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The review process

Once journals receive a submission, an editor (sometimes called a managing editor) will make an initial assessment as to whether the submitted article meets basic criteria, such as whether it is within the topic area the journal covers, is presented in a suitable academic format, is coherent and consistent in terms of referencing. If the submitted article meets these basic criteria, the editor will then seek out suitable reviewers, or referees. If the journal is a 'refereed' journal, then there must be at least one reviewer. Usually, journals send articles to two reviewers.

The article will be sent blind: that means your name and details will be removed from the text. This ensures that the reviewer or referee makes a judgment about the article based on its content, not on the reputation or previous work of the author. You, as the author of an article, will also not know who has reviewed your work. (This process is sometimes referred to as a 'double-blind' review.)

The next step in the process is that the reviewers will write a report on the submitted article indicating whether it is suitable for publication, and whether it needs any revision prior to publication. In some cases an article will be rejected by one or both reviewers outright - this means that the reviewers think that even with extensive revision the article does not have merit.

Whatever suggestion the reviewers make, the journal should send you a clear statement as to whether your article has been accepted by the journal or not, with copies, or a paraphrase of the reviewers' reports or comments - this is not simply to 'justify' their decision to you, but to give you feedback on how the article could be improved. If the article is 'accepted' by the referees with revisions, you will need to follow the reviewers' suggestions closely.

Even if your article is rejected, you should read the reviewers' comments closely. They should not be seen as a 'personal' attack on you or your research (although you may feel like you have been attacked unfairly).

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