Referees are essential to the success of the Review of Finance. We are grateful for the substantial time and expertise that referees put into reviewing papers. In recognition, we are introducing a referee payment for on-time reports (within four weeks) of €150 plus a €100 credit off a future (regular or fast-track) submission. We are also increasing the referee payment for on-time fast-track reports (within one week) to €700 for an initial submission and €350 for a resubmission. We are also launching Best Referee awards which will be presented at the EFA Annual Meeting each year.

We hope that the following guidelines are helpful for referees.

  • Publication standard
    • We have a common policy, across all editors, as applying the same standards as a top-three finance journal. The following text (or a variant thereof) is included in the invitation letter to referees: “Please apply a similar standard to what you would apply to the top-three finance journals. Because we receive a very large number of manuscripts, we are interested in publishing only papers that make a substantial contribution to knowledge that is of interest to a general finance audience.  Competent useful extensions and qualifications of previous work, or analyses of narrower questions, are best left to specialized journals.”
    • Thus, please only recommend revision if you believe the paper meets a top-three standard
  • Author primacy 
    • The following text is included in the invitation letter to referees: “If you believe the paper crosses the top-three bar and are recommending revision, please stratify your comments into (1) major concerns that the authors need to address for you to recommend publication, and (2) suggestions that you think will improve the paper but give the authors discretion as to whether to incorporate them. Our policy is to reach an accept/reject decision at the second round. Therefore, any concerns have to be raised upfront and not in later rounds.”
    • In other words, we ask referees to stratify scientifically convincing arguments for why a paper is unpublishable in its current form from suggestions. Ultimately, we recognize that the authors are responsible for the paper.
    • For further details, please see Berk, Harvey, and Hirshleifer (JEP forthcoming): “How to Write an Effective Referee Report and Improve the Scientific Review Process” and Spiegel (RFS 2012): “Reviewing Less, Progressing More
  • Number of revision rounds
    • Our goal is to reach a decision on a manuscript at the second round. For manuscripts that are given an initial “revise-and-resubmit”, we aim to either give a rejection, acceptance, or conditional acceptance, at the second round. This is to minimize cases in which authors are put through several rounds of revision, and – related to the above – also to recognize that the authors are the owners of the paper, not the referees.
    • There will be (hopefully rare) cases in which authors will have not been fully responsive to concerns raised by the referees in the first round and the paper remains scientifically inaccurate. In most such cases, a second-round decision would likely result in a rejection.  In rare cases, we may send the paper to a third round to give the authors one final chance to respond to the concerns.
    • If a referee raises new concerns in the second round that were not raised in the first round (and do not relate to changes in the paper between rounds), we will likely ignore those concerns. 
  • Referee checklist
    • Berk, Harvey, and Hirshleifer have provided a very useful Checklist For Reviewing A Paper which we encourage referees to follow (as do other top journals). Many of our Editors, despite being experienced referees, learned a lot from reading these guidelines and have changed our own refereeing accordingly
  • Referee database
    • The Editorial Express database has an option for Editors to grade referees; however, to date it has not been used systematically. We have changed the editorial policy to require Editors to grade referees and provide comments before they can render a decision. We hope that this will create a comprehensive database of referee quality (in addition to speed, which is automatically tracked). This will helping ensure that we use the highest-quality reviewers for authors, and guide referee awards and future additions to the Editorial Board.