Peer-review is an assessment process used by scholarly journals to ensure high-quality scholarship. The “peers” in peer-review are individuals who have been deemed experts in a field due to their education, studies, and previous positions, and are knowledgeable about the content of the submission. For instance, faculty submission about criminal law would be reviewed by other faculty or high-level researchers with criminal law expertise.
The peer review process typically is as follows:
After being submitted to a journal, an initial, internal review is conducted by the editors to confirm that the submission meets the submission criteria, falls within the scope of work published by the journal, and is substantively sound. Submissions that do not meet the criteria are rejected. Submissions that do meet the criteria are then sent out for peer review.
The selected peer-reviewers will receive a copy of an article and review it. In most cases, the peer-review process is blind, meaning that the peer-reviewers will not know the author’s name or institutional association. This is meant to prevent any bias that could influence the review process. In some cases, the peer-review process will be double-blind, meaning that reviewers will not know the author’s identity and the author will not know the reviewers’ identities.
After reviewing the article, the reviewers will then send a written appraisal of the work along with a decision to the editor. The decisions typically fall within these four options:
The article is accepted
The article is accepted with minor revisions
The article is rejected
The article needs to be revised and resubmitted
A revise and resubmit decision requires major changes to the paper and a further round of peer review.
Once accepted, an article that requires revisions will receive an additional round of internal review. This editorial review stage will involve editors reviewing the changes made in response to peer-reviewers’ suggestions and any other feedback provided by the journal’s editors.
After an article has moved through the review stages and been accepted, it will be cite-checked and copyedited for spelling, grammar, and syntax. The article is then formatted into the typeset used by the journal. This means that a journal’s typical branding and layout will be applied.
The author can review the article’s proofs before publication, and an author or publication agreement with the journal may be signed.
Finally, the article is published in the journal, either on a rolling basis or in a completely new issue.