: 'do you consider yourself an active person in the cause of combating marine litter?. This question does not appear in table 3. The discourse is difficult at this part of the results section.

13) lines 254 to 255. I am totaly lost.

14) In lines 258 to 267 the activites pursued by the participants are presented. This  a clue paragraph that should be reinforced since the results of the study are realy seen. I propose a new table listing (in categories?) the proposed actions.

15) Line 276. Delete 'Amigos del mar'

16) Line 281. Delete 'Caminos sin plástico'

17) Line 293. Translate 'Vigilantes marinos de Sevilla'.

18) Line 307. Translate 'I Jornadas de Ciencia Ciudadana'.

19) I would change 'producer' to 'prosumer'.

20) The discussion in lines 343 to 348 should emphasized the sustainability of the findings.

21) Discussion should incorporate the limitations of the study.

22) Conclusion should include a criticism on the activities that emerge from the environmental activism to reduce marine litter.

23) Some references are not in the right format: 5, 6, 8, 9, 16, 18, 25, 26.

Author Response

Comments and Suggestions for Authors


> We thank Reviewer 2 for the time that has been invested in evaluating this manuscript and for the provided valuable comments. We have now revised the manuscript based on the given suggestions.

1) Lines 17-18. The phrase is confusing. It needs to be splitted in two.

>Thanks for your comments. We have now splitted the statement into two.

2) In the abstract there is almost no conclusion of the study. Authors should introduce the activism proposals that this study have promoted.

>Some of the main activism proposals have been included at the end of the abstract. We have also reworked the conclusions section to highlight the findings based on the initially stated research questions.

3) First paragraph of the introduction: if the paper is focusing on marine litter and the effects on the coastline areas, please use more references on plastics at sea. I therefore recommend to focus on more data on the plastics and microplastics at sea. You could use some new references:

a) Lost at sea: where is all the plastic. By Richard C Thompson et al.

b) Studis of the effets of microplastics on aquatic organisms: What do we know and where should we focus our efforts in the future?. By Luís Carlos de Sá et a

>The Referee’s suggestion has been addressed by adding more information on the marine litter problem and its effect. Moreover we added 9 relevant recent references to focus on plastics and microplastics recent papers. We added the following references: [1-4][6][8-13]

4) The second paragraph of the introduction (line 39 to 44) should be deleted. That information is later presented in section 1.1

>The information described in these lines is not repeated later. We first introduce MOOCs as a new way of e-learning and then in section 1.1 we describe our specific MOOC. We consider it is necessary to include both statements.

5) Lines 103 to 107. I am confusing about the specializations of the MOOC, since the 'Leadership Track' and the 'Expert Track' are introduced based on practical activity. The specialization are later related to activities and the model is presented in the results. My opinion is that the model should not be presented as a result itself. The model should be moved to the M&M section.

>We have now clarified how tracks are distributed and how certificates are granted. We have moved the description of the model to the M&M section as suggested by the reviewer.

6) The case studies in the 3.1 section should be presented in a table (those presented in lines 149 to 162). Also the case studies for the Expert Track should be presented in that table. Please notice that the originality of the paper is just justified on the 'environmental activism'. Therefore the paper should be focused on the proposed activities to reduce the marine litter in the worldwide ecosystems and how education in sustainability may help to address that activism.

>We agree that case studies and actions plans should be highlighted. We decided to present it in two bulleted list instead of tables because: 1) The tables resulting from expert track and leadership track would have only five and four items respectively. 2) The article already contains 6 tables. We have added reference [17] with previous work where model, problems and solutions are further analysed.

7) Information on section 3.2.1. is far more interesting than the information in 3.2.2. The information: questions and answers should be presented in a new table and possible with some analysis of the categories derived from the participants answers.

>We thank the Referee for the suggestion. We have stressed the importance of section 3.2.1 splitting the section into two sections (“Previous experience” and “Expectations”). We have created new table 3 including this results. We have also added the analysis of these results to the conclusions section (See section 4 RQ1).

8) Section 3.2.2. The results on this section should be moved to M&M to reinforce the characterization of the participants.

>We agree. We have moved that table to M&M section to describe the profile of the participants..

9) Line 216 to 218. The description is very poor. Table 2: the results are almost not described. The results in table 2 should be presented the other way around with absolute values in the parenthesis.

>We have now elaborated the description of Table 2. We have also extend the conclusions of analysing this table in the conclusions section (See section 4 RQ 2). We have changed all tables so that absolute values in the parenthesis

10) Probably the authors of the manuscript fail at presenting the results since they are presented too linearly. I recommend to built a table with the questions and then carefully describe the results.

>We have clustered the results section into concise and specific subsections so that the presentation does not look so linear.

11) Although table 3 is presented, in the paragraph from lines 226 to 240, there is some confusing since table 3 presents 5 elements, and the authors describe four items, which reading is different from the ones in table 3.

>We agree. We have reorganized Table 3 (now Table 5) presenting the items in decreasing order of mean. We have also listed the rest of existing items in the paragraph.

12) Following with table 3, in lines 246 to lines 253, the authors refer to the question: 'do you consider yourself an active person in the cause of combating marine litter?. This question does not appear in table 3. The discourse is difficult at this part of the results section.

>We agree. Therefore, we have completely reorganized this section extracting the question pinpointed by the reviewer into a new subsection 3.2.1 where it is further described.

13) lines 254 to 255. I am totally lost.

>We calculate Shapiro-Wilk to test the normality assumption towards performing an ANOVA test, and consequently to test whether the differences obtained in the means from pre and post are significant. We have now provided more clarity to the analysis.

14) In lines 258 to 267 the activities pursued by the participants are presented. This  a clue paragraph that should be reinforced since the results of the study are really seen. I propose a new table listing (in categories?) the proposed actions.

>We agree. Therefore we have elaborated on these findings in the conclusions section.  As there are not enough contributions to classify them in a table (because it was an optional item) we decided to stress the existing reports with new bulleted list.

15) Line 276. Delete 'Amigos del mar'

>Done!.

16) Line 281. Delete 'Caminos sin plástico'

>Done!.

17) Line 293. Translate 'Vigilantes marinos de Sevilla'.

>Done!.

18) Line 307. Translate 'I Jornadas de Ciencia Ciudadana'.

>Done!

19) I would change 'producer' to 'prosumer'.

>We understand the reviewer refers to Table 1. Probably ‘prosumer’ might fit better in the context. However, we cannot change it because ‘producer’ is the way it was stated in the questionnaire.

20) The discussion in lines 343 to 348 should emphasized the sustainability of the findings.

>Done! See very first paragraph of the conclusions.

21) Discussion should incorporate the limitations of the study.

>Done! See section 4.1.

22) Conclusion should include a criticism on the activities that emerge from the environmental activism to reduce marine litter.

>We have now added a paragraph from a critical perspective at the end of the paper. Following this thread, we have also identified cues for further research.

23) Some references are not in the right format: 5, 6, 8, 9, 16, 18, 25, 26.

>References have been fixed


Round 2

Reviewer 1 Report

After I review all the review question and the authors are well done and finish their revised version

Author Response

Comments and Suggestions for Authors

After I review all the review question and the authors are well done and finish their revised version

>We thank Reviewer 1 for the time that has been invested in evaluating this manuscript and for the provided valuable comments.

Reviewer 2 Report

I do consider the authors have done a great job in revising the manuscript.

Author Response

Comments and Suggestions for Authors

I do consider the authors have done a great job in revising the manuscript.

>We thank Reviewer 2 for the time that has been invested in evaluating this manuscript and for the provided valuable comments.

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