For academics, the publication of one’s research or theory is the culmination of the research process. Indeed, it is one of the principal means (with teaching and service) by which all academics justify their professional status. Whether through printed books, monographs, and articles in journals or in electronic forms, publication is one of the primary ways that sociologists communicate with their colleagues and the general public about their work.
In order for the publication process to operate in an efficient and ethical fashion, professional organizations have established procedures that govern it. While these may vary somewhat from organization to organization, most involve considerations of authorship credit, rules for the submission and withdrawal of a manuscript, the anonymity of authors and reviewers (at least until the material is published) and the fair application of standards. However, since there are many outlets for publication, authors need to be informed about the many possible variations in rules and procedures.
Sociologists, like many other professionals, adhere to the peer review process as a mechanism for insuring that published works are of high quality and have been carried out with appropriate methods. This implies that individual peers offer their time and expertise to review materials that are submitted by others, with the understanding that other knowledgeable peers will in turn review materials that they may submit. Thus, they may serve both as editors and reviewers as well as authors. Editors and reviewers also have ethical responsibilities, especially with regard to insuring that the publication process is handled fairly and in a timely manner.