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The peer review process


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Brief tutorial about the peer review process, tips and do nots. By Andrea Hajek, Academic Editor.

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The peer review process

  1. 1. The peer review process Revising journal articles in an effective way Andrea Hajek, PhD Your Editing Alternative
  2. 2. 1. Getting it right: anticipating your peer reviewers • your submission is usually sent to a minimum of two scholars in your discipline • the reviewers will assess the quality of your article, and at times also its suitability for publication in the journal • their feedback will eventually form the basis of the editor’s decision: accept, minor revisions, major revision, revise and resubmit, or reject
  3. 3. A few tips • know the (big) names in your field, read their work, and make references to them where appropriate (ideally to articles published in the same journal) • take a look at the editorial board: peer reviewers are often selected from there • don’t write a literature review: the reviewers will be familiar with your research area, and they will be more interested in seeing you challenge existing theories, apply them to new case studies or engage in current debates
  4. 4. 2. Patience is the magic word • the peer review process is a long process, so calculate several months between submission and decision • don’t hesitate, though, to ask for an update if the process prolongs: sometimes journal editors struggle to find reviewers, as it has become extremely difficult to find reviewers who have time to spare • just remember not to stalk editors (or their assistants), and always show due respect
  5. 5. 3. Dealing with criticism • peer review reports can be painful, but they are usually helpful, so put your pride aside and try to learn from them • As Deborah Lupton writes in her article on revising journal articles: “See the revision process as a way to make your work the best it can be, and a challenge to push yourself to improve it” • this doesn’t mean that you must always, and a- critically, follow the peer reviewer’s suggestions: it is fine to disagree (politely), as long as you can motivate your choices
  6. 6. 4. Responding to reviewers • never offend peer reviewers or dismiss their opinion entirely: it won’t get you anywhere and you will not make a good impression with the journal editors • always carefully reflect upon the reviewer’s comments, then copy & paste them in to a separate document, and at the end of the revision, write your responses under each separate point as you go, explaining the changes you’ve made > the more detailed your response letter is, the better!
  7. 7. 5. Knowing when to stop • when you receive rejection after rejection, it may be best to consider a different journal, or to take some time off from writing articles • it could be that your line of research does not fit with the genre/scope of the journal, or that it gives ‘preference’ over a specific theoretical line of thought that does not coincide with your research
  8. 8. A few more tips • always read the journal’s submission guidelines carefully, and make sure the manuscript is formatted according to these • if you’re unsure about these or other issues, just write to the editor (or editorial assistant) • make sure the article is written in good academic English, and that it doesn’t contain typos or missing words • don’t use track changes to mark your revisions, as they can make the article unreadable: rather, highlight changes with bold or coloured highlighting
  9. 9. Further reading • LSE blog article on 15 steps to revising journal articles, by Deborah Lupton • LSE blog article on How to increase your likelihood of publishing in peer reviewed journals by Hugh McLaughlin • Sage Research Methods video on How to get published
  10. 10. Want help? I’m the Managing Editor of a prestigious, interdisciplinary and peer-reviewed journal, and I have also published a lot myself (and yes this means I’ve had articles rejected, alas). Visit my website to find out what services I offer: