Getting Started with Research: The Peer Review Process
The peer review process helps a journal maintain a good standard of research. When you submit a research article to a journal, it will be sent to a relevant expert for feedback. Different journals will use different types of peer review:
- Single blind: you do not know who the reviewer is but they know who you are
- Double blind: neither you or the research know who each other are. The journal will take steps to anonymise your article so you cannot be identified.
- Open review: Both you and the reviewer know who each other are. Different people may use the term 'open review' to mean slightly different things, so be careful when you see this used.
- Post-publication: The reviewers comments are made publicly available after your article is published. Sometimes the non-peer reviewed article is published online and volunteers are invited review the work. There is typically some restrictions on who can be a reviewer.
Journals should discuss their peer review process on their website. It should be found in their submission details or sometimes on their about page.
There are pros and cons to each type of peer review. Blind peer review can remove biases that the reviewer may have but it is felt that reviewers can often be overly critical. With open review, the reviewers often give more polite and constructive feedback. Post-publication review allows the reviewers to receive credit for their work and it can provide greater engagement in an article.
After reviewing your article you there are three outcomes:
- Rejected: The reviewer did not think your work was fit for publication
- Accepted with major changes: You will need to make some big changes before being published. Your work may need to be sent back to peer review again before publication
- Accepted with minor changes: If you make the suggested changes, your work can be published. It usually won't need to be sent back to peer review.
Don't be discouraged with the changes suggested by the peer reviewer. The aim of peer review is to make sure the work is of a high standard. By using these suggestions you are creating the best version of your article. If your article was rejected look at the feedback you were provided and check to see if you met the author guidelines for the journal. You might have go back and rewrite your article.