How to...
Understand the peer review process

The peer review process followed depends on the channel the author chooses for their research. We highlight the two models used by our journals, cases, and open research platform.

The peer review process

Download and keep your step-by-step guide (PDF), or view the accessible version of the flowchart below.

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Peer review process chart

Peer review process 


1. The editor rejects the submission if it doesn’t meet the journal’s editorial objectives. 

2. The editor selects up to three reviewers and asks them to evaluate the manuscript against a set of criteria. 

3. The editor receives the reviewers’ recommendations.

4. The editor makes the final decision, taking into account the reviewers’ recommendations. Go to 5 if accepted, 6 if rejected, or 7 if revisions are required.


5. The editor notifies the author that their paper has been accepted > Publish


6. The editor notifies the author that their paper has been rejected and shares a copy of the reviewers’ comments > Reject


7. The editor notifies the author that their paper requires revisions and shares a copy of the reviewers’ comments.

8. The author resubmits their revised paper.

9. The editor can either make a decision based on the revised paper or send the revised paper to the same reviewers. Go to 3.

Peer review models

Single-anonymous peer review

The names of the reviewers are hidden from the author. However, the name of the author is shared with the reviewers.

The fact that reviewers remain anonymous means they can speak honestly and impartially. Meanwhile, knowledge of an author’s identity can help reviewers place an article in the context of the author’s earlier work.

Double-anonymous peer review

The reviewers aren’t told the name of the author, and the author never learns the names of the reviewers.

Outside of the triple-anonymous model (see below), this is the surest way to ensure that the process is completely objective.

The focus remains on the content of the article, and the possibility of reviewer bias is eliminated. Reviewer bias may be favourable or unfavourable, conscious or unconscious.

Triple-anonymous peer review

The identities of the author, reviewers and editors remain hidden from each other. The author is usually identified only by a number and communication takes place through a website or submission system. This eliminates any potential bias.

Open peer review

This can vary in form. It may be as simple as making the author and reviewers known to one another, or the reviews – and the reviewers’ names – may be published alongside the article. The review process may take place pre- or post-publication, and reports may receive their own DOIs, making them discoverable and citable.

This offers complete transparency. Some believe that the knowledge that reports are going to be published encourages reviewers to produce higher-quality reports overall. The post-publication format publicly recognises the important work of the reviewers.

Our approach to article peer review

The majority of our journals have adopted a double-anonymous peer review model, with reviewers invited by the journal editor.

Some Emerald journals have also been experimenting with an article transfer, or cascading, service. If the editor decides to decline the manuscript, either before or after peer review, they may offer to transfer it to a more relevant Emerald journal in the same field. If the author accepts that offer, any reviews that have already taken place are transferred to the new journal, along with the manuscript.

Quality peer review is constructive, non-confrontational and prompt. It means putting yourself in the position of the author and helping them to bring out the best in their paper.

Anne-Wil Harzing – Professor of International Management at Middlesex University, London

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