How Does the Peer Review Process Work?

Peers in a peer review process are the field experts. When such experts or reviewers analyze a manuscript to decide whether it is fit for publication in a particular journal, it is called the peer review process. Different journals have different peer review policies, depending on which at least two reviewers review a manuscript in at least two rounds.


Initial Check

The author of a manuscript submits it to a journal either through its submission website or by mail. The next process is done either automatically or manually. An editorial production assistant, who could be a human or software, checks the quality of the manuscript to verify whether the manuscript is appropriately formatted according to the journal guidelines or not and has all the necessary components or not. For revisions and resubmissions, manuscripts might be returned to the authors at this stage.


Preliminary Editorial Review

If a manuscript qualifies for the initial check, a managing editor is assigned to it, who decides whether to send it for peer review after performing a preliminary review. A manuscript can be rejected at this stage if it does not meet the aims and scope of the journal, if its quality does not match that of the journal, or if it does not have novel findings.

Preliminary Peer Review

Generally, there are 2-4 peer reviewers at this stage. The journal invites peer reviewers of the respective fields of the manuscript. Only when a reviewer accepts the invitation, s/he get access to the draft. After going through the manuscript, the peer reviewers write a peer review report and suggest to the editor regarding the publication priority.


Reviewers have four suggestions for a manuscript, namely:

  • Accept without revisions
  • Minor revisions
  • Major revisions
  • Reject


Some journals also ask reviewers to score manuscripts in numbers. Apart from the peer review report, reviewers also send confidential comments to editors not to be shared with authors. Then the report and the comments are reviewed by the managing editor. If s/he is not satisfied with the report, another reviewer is assigned. The peer review report and editor’s comments are sent to the author. Editors’ comments are there to enhance the quality of a manuscript.


Revision and Resubmission

If the authors are asked to revise and resubmit the manuscript, they have to make the changes and resubmit within a given period of time. Along with revising the manuscript, the authors need to prepare a response to the reviewer report that addresses all the comments given by the reviewers and describes how the revisions were made.


After getting the revised manuscript, the managing editor evaluates whether the comments by the reviewers were satisfactorily addressed or not. If yes, the manuscript is accepted and goes into production; if not, the author is again supplied with additional comments and asked to revise and resubmit.


The major issues raised by the reviewers should be addressed for the manuscript to be accepted in one or two revision rounds. If the revisions are sufficient, the manuscript gets accepted, and if not, it may get rejected at this stage as well. Therefore, the reviewer’s comments should be taken seriously.


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