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How to Review Articles

Peer review is essential for filtering out poor quality articles by assessing the validity and integrity of the research. We value the work done by peer reviewers in the academic community, who facilitate the process of publication and drive research within their fields of expertise. Please visit the Reviewer Rewards page to learn more about discounts and free journal access offered to reviewers of articles for SAGE journals.

If you are an inexperienced or first-time reviewer, the peer review process may seem daunting. In fact, peer review can be a very rewarding process that allows you to contribute to the development of your field and hone your own research and writing skills. The resources below will explain what peer review involves and help you to write useful reviews.

On this page, you will find:

How to become a reviewer

Once you are registered as a reviewer, the editors will send you an invitation to review whenever a manuscript in your area of expertise is submitted. We understand that our reviewers are busy, so it won’t always be possible for you to accept an invitation to review. In order to avoid delays, please let us know as soon as possible if you are unable to accept an invitation to review or if a problem arises after the invitation has been accepted. If you are unable to review a manuscript, we appreciate if you can recommend an alternative reviewer.

Things to consider before you begin a review

  • Timing
    Inform the editor immediately if you will not be able to meet the deadline.
  • Suitability
    Do you have any reason why you should not review the submission? If in doubt, check with the journal’s editor. Learn more about your ethical responsibilities as a reviewer.
  • Individual Journal Reviewer Guidelines
    Some journals ask reviewers to answer specific questions, so check what is expected before beginning your review. 
  • Confidentiality
    You must not share the content of a paper you have been invited to review, unless you have permission from the journal’s editor. If you suspect that author misconduct has taken place, only discuss this with the editor. 
  • Co-reviewing
    Inform the journal editor if you wish to collaborate on a review with a colleague or student. See the Ethics and Responsibility page for further instructions on this.

You may also wish to refer to COPE’s guide on what to consider when asked to peer review a manuscript before beginning a review.

What to include in a review

Watch our short video, How to conduct a peer review, for a step-by-step walkthrough of the review process. Alternatively, you can download our Reviewer's Guide for written instructions on how to assess a manuscript and what to include in a review.

Making your recommendation

In addition to your review comments, you will likely be expected to select an overall recommendation to the editor. SAGE’s most common recommendation types are:

Accept: No further revision required. The manuscript is publishable in its current form.

The majority of articles require revision before reaching this stage.

Minor Revision: The paper is mostly sound but will be sent back to the authors for minor corrections and clarifications such as the addition of minor citations or the tweaking of arguments.

These revisions should not involve any major changes. However, changes should be clearly marked for the attention of the previous reviewers. The paper may be subject to re-review.

Major Revision: The principle of the article is sound and it has a chance of being accepted but requires substantial change to be made. This may include further experiments or analysis, the inclusion of additional literature or theory, or an improvement of arguments and conclusions. The authors are required to submit a point-by-point response to the reviewers and the paper will be subject to a re-review. 

If issues of quality, novelty and/or contribution* cannot be addressed through revision, the reviewer should recommend rejection rather than revision. Editors withhold the right to reject the paper should revisions be insufficient.

Reject: The manuscript is of insufficient quality, novelty or significance to warrant publication.

Even when recommending rejection, the reviewer is encouraged to share their suggestions for improvement in the Comments to the Authors field.

If you would like to give us feedback on your experience of reviewing for a SAGE journal to help us to improve our systems, please contact

*Check the journal Aims and Scope for any specific requirements with regard to levels of novelty and/or contribution.

Learn more with Publons' free peer review course

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SAGE is pleased to recommend the Publons Academy. The Academy is a free-of-charge, formal training course providing researchers with the skills, connections and experience required to become an expert peer reviewer. The course includes:
- 10 learning modules covering everything you need to know to write reviews
- Practical experience of writing reviews
- Access to a mentor who will provide feedback on your reviews
- A certificate and badge on your Publons profile on completion of the course