In academia, professional scholars typically make unsolicited submissions of their articles to academic journals. Upon receipt of a submitted article manuscript, the journal editor (or editors) determines whether to reject the submission outright or begin the process of peer review. In the latter case, the submission becomes subject to anonymous peer-review by outside scholars of the editor's choosing. The number of these peer reviewers (or "referees") varies according to each journal's editorial practice — typically, no fewer than two, and usually at least three outside peers review the article. The editor(s) uses the reviewers' opinions in determining whether to publish the article, return it to the author(s) for revision, or to reject it. (This process is discussed in the peer review article). Even accepted articles are subjected to further (sometimes considerable) editing by journal editorial staff before they appear in print. Typically, because the process is lengthy, an accepted article will not be published until months after its initial submission, while publication after a period of several years is not unknown. The peer-review process is considered critical to establishing a reliable body of research and knowledge. Scholars can be expert only in a limited area of their fields; they rely upon peer-reviewed journals to provide reliable, credible research upon which they can build subsequent, related research. Review articles
Review articles, also called "reviews of progress," are checks on the research published in journals. Some journals are devoted entirely to review articles, others contain a few in each issue, but most do not publish review articles. Such reviews often cover the research from the preceding year, some for longer or shorter terms; some are devoted to specific topics, some to general surveys. Some journals are enumerative, listing all significant articles in a given subject; others are selective, including only what they think worthwhile. Yet others are evaluative, judging the state of progress in the subject field. Some journals are published in series, each covering a complete subject field year, or covering specific fields through several years. Unlike original research articles, book reviews tend to be solicited submissions, sometimes planned years in advance. Book review authors are paid a few hundred dollars for reviews, because of this; the standard definitions of open access do not require review articles to be open access, though many are so. They are typically relied upon by students beginning a study in a given field, or for current awareness of those already in the field.