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Scholarly Journal Publishing Guide

Resources for McGill journal editors


The process by which articles will be evaluated is an important part of establishing a journal. 

Journals may decided to have different processes for different sections of the journal. For example, a commentary column may be reviewed only by the editor while a research article may be subjected to an anonymous peer review process. 

This section of the guide outlines the different types of review and provides some sample forms to assist in developing the review process. 

Editorial review

Editorial review is an assessment of an article undertaken by a member of the editorial staff. 

For some sections of the journal, editorial review may be the only assessment taken of an article. This is more often the case for non-research articles such as book reviews, commentary, opinion etc.(although in some journals these sections are peer-reviewed as well).

Editorial review is also a part of the peer-review process. Typically editors will take a first pass at an article to determine if it's worthwhile to send out for peer review. They will typically evaluate if the article is:

  • Within the journal's scope
  • Of sufficient quality to send out to peer review

Peer Review Process

Author submits to journal, may be declined initially. If not it sent to peer review where they will make recommendations. Article may be declined, accepted or undergo additional revisions after this point.

Image credit. © Jessica Lange. Licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 International

For a light read on the perspective of being an editor see:

Looser, D.( 2016, June 25).  How your journal editor works.Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from: 

Peer review

Peer review is the process by which experts in the subject area review and article and provide their feedback. 

Journals typically have between 1-3 reviewers per article depending on the journal's review criteria and the availability of reviewers. 

Journals should establish how they will recruit peer reviewers. For example, will a general call be put out on a listserv? Can anyone volunteer to be a peer reviewer or should there be an application procedure? If there's an application procedure, what's the criteria for acceptance?

Table 1: Different Types of Peer Review

Type of review




Anonymous (Single)* Reviewers know the names of the authors but the authors do not know who are the reviewers. 
  • As the reviewer is anonymous, they may provide feedback without fear of a negative reaction
  • May be able to use information about the author in their assessment
  • Potential bias on the part of the reviewer. Reviewer may evaluate an article on the basis of the author rather than the article itself.
Anonymous (Double)* Reviewers do not know the names of the authors nor do the authors know who are the reviewers. 
  • Reduces potential reviewer bias
  • Provides reviewer anonymity 
  • Reviewer does not have access to information about the author that may assist in completing the review
Open review  Names of both the authors and peer reviewers are available and the review may be made publicly-available. See BMJ.  
  • Improved transparency; the reviewers may take their work more seriously/ refrain from unnecessary negative feedback
  • Reviewers may fear consequences for completing negative reviews

* These terms were formerly referred to as single-blind and double-blind. Anonymous is now the preferred term. 

Source: PKP School, Different Types of Peer Review

Ensuring an anonymous review

If the journal is using an anonymous review process, it should have instructions to editors and authors to properly anonymize a manuscript. This would include:

  • Removing identifying information in the body of the paper
    • e.g. "This study took place at McGill University..." rather, "This study took place at X University..."
  • Removing identifying information from the document's properties
    • For word documents click on File > Save As > Tools (or Options with a Mac) > Security > Remove personal information from file properties on save > Save.
    • With PDFs, the Authors' names should also be removed from Document Properties found under File on Adobe Acrobat's main menu

Forms and guidelines for peer reviewers

Journals will typically provide guidelines for reviewers. This helps the reviews know how they should frame their assessment of the article. Some articles will also provide forms or rubrics for their peer reviewers to fill out. 

See below for several examples:

Providing feedback to authors

In either review scenario (e.g. editorial review or peer review), there is a set of typical language to provide feedback to authors about their article.

Journals can assist their peer reviews by providing their own definitions for recommendation decisions. 

Accept submission

  • Submission is accepted for publication though it still may require copyediting. 

Accept pending revisions (Minor revisions)

  • Submission is accepted for publication pending small revisions being made to the manuscript. 

Revisions required

  • Greater revisions are required. Article is not accepted at this point. Requires further revisions and review before a publication decision can be made. Does not need to be resent to peer review, this process occurs between the editor and the author. 

Resubmit for review (Major revisions)

  • Peer reviewers and/or editor determines the article requires extensive revisions and must undergo the peer review process again. 

Decline submission

  • Article is not suitable for publication in this journal. 

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