Peer Review Process

Research articles, academic essays and pedagogical notes/essays submitted to Japan Studies Association Journal are subject to a double-blind peer review. Before a submission finds its way to two independent readers, both possessing appropriate scholarly expertise and/or skill sets, it undergoes an initial screening by JSAJ’s Editor, who needs to ensure that the manuscript’s content and language, organization and referencing meet adequate scholarly standards. Below is a more detailed description of JSAJ’s review process, each step accompanied by an approximate timeline.

Preliminary screening

Upon receiving a manuscript and sending the author an acknowledging e-mail, JSAJ’s Editor reviews the submission to determine if it meets minimum scholarly criteria and identify two independent peer reviewers with suitable scholarly expertise. If a manuscript is returned to the author at this time, it is most likely due to insufficient originality in approaching or handling the subject matter, poor grammar or syntax, language use or problems with referencing. A manuscript’s preliminary screening takes between ten-fourteen days.

Double-blind peer review

Once the Editor matches a manuscript’s research objectives and subject matter with two independent experts in the field, she sends the article or essay’s abstract to them. Both author’s and readers’ anonymity is strictly preserved. It normally takes a few days for a reader to accept or decline the task. Though peer reviewers provide a valued service to the profession, academics’ schedules sometimes prevent them from accepting a manuscript to review. When the readers accept the task, it typically takes them between four-six weeks to complete their report and offer a recommendation.

Readers’ reports tend to offer one of the following four recommendations:

  • Accept manuscript and publish as is (no revisions required): the manuscript proceeds to the copy-editing stage;
  • Accept and publish pending minor revisions (suggestions follow): JSAJ’s Editor overseas the minor revisions, upon whose completion the manuscript proceeds to the copy-editing stage;
  • Revise manuscript and resubmit (a major revision is required): though JSAJ’s Editor overseas the revision, the manuscript will be sent back to one or both readers for a second round of reviews;
  • Reject manuscript.

The most frequent outcomes of the double-blind peer review tend to be “publish pending minor revisions” and “revise and resubmit.” The specific feedback that reviewers provide aims to be constructive: to strengthen an author’s argument, identify particular strengths or alert the writer to glaring gaps or inconsistencies. Reviewers might comment on language or referencing issues but they will not edit the manuscript. It is important to recognize that the final decision to accept a manuscript for publication, and the number of revisions required, rests with JSAJ’s Editor. 

Manuscript revision process

Once JSAJ’s Editor receives the independent peer reviewers’ reports, these get collated and forwarded to the author. Depending on the extent of revision required, the author might have between two weeks and two months to work on the manuscript. If a revision requires more than three months, it is unlikely that the manuscript would appear in the originally intended journal volume. Alternatively, if an author is able to complete the necessary revision quickly, the article or essay will appear in the volume’s “early release” section, available to readers before the volume’s production process is finalized.

Given the above description, JSAJ’s review process takes between eight and sixteen weeks.