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Definition: Editorial review

What is an editorial review?

Editorial reviews differ depending on the industry you're working in.

In the academic world: Editorial reviews involve an appointed academic editor evaluating a submitted manuscript.

The editor examines the submission to ascertain whether its subject matter and quality meet the journal’s standards and whether both fit within the scope of material typically covered by that journal.

In book publishing: Editorial reviews are critical reviews of a book by recognized industry experts and professional reviewers (different from customer reviews).

These reviews are then published on various platforms, including as blurbs on the book cover, in acclaimed newspaper columns, and on book review sites.

Although these reviews are different to each other, the basic idea behind them is the same — to provide an expert evaluation of written work which results in an opinion piece being written, or a submission that progresses to eventual publication.

The benefits of editorial reviews

Editorial reviews are highly impactful no matter the industry. They are more than just a 'bureaucratic process'.

Here are three main benefits:

1. They can provide valuable information

Due to the fact that editorial reviews involve an unbiased, expert third-party reviewing the content of a manuscript or published book, these reviews streamline the selection process for academic and research journals by weeding out unsuitable submissions.

What's more, an editorial review often leads to more reviews by other experts; either leading to an 'accepted' or 'rejected' decision on a manuscript.

In the case of editorial book reviews, customers (such as school librarians for children’s books) may read editorial reviews to help them decide whether they purchase a book or not.

These reviews often capture the essence of the story and help readers understand whether or not a book received critical acclaim.

2. They can maintain a publication’s reputation

Many scientific journals only publish a fraction of the submitted manuscripts they receive (for example, The British science journal Nature only publishes about 8% of the 200 submissions they receive each week).

Editorial reviews help publishers maintain the quality of their published work. They help ensure that every submission published is:

  • Original and not published elsewhere
  • Within the scope of the journal’s interest and that of its readers
  • Scientifically relevant
  • Conclusive and impactful in terms of the research findings

3. They can enhance marketing efforts

In the context of publishing, for example, levels of book sales can be impacted by the editorial reviews that book receives.

And, positive editorial reviews can be used for marketing purposes via:

  • Sharing them on social media
  • Adding a quote from the review as a book cover 'blurb'
  • Inclusion in promotional materials like press releases

When to conduct editorial reviews

The timing of editorial reviews depends on the type.

  • Journal editorial reviews happen after submission and before peer reviews.
  • Books can receive editorial reviews shortly before publication or after publication.