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, at the beginning of 2017, we introduced 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 also increased the referee payment for on-time fast track reports (within one week) to €700 for an initial submission and €350 for a resubmission. In addition, we launched Distinguished Referee awards which are presented at the EFA Annual Meeting each year.

We hope that the following guidelines are helpful for referees.

Publication standard

We have a policy, common across all editors, of 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.

Use of Generative AI Tools

While generative AI technologies offer interesting possibilities, they should not replace your expert opinion or override your personal judgement. We count on reviewers to uphold the journal’s rigorous standards through their own expertise.


It is essential that all manuscript details and your review remain confidential. This extends to not sharing information with any third party, including AI tools such as Large Language Models. Maintaining confidentiality is crucial both during and after the review process.

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.

Report deadlines

We always aim to provide authors with a decision in a timely manner, and thus financially incentivise on-time reports. However, we recognise that it may not always be possible for a referee to provide their report on time due to other commitments. Referees are therefore able to select a longer deadline for their report at the time they accept an assignment. Doing so lets the editor know that the report will be late, but does not affect the payment deadline, which remains the date that was originally requested.

Report payments

For regular submissions and resubmissions, the Editorial Office aims to process all payments during the calendar month following the month in which the editorial decision is given. For instance, if the editorial decision is made in January, the referee will usually be paid in February. Please note that this time frame is not guaranteed, and payments may occasionally be delayed.

For fast track submissions and resubmissions, the Editorial Office will aim to process referee payments as soon as possible following an on-time report being submitted.

The Editorial Managers will contact referees directly to organise payment.

Please be aware that the latest date that payment can be made for a referee report is 12 months after the date the relevant manuscript’s decision was rendered, unless it can be demonstrated that you were never contacted requesting payment information, or that an error in completing the payment was made on our side. Therefore, if you have not been contacted regarding your report payment within two months of a decision being given on a manuscript you have reviewed (and you believe payment is due), please check your spam folder in the first instance, and then contact the editorial office.

Please note that if you provide incorrect or incomplete payment details and the payment is returned to us, any fee charged will be deducted from the total when we re-process the payment.

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