Peer review can be traced back to 1752 when the Royal Society of London set up an internal review process for articles submitted to the journal Philosophical Transactions.
Throughout the nineteenth century and until the 1940s, peer review developed in response to increasing specialization in the sciences, with different editors adapting the process haphazardly in various forms.
Since the 1980s, peer review has been the subject of several conferences which have stimulated debate about the benefits and drawbacks of the peer review system.
What is involved in the peer review process?
Journals have different peer review standards and procedures.
Most peer review is double-blind, which means that neither the reviewers nor the authors know each other's identities.
Open review refers to a process in which reviewer's comments and author's replies are openly discussed before formal publication.
For a desciption of the peer-review process used by one medical journal, see: Firlik KS and Firlik AD. The peer-review process of the Journal of Neurosurgery J Neurosurg. 1999 Feb; 90(2):364-370.
The American Political Science Association has a statement on peer review procedures for their journals; see the third paragraph and the longer section entitled "Specific Procedures" for more details.
The American Historical Review describes their peer review process in paragraph six of their Guidelines for Submitting Manuscripts to the AHR.
The International Review of Social Sciences and Humanities uses "single blind peer review".
The Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science uses a double-blind peer review process.