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Instructions for Manuscript Reviewers

Reviewing manuscripts is an important service to the field of Asian studies. We greatly appreciate the time that reviewers spend in evaluating a manuscript.

HJAS uses Editorial Manager (EM), an online manuscript-managing system, to invite, submit, track, and review manuscripts. You must have an EM account in order to review a manuscript for HJAS. To create or access your account, follow the instructions on the HJAS EM home page at

Confidentiality and Conflicts of Interest

We appreciate reviewers’ discretion in keeping confidential the contents of the unpublished manuscript entrusted to them. Reviewers should maintain the spirit of objectivity inherent in the review process. Please avoid making public statements, commentaries, or electronic media posts or comments about a manuscript you have reviewed. We also request that reviewers delete all manuscript files in their possession after they have submitted their review and we have acknowledged receipt of it.

HJAS uses a double-blind review process. That is, we do not reveal the name of the author(s) to reviewers, and we do not reveal the names of reviewers to authors. With rare exceptions (usually in small fields), we prefer that reviewers not know who wrote the manuscript. Nevertheless, we recognize that authors and reviewers may have a professional relationship. 

We strive to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Thus as a matter of policy, we do not ask current colleagues or former teachers or students of the author (or co-author) to review a manuscript. We cannot, however, detect all potential conflicts. Scholars should not agree to review a manuscript for HJAS if they have a close personal relationship with the author (or co-author). If you have any questions about a possible conflict of interest, please contact the Managing Editor.

Article manuscripts are supposed to be under exclusive consideration at HJAS. If you have been asked to review this same manuscript for another journal, please contact the Managing Editor immediately. 

Selection of Peer Reviewers

All our reviewers are scholars with publications in peer-reviewed academic journals. Reviewers for our internal peer-review process are HJAS Editors, Editorial Board members, or Advisory Board members. For those manuscripts recommended for further consideration, we solicit reviewers external to HJAS and (except in rare circumstances) external to Harvard University. External reviewers include at least one specialist on the main topic of the manuscript and may also include a scholar with expertise on an adjacent topic, time period, or place. For revised manuscripts requiring a second round of external review, we may return to a previous reviewer or ask a new reviewer. 

Length of Time for Review

Out of consideration for manuscript authors, we routinely request that reviewers complete their evaluation within one month of accepting our invitation to review the manuscript. We recognize, however, that reviewers have other obligations, that it is difficult to secure reviewers in some fields, and moreover that the pandemic has added to everyone’s work and stress load. Thus, we often allot longer times to review a manuscript. We strive to balance finding the most appropriate expertise with expediting the review process. 

Criteria for Evaluating Manuscripts

When selecting articles for publication, we consider the strength of the scholarship, the quality of the argument, and the clarity of the methodology. Even the most narrowly focused contribution must speak in some way to an academic audience beyond a small community of specialists. The presentation of new factual information alone is not sufficient grounds for publication. 

Citational diversity is a priority for HJAS. Studies show endemic undercitation of the scholarship of women and people of color (see, for example, this Inside Higher Ed op-ed and this annotated bibliography of gender bias in academia from LSE scholars). In that spirit, HJAS asks reviewers to consider whether authors have engaged with all relevant scholarship, including work by women and in Asian languages. 

We ask reviewers to provide the following information in their reader reports:

Overall Recommendation 

Reviewers must select an overall recommendation. 

For a new manuscript submission, internal reviewers are asked to recommend whether it should be declined or sent for external review. External reviewers are asked whether to accept, require minor revisions, require major revisions, or decline. 

For a revised manuscript submission, internal reviewers are asked to recommend whether to accept, require minor revisions, send for further external review, or decline. External reviewers are asked to whether to accept, require minor revisions, or decline. (A second round of major revisions is not allowed.)

Reviewers may also provide a numeric rating (on a scale of 100). 


Reviewers must indicate whether the audience addressed by the manuscript is specialists; both specialists and scholars working in a topic that is “one over” in time period, region, or discipline; or a wide readership across the humanities and humanistic social sciences of East and Inner Asia. 


Reviewers must indicate whether the manuscript’s citations appropriately engage all the relevant scholarship, including work by women and in Asian languages.  

Revisions (Blind Comments to the Author)

Reviewers are requested to provide substantial specific comments on intellectual content, appropriate references to the relevant scholarly literature, organization and style, and audience. We request that reviewers comment on any use of figures, tables, or an appendix, including recommendations for elimination or consolidation. Concerns should be stated explicitly so authors understand the reviewer’s recommendation. Constructive comments for improving the manuscript are especially welcome. 

Suitability (Confidential Comments to the Editor)

Reviewers are requested to evaluate whether the manuscript is suitable for publication in HJAS and to give at least a brief explanation of their evaluation. We request that reviewers specify any revisions that considered essential for publication.