Peer review policies

Initial submission

Once submitted via the online system, your manuscript will undergo a standard quality control check, which comprises formatting and plagiarism checks (copies of any papers containing similar or related work under consideration or in press at other journals must be included with the submission). If any issues are identified the editorial team will return your paper to you to make appropriate changes.

After that stage, it will be assigned to a member of our Editorial Board (Editor), who will read the paper and decide whether it is appropriate for the journal. Manuscripts that are within scope and seem, on initial assessment, to be academically sound and valid, will be sent to external reviewers.

Copies of any papers containing similar or related work under consideration or in press at other journals must be included with the submission.

Peer review

During peer review, reviewers will be able to access your manuscript securely using our online system. All peer review is conducted double anonymised (or, double blind).

At the submission stage, authors may indicate a limited number of academics who should not review the paper. Excluded academics must be identified by name. Authors may also suggest potential reviewers, although we reserve the right not to follow them. The reasoning for all reviewer suggestions must be fully explained in a cover letter.

We strive to complete the peer review process in a timely manner; however, this is dependent on the availability of editors and reviewers. As such, no guarantees are made as to the duration of the review process.

Peer review for Collections

Article Collections (or Special Issues) are usually Guest Edited and associated with a call for papers.

All submissions to Collections are subject to the same peer review process and editorial standards as regular submissions, including the journal’s policy on competing interests.

Guest Editors must have no competing interests with the submissions that they handle through the peer review process. 

In instances of a potential or known conflict of interest, Guest Editors are recused from the manuscript handling process, and the relevant submission(s) is handled by another Editorial Board Member. 

Submissions authored by Guest Editors themselves are handled by independent Editorial Board members with no known conflict of interest or connection with the authors. In their own submissions Guest Editors are recommended to state in the acknowledgements section their connection to the journal as outlined in the conflicts section here.

Double-anonymised peer review

This journal uses a double-anonymised peer review. This means authors remain anonymous to the referees throughout the consideration process; and the referees' identities are not revealed to the authors. The authors are responsible for anonymising their manuscript accordingly. These guidelines provide advice on anonymising submissions.

Decision after review

After considering the reviewer reports the Editor will make one of the following decisions:

  • Accept outright;
  • Accept in principle, where authors make some final modifications (often editorial in nature) to prepare the paper for publication;
  • Revise and Resubmit, where authors revise their manuscript to address specific concerns and perhaps undertake additional work;
  • Reject outright.

Revisions

In cases where the referees or Editor has requested changes to the manuscript, you will be invited to prepare a revision. The decision letter will specify a deadline for submission of a revised manuscript (extensions to this deadline may be requested). Once resubmitted, the manuscript may then be sent back to the original referees or to new referees, at the Editor’s discretion.

A revised manuscript should be submitted via the revision link provided in the decision letter, and not as a new manuscript. The revision should also be accompanied by a detailed point-by-point response (rebuttal letter) to the referees explaining how the manuscript has been changed.

Final submission and acceptance

When all editorial issues are resolved, your paper will be formally accepted for publication. The received date stated on the paper will be the date on which the original submission passed our standard quality control checks. The accepted date stated on the paper will be the date on which the Editor sent the acceptance letter.

After acceptance, authors must complete the publishing agreement and article processing payment forms. Once these are received the typesetting process will begin. Authors are subsequently sent proofs of their manuscript for approval, but only changes to the title, author list or major scientific errors will be permitted. All corrections must be approved by the publishing team. If substantive changes are requested by the authors, the Editor reserves the right to move the manuscript back into the peer review stage. The journal reserves the right to make the final decision about matters of style and the size of figures.

We reserve the right to reject a paper even after it has been accepted if it becomes apparent that there are serious problems with its academic content, or our publishing policies have been violated.

Appeals

Even in cases where Humanities and Social Sciences Communications does not invite resubmission of a manuscript, some authors may ask the Editor to reconsider a rejection decision. These are considered appeals, which, by policy, must take second place to the normal workload. In practice, this means that decisions on appeals often take several weeks. Only one appeal is permitted for each manuscript, and appeals can only take place after peer review. 

Decisions are reversed on appeal only if the relevant Edirtor is convinced that the original decision was a serious mistake. Consideration of an appeal is merited if a referee made substantial errors of fact or showed evidence of bias, but only if a reversal of that referee's opinion would have changed the original decision. Similarly, disputes on factual issues need not be resolved unless they were critical to the outcome.

If an appeal merits further consideration, the Editorial Board Member may send the authors' response and the revised paper out for further peer review.

Additional details on the journal's appeals and complaints policies are here.