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Journal Reviewer Guide

This guide will aid journal reviewers in understanding the review process, what may be expected from a reviewer, and some resources for writing a good review.

Journal Article Review Process

This guide will be beneficial to anyone new to or wanting to learn more about journal peer reviews.  The guide covers the basics of journal peer reviews, an overview of the types of reviews, and the typical workflow for journal peer reviews.  All links in the guide open in new tabs.

While we do not know the exact date the first article review was ever conducted, we do know that over 300 years ago a journal, The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, formalized an official review process.  Please watch this 3 minute intro to peer review video by North Carolina State University for a short introduction to peer-review.


When evaluating research articles, the top three questions asked by reviewers were:

  1. Methodology: is the study sound and can it be replicated?
  2. Errors: does the research presented have errors or miscalculations?
  3. Conclusion: does the research presented match what the author is summarizing?

The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) has produced a handbook of Best Practices for Peer Review to layout a set of best practices comprising the peer-review process.  While this handbook was produced for university presses it contains valuable information about why this is an important process and details of the rigorous process of peer review.

Local Library Resources:

Types of reviews:

  • Non-Anonymous: Neither the author(s) nor the reviewer(s) are kept unknown from the other party.  Reviewer information is usually not made public.
  • Single-Anonymous: The reviewer(s) knows who authored the paper that they are reviewing, but the author(s) is not made aware of who are their reviewer(s).  Reviewer information is usually not made public.
  • Double-Anonymous: The author(s) is not made aware of are their reviewer(s).  The reviewer(s) is not made aware of who authored the article until after publication of the content.  Reviewer information is usually not made public.
  • Open:  Both the author(s) and the reviewer(s) are made aware of the other’s information.  The reviewer(s) information along with their associated review is often made publicly available upon publication with the article’s record.
  • Commentary:  Both the author(s) and the reviewer(s) are made aware of the other’s information.  The reviewer(s) information along with their associated review is made publicly available within the content of the article.  This is usually an ongoing review process with no end date.


Below is a list of resources, written by other universities, on journal article reviews and critical reviews for various fields:

This page by the Academic Skills & Learning Centre at the Australian National University has a list of questions to help you read the article, and suggestions for writing the review.

This resource comes from Duke University's Writing Studio. While the guide was originally written for the field of biology, the suggestions work for all Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion (IMRD) journal articles.

This is a page from the library at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a step-by-step guide to thinking through a journal article review and discusses the different ways you can write it up.

This page from the Stauffer Humanities and Social Sciences Library at Queens University focuses on creating an appropriate thesis for your review. 

The information in this handout comes originally from a research guide written by Herbert T. Coutts at the University of Alberta. It has guidelines and suggestions for writing a critical review, and includes references for further study. The handout has been made available by Dr. Michael Genzuk, a professor for the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.

Many journal articles go through a standard review process workflow. The following is the basic journal article review workflow for all review types with the exception of commentary. With Commentary Reviews the article is published right after acceptance of the article by the editor and then the article is continually reviewed in a public view setting. Open Reviews will have an additional step of having the review published in a public view setting alongside the article publication.



Review Process

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