What is peer review, and what do you need to know as an author?
Step 1: Editor assessment
Peer review follows a number of stages, beginning with submitting your article to a journal. At this first stage, the journal editor will decide if it’s suitable for the journal, asking questions such as:
- Has the author followed the journal’s guidelines?
- Is this the right journal for this article?
- Will the journal’s readers find it interesting and useful?
The editor might reject the article immediately, but otherwise it will move to the next stage, and into peer review.
Step 2: First round of peer review
The editor will find and contact two or three other researchers or academics who are experts in your field. They will be asked to read your article, and advise the editor whether to publish your paper in that journal.
So what are they looking for? This depends on the subject area, but they will be checking:
- your work is original or new;
- your study design and methodology are appropriate and described so that others could replicate what you’ve done;
- you’ve presented your results clearly and appropriately;
- your conclusions are reliable and significant;
- the work is of a high enough standard to be published in the journal.
“There’s no doubt that as an editor, when you first get a submission, what you’re doing is two things: at one level you’re simply filtering, so a fairly small proportion (we’re probably only talking about 20, 25%) do not get sent out by me for review. That’s because they fall into one of a number of categories. Sometimes they simply fall outside the scope of the journal.”
Professor Michael Reiss, Founding Editor of Sex Education
You’ll then be given feedback about your article, telling you if any changes need to be made before it can be published. Our authors tell us that the reviewers’ comments can be extremely helpful, ensuring that the article is of a high quality. Please note the final editorial decision on a paper and the choice of who to invite to review is always at the editor’s discretion.
Step 3: Revise and resubmit
You can then amend your article based on the reviewers’ comments, resubmitting it with any or all changes made. You may be asked to make further revisions or the paper may be rejected if the editor thinks that the revisions you have made are not adequate.
Step 4: Accepted
And that’s it, you’ve made it through peer review. Next stop is production.
Peer review integrity
Every research article published in a Taylor & Francis journal has been through peer review as outlined in the journal’s aims and scope information; its quality, validity, and relevance assessed by independent peers within the relevant field. We believe in the integrity of peer review, with every journal we publish ascribing to the following statement:
All published research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening, anonymous refereeing by independent expert referees, and consequent revision by article authors when required. The published article constitutes the final, definitive, and citable Version of Scholarly Record.
Find out more about peer review in this guide from Sense about Science.