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Peer-Review Record

Helping One’s Neighbor: Teaching and Learning Prosocial Behavior in a Religious Community

Religions 2019, 10(9), 515; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090515
Reviewer 1: Wim Vandewiele
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Reviewer 4: Anonymous
Religions 2019, 10(9), 515; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090515
Received: 9 May 2019 / Revised: 6 August 2019 / Accepted: 18 August 2019 / Published: 5 September 2019

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

Although the chosen subject certainly creates added value and the results are interesting, this analysis and the entire article are overshadowed by methodological (e.g. the embedding in literature) and conceptual shortcomings. These have to be revised by the authors anyway. 

 

Following points need urgent and fundamental clarification before approval for publication:

The authors mention on page 2 (line 91-92) that “it is interesting to find answers to these questions 91 based on subjective or quotidian knowledge, from the point of view of subjective theories (ST), […]”. —> (1) The authors very quickly move on to the question (line 53-57) from the view of ST, without, however, providing sufficient justification as to why this is so 'interesting'. (2) Furthermore, it is not clear how this view of ST  relates to the two theoretical positions who exists on prosociality (line 39-42). (3) How do the authors relate themselves to this two theoretical positions?

The participants (line 120-121) are members of a Pentecostal Methodist church located in a municipality of the 120 Atacama region (Chile). —> (1) It would be useful to have additional background on this specific case, including the question why this region and community in Chile is so interesting at the moment, because not all readers are familiar with the Chilean situation. 

The methodological literature (pages 3-4, line 133-16) used by the authors for their broad use of qualitative research techniques (observation, interviews, discussion groups) is extremely limited (especially Flick, 2006) and outdated. —> (1) Today there is a broad spectrum of current literature on qualitative research techniques (e.g. from Flick). The authors really need to anchor their case study, completely based on qualitative research technique, in the existing actual and broad methodological literature. (2) Why are the Sunday school teachers specifically selected for an ‘episodic’ interview (line 161-162)? This needs further clarification. (3) What do the authors specifically mean with ‘episodic interviews’ (line 155-160) This needs further clarification. 

 The authors mention on page 4 (line 171-172): “Data analysis consisted in a combination of grounded theory techniques (Strauss & Corbin, 2002) 171 and the brief case description of thematic coding (Flick, 2006).”—> (1) Open, axial and selective coding are part of the grouded theory technique. The authors write that they use two techniques (also in the summary of the article), but thematic coding is an essential part of grounded theory. The authors show little evidence of a thorough knowledge of grounded theory. It isn‘t enough just to drop the name ‘grounded theory’. What do the authors specifally mean with ‘brief case’ thematic coding?  

The authors provide no insight into the way in which they performed the data analysis on a technical level (page 5, line 170-195). Why didn't they use software to support their data analysis (Nvivo, AtlasTi, MaxQDA). Their case-study was substantial enough to make this usefull / necessary for deeper analysis.


Author Response

Dear reviewer, 


We would like to thank you for taking the time to carefully review our manuscript. We considered every single observation made to our work and have discussed to reply them in detail. We have attached our responses to you, so please see the attachment. 


Best regards.  

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 2 Report

Minor point: I wanted to know more about the significance of Chile as a context for this church. Does it have any bearing on the instruction in the church? Would it raise any concern that the results are not generalizable? Or conversely, are there aspects about the particular church or the Chilean context that strengthen the argument for generalizability?

Also, I know that your main goal is not on the efficacy of the instruction, but it would increase the significance of the case study if you could allude to some of the consequences in the community that development of pro-social behavior had. 

Author Response

Dear reviewer, 


We would like to thank you for taking the time to carefully review our manuscript. We considered every single observation made to our work and have cautiously discussed to reply them in detail. We have attached a file where you can find our responses, so please see the attachment. 


Best regards.   

Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Reviewer 3 Report

The paper is interesting and has the potential to offer a meaningful contribution.  However, the manuscript from two significant deficiencies.  Firstly, the manuscript makes too many presumptions. For instance one cannot presume that Protestant Christian communities are as similar as the author infers.  Secondly, the author reaches many conclusions with little by way of supporting evidence.  For instance the charts are extremely detailed, but little evidence is given to support the findings.  

Here are some more specific comments...

1) The paragraph beginning on line 72 and the subsequent paragraph need clarification.  While the author has provided an explanatory footnote, the term "evangelical" is still ambiguous.  I would suggest omitting the term all together and using "Protestant Christianity."  For instance, the author uses terms such as "Christian Evangelical religion", "Evangelical Protestantism", and "Evangelical Tradition."  these have a variety of meanings and are confusing.  

2) The "principle of impartiality" referred to in line 79 should be flushed out and contextualized.  This is not the case for all Protestant communities. 

3) Given the limited cross section of participants (a single community of Pentecostal Methodists), the scope of the paper should be reduced to this community and not extended to Protestant Christianity.  In short, one community is not characteristic of Protestant Christianity.

4) Line 211 should be clarified for instance "The existence of a Trinitarian God who is articulated as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." 

I think the paper has much merit and is extremely interesting, pertinent, and the project is a valuable one.  It should be pursued, but needs some clarification and explanation. 

Author Response

Dear reviewer, 


We would like to thank you for taking the time to carefully review our manuscript. We considered every single observation made to our work and have cautiously discussed to reply them in detail. We have attached a file where you can find our responses, so please see the attachment. 


Best regards.   

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 4 Report

The premise of this paper is interesting and I appreciate the author(s) work to understand this research area. The paper is based on a study that aims to investigate the teaching, learning, encouragement, development and characterization of prosociality in one Chilean church.  For a number of reasons I do not think this paper is ready for publication.  Adding a second or third church for comparison and ethnographic participant observation, increasing the number of research participants (possibly to 50 interviewees), and eliminating the involvement of children in the research would strengthen the data.  Investigate current literature on ethnographic research methods and theory (see Ammerman) for ways to strengthen approach and research methods.  Adding a strong theoretical framework would enrich the thesis.

At present the study examines one evangelical protestant church within a Chilean context.  Research is undertaken over four months with eight visits (how long - what did you do while there) to the church to observe 140 congregation members including 50 children and youth up to age 25, some of them while at Sunday school.  Data collected during this ethnographic research is combined with that collected during six one hour interviews with six sunday school teachers, and a discussion group of 18 that also includes people under the age of 18 (is there overlap with the 6 interviewees).   The author(s) indicate they analyze data collected using thematic coding and grounded theory. 

I have concerns about the methods used and in particular the validity of thematic coding for the following reasons. The involvement of those under the age of 18 raises ethical concerns for me in terms of informed consent.  Equally troubling is the the fact that the sample size of data is particularly small, with a mere 6 one hour interviews in one church.

In terms of grounded theory, the theoretical framework seemed quite weak and the thesis of the paper seemed prescriptive.  I commend the author(s) for their work on the project. 

Author Response

Dear reviewer, 


We would like to thank you for taking the time to carefully review our manuscript. We considered every single observation made to our work and have cautiously discussed to reply them in detail. We have attached a file where you can find our responses, so please see the attachment. 


Best regards.   


Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Round 2

Reviewer 1 Report

My first remarks were mainly of a methodological nature. These have been improved in the revision: description of the religious community, the respondents, the technique of the semantic interview, and the use of software and coding. 

Author Response

Dear Review, 

We would like to thank you for all your feedback and time taken in order to carefully review our manuscript. Without a doubt all your valuable comments have improved the quality of our work and have made it clearer. 

Best regards. 

Reviewer 3 Report

The revisions improve the quality and clarity of the paper.  There are serval grammatical and formatting issues that can be addressed during the editing phase. 

Author Response

Dear Review, 

We would like to thank you for all your feedback and time taken in order to carefully review our manuscript. Without a doubt all your valuable comments have improved the quality of our work and have made it clearer. 

Best regards. 

Reviewer 4 Report

Thank you for the letter explaining the changes that were made to the paper.  Unfortunately, I am not satisfied with the revisions.  I hope the authors might return to the field, expand the study and then be able to step back from the research and develop a stronger theoretical framework for analysis.

Author Response

Dear Review, 

We would like to thank you for all your feedback and time taken in order to carefully review our manuscript. All your valuable comments and suggestions have taken into consideration for the research team and will have in mind for this and further works to come.

Best regards. 

Round 3

Reviewer 4 Report

I appreciate the revisions and efforts made by the authors. My decision on this paper remains unchanged.  Please see earlier comments.  

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