Instructions for contributors
Each journal published by Cambridge University Press is unique, pursuing a specific set of editorial aims. We strongly encourage authors to read the Instructions for Contributors document associated with their chosen journal as early as possible during the manuscript preparation process, to ensure full understanding of the journal's audience and scope. This document can be found via the homepage of each journal on Cambridge Core.
The Instructions for Contributors is an excellent place to find guidance on both broad and specific information about a journal. This should be the author's first resource for varied information on a journal's subject area coverage, accepted article types, manuscript style notes, special forms of submissions and specific post-publication author policies.
Authors will increase production and publication efficiency for their manuscript if they read the instructions for their journal carefully and ensure that their submission follows the desired guidelines.
Manuscript preparation guides
Submitting your paper
The Instructions for Contributors document for each journal will explain the process for submitting your paper to that particular title, including guidance on additional information you should include alongside your manuscript.
A growing proportion of our journals now use an online submission system – in most cases ScholarOne Manuscripts™ or Editorial Manager® – to help manage the submission and peer-review process. These systems allow authors to submit and track their paper online, and help us to make sure the editorial process is both efficient and fully accountable.
The peer-review process plays a critical role in both the evaluation and development of scholarly material submitted for publication. Its purpose is to ensure that published papers meet rigorous academic standards, through objective and independent assessment by experts in a given field. Peer review is not simply a filter for acceptance or rejection. For all authors it is an important step in a collaborative editorial process. The ultimate goal is to refine the content and expression of a paper to maximise its contribution to scholarship.
What happens to my paper once I submit it to a journal?
Every journal operates a slightly different review process. Typically, a submitted article will initially be looked at by the journal's editor(s), who will consider its relevance to the scope of the journal, as well as its methodology, the quality of its language and clarity of its argument. The editor(s) will decide whether the submission is suitable to be sent out for review. This process can take 2–3 months for some journals, but can be as quick as a week for others. If you have concerns about the timetable, we encourage you to discuss these with the journal's editor(s).
What happens during the peer-review process?
Your paper will be sent to one or more reviewers who are experts in the field. They will offer comments to support the journal's editor(s) in judging the paper's suitability for publication. In most cases, they will offer you feedback to help you improve your paper.
The objectivity of this process is reinforced by a system of anonymity. The most common types of peer review are: 'single-blind', where you will not know the identity of the reviewers; or 'double-blind', where neither reviewers nor authors know one another's identity. The exact review process and time it takes will vary in different subject areas and journals. You will often find a statement about the exact process in the Instructions for Contributors for each journal.
The editor(s) will make a decision regarding your paper based on the reviewer reports. It is common for an article not to be accepted in first draft and you may be asked to revise and resubmit. Sometimes the revisions requested are minor; other times they may be more substantial. If this happens, you will be given the reviewer reports and, possibly, some additional comments from the editor(s). These should advise you on what you need to revise before submitting a next draft.
What happens to a paper I revise and resubmit?
If you were asked to make minor revisions, usually the editor(s) will check that you have made the necessary revisions before informing you that your paper has been accepted for publication.
If major revisions were suggested, some journals will send the revised paper back to the original reviewers, who will assess whether the paper is now suitable for publication. The editor(s) will then inform you whether the paper is accepted or whether further revisions are necessary.
What happens if my paper is rejected?
If your paper is rejected after peer review, most editors will provide feedback and may still share the comments made by the reviewers in order to help you understand the reasons for the decision, develop your paper or find an alternative publication to which to submit your paper.
Once accepted, your manuscript will be prepared for publication. Many journals will ask their authors to prepare a final version of their manuscript according to the journal's particular style. If you are asked to do this you should follow carefully the guidelines sent to you by the editor and any instructions about how to submit images or other files. At this stage you will usually be asked to sign a form to define copyright terms and declare any conflicts of interest.
Some research funding bodies require authors to deposit their manuscript at this stage – the version defined as the 'Accepted Manuscript' – in an institutional or subject repository. The Press' policies to support authors in meeting these obligations can be found here.