4.13 Peer Review: What Does It Really Mean?

One of the most important differences between scholarly and popular articles is that articles in scholarly journals almost always go through a rigorous peer review process before the article is published. Here are some steps that describe the typical publication process for a scholarly article.

  1. Researcher writes paper; submits completed paper to journal editor for consideration
  2. Editor reviews paper, sends out to subject experts for critical peer-review
  3. Peer-reviewers submit feedback, corrections, recommendations to publish or reject to editor
  4. Editor reviews and submits recommendations to researcher
  5. Researcher makes corrections and resubmits to editor
  6. Editor reviews and accepts corrected article for publication
  7. Researcher’s article is published, sharing research ideas with others
  8. The scholarly conversation continues; readers use and comment on the article in their own scholarly works


Peer review process

As depicted in the graphic above, the peer review process involves subject experts who read and critique research articles to verify that the content is accurate, timely, well-written, and likely to make an important contribution to the subject. Peer reviewers often make detailed criticisms or suggestions for improving the paper. Only after the author has addressed all these points successfully will the paper be published. If the author doesn’t make the corrections to the satisfaction of the reviewers and journal editors, the paper is rejected and not published.

Why all this work? Scholarly papers are published to advance knowledge in a discipline through scholarly conversation. Readers will learn and potentially use the published paper in their own scholarly creations, which in turn will need to undergo peer review before acceptance for publication. Research, writing, and rigorous peer review take time. There is a very high standard set for the publication of scholarly articles.


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