Peer Review Process
Peer review is the assessment of your research paper by experts in your field. Its purpose is to evaluate the manuscript’s quality and suitability for publication.
As well as being a form of quality control for academic journals, peer review is also a very useful source of feedback, helping you to improve your paper before it is published. At its best, review is a collaborative process, where authors engage in a dialogue with their peers and receive constructive support to advance their work. The peer review process that is adopted for the Journal of Community Research is as follows:
Step 1: Editor Assessment
When your manuscript arrives to the journal’s editorial team it will receive an initial desk assessment by the journal’s editor. They will check that it’s broadly suitable for the journal, asking questions such as:
- Is this the right journal for this article?
- Does the paper cover a suitable topic according to the journal’s aims and scope?
- Has the author followed the journal’s guidelines?
- Does the paper conform to the basic requirements of the journal, such as word count, language clarity, and format?
- Has the author included everything that is needed for peer review? They will check that there is an abstract, author affiliation details, any figures, appendices etc
If your article doesn’t pass these initial checks the editor might reject the article immediately. Otherwise it will move to the next stage, and into peer review.
Step 2: First Stage of Peer Review
The editor will then find and contact other researchers who are experts in your field, asking them to review the paper. A minimum of two reviewers is required for every article and they will be asked to read and comment on your article.
So, what are they looking for? This depends on the subject area, but they will be checking that:
- Your work is original or new;
- The study design and methodology are appropriate and described so that others could replicate what you have done;
- You have engaged with relevant and current research
- The results are appropriately and clearly presented;
- Your conclusions are reliable, significant, and supported by the research;
- The paper fits the scope of the journal;
- The work is of a high enough standard to be published in the journal.
Once the editor has received and considered the reviewer reports, as well as making their own assessment of your work, they will let you know their decision. The reviewer reports will be shared with you along with any additional guidance from the editor.
If you get a straight acceptance, congratulations, your article is ready to move to publication. Note however, that this isn’t common. Very often, you will need to revise your article and resubmit. A rejection may be appealed (see FAQs on appeals) if the authors are not satisfied that the article was rejected for valid reasons.
Step 3: Revise and resubmit
It is very common for the editor and reviewers to have suggestions about how you can improve your paper before it is ready to be published. They might have only a few straightforward recommendations (‘minor amendments’) or require more substantial changes before your paper will be accepted for publication (‘major amendments’).
Authors will receive anonymous feedback from their reviewers together with a publication decision made by an editor, which is guided by reviewers’ comments. Articles requiring major revisions can also be re-submitted. The resubmitted article will then be evaluated by an editor and in most cases will be presented for a further round of peer review, preferably by the original reviewers.
Resubmission of an article with minor or major revisions does not guarantee that the article will be accepted for publication in the journal. Final publication decisions are made by the editors of the journal.
During this next stage of the process you therefore have time to amend your article based on the reviewers’ comments, resubmitting it with any or all changes made and providing a supporting document listing a summary of all the changes you have made and how you have responded to reviewers comments.
Once you resubmit your manuscript the editor will look through the revisions. They will often send it out for a second round of peer review, asking the reviewers to assess how you’ve responded to their comments.
After this, you may then be asked to make further revisions, or the paper might be rejected if the editor thinks that the changes you have made are not adequate. However, if your revisions have now brought the paper up to the standard required by that journal, it then moves to the next stage.
Step 4: Accepted
And that’s it, you’ve made it through peer review. The next step is publication which is a process that will be led by the editorial team. They will communicate with you before your paper is published for a final proof-reading exercise and then will contact you again to confirm publication of your paper.