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Editorial Policies

Peer Review Process

For individual submissions, the Editors make an initial appraisal of each manuscript. If the topic and treatment seem potentially appropriate for the journal, the manuscript is assigned to a managing editor, or to a member of the editorial board, who organizes and oversees the review process. Once the review process has been completed,  the managing editor recommends acceptance, revision, or rejection of your manuscript. The final decision is made by the Editor-in-Chief.

Authors are permitted to suggest up to three potential peer reviewers during the submission process. The journal does not guarantee to use these suggestions. All reviewers must be independent from the submission and will be asked to declare all competing interests.

For research papers pertaining to a special feature, the guest-editors are responsible for setting up and carrying out the review process. After completion of the review process, they will issue an editorial advice. Also in this case, the Editor-in-Chief is responsible for the final decision.

If granted the opportunity to revise a manuscript based on the reviews, authors are requested to resubmit their revisions within eight weeks after receiving the notification with the editorial decision. They are asked to then also submit a letter (as attachment to the notify editor e-mail) with a detailed description of how they have responded to the separate issues raised by the reviewers.

We apply a double blind peer review, meaning that the author's name and affiliation are not made public to the referee. The referee's name and affiliation are also not revealed to the author. We always seek to mobilize a minimum of three independent reviews. In case of a significant discrepancy, the managing or guest-editor will consult with the Editor-in-Chief, in order to take a final editorial decision.

Review requests are sent to peers that are qualified to issue an assessment in terms of the relevance of their theoretical, methodological, thematic and/or geographic expertise. IJC has an extended reviewer database that is used for the identification of suitable reviewers. In addition, we will approach peers who are not (yet) registered. We aim for the inclusion of minimally one editorial board member in the set of reviewers.

Desk-rejects will be motivated, but can unfortunately not go accompanied by an extended argumentation. A rejection based on the outcome of a review process will be backed up by the actual reviews, and a motivation by the editor. 

Members of the editorial team/board are permitted to submit their own papers to the journal. In cases where an author is associated with the journal, they will be removed from all editorial tasks for that paper and another member of the team will be assigned responsibility for overseeing peer review. A competing interest must also be declared within the submission and any resulting publication.

We work hard to make this process as fast and efficient as possible, but depend on the voluntary input delivered by reviewers who are typically dealing with an above-average workload. A decision on the manuscript generally may be expected within 2 months of submission; delays in obtaining reviews may prolong this process. Manuscripts are sent out for review electronically, and all correspondence takes place via e-mail. Although the peer review process is accelerated by the use of electronic communication, traditional high-quality, peer-review standards are applied to all manuscripts submitted to the International Journal of the Commons.

Special features will be introduced by an editorial piece by the guest editor(s). These editorials are not subject to review. The Editor-in-Chief is responsible for the decision to publish an editorial.

We will communicate with reviewers via our online journal management platform, OJS. Reviewers are expected to use OJS also for uploading their reviews, and sharing their decision. They can also contact the editors in case they experience problems in using OJS.

Reviewers are asked to submit their assessment within a maximum of four weeks after receiving the invitation to support us in the important task of meeting the quality standards that IJC applies.

Although we do not encourage the use of a strictly applied review form, we ask reviewers to rate the quality of a manuscript according to the following broad-stoke criteria:

General issues

  • Does the topic fall within our scope?
  • Is the topic original?
  • Is the English in good enough shape?
  • The entire manuscript does not exceed 8,000 words

Structure of the manuscript

  • Are the following elements clearly distinguishable?
  • Problem description
  • Research questions/objectives
  • Theory section
  • Conceptual model
  • Methods section
  • Results/Findings
  • Discussion/Conclusion

Problem description and research question/objective

  • Is it clear what problem is addressed in the manuscript?
  • The problem has scientific relevance
  • The problem has societal relevance
  • The problem is stated and approached in such a way that addressing it is likely to result in new knowledge (added value, filling in a clear knowledge gap)

Theory and conceptual framework

  • The theory referred to is relevant
  • The theory referred to is complete
  • The theory referred to results in a clear and appropriate conceptual framework
  • The conceptual framework contains an innovative twist (i.e. seems to go beyond the obvious, and can therefore be expected to result in new knowledge)


  • The sample selection strategy is appropriate
  • The operationalization is appropriate (i.e. identification of indicators to render the variables measurable)
  • The data collection methods are appropriate (i.e. identification of instruments to take measures on the indicators)
  • The methods for analysis that are used are innovative (i.e. they go beyond the obvious and can be expected to lead to new knowledge)

Findings and results

  • The empirical foundation is robust (i.e. analysis seems to lean on sufficient and appropriate data)
  • The analysis seems to be carried out in an appropriate way
  • The results are presented in a clear and comprehensive manner


  • The authors address methodological caveats that apply (e.g. validity, reliability, representativeness) and indicate their consequences for the claims made in the paper
  • The authors place their findings in the broader literature (i.e. do earlier findings need to be dismissed, reconsidered, or are they confirmed)? (i.e. scientific value)


  • The conclusion (e.g. the answer to the research question) explicitly and clearly result from the analysis
  • Note, that for typical review papers, some of the criteria listed above will not apply.
  • The editorial board reserves the right to refuse an article after submission in any stage of the editing process.


The journal is a registered member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and is committed to following COPE guidelines.

Preprint Policy

The journal allows authors to deposit draft versions of their paper into a suitable preprint server, on condition that the author agrees to the below:

  • The author retains copyright to the preprint and developed works from it, and is permitted to submit to the journal.
  • The author declares that a preprint is available within the cover letter presented during submission. This must include a link to the location of the preprint.
  • The author acknowledges that having a preprint publicly available means that the journal cannot guarantee the anonymity of the author during the review process, even if they anonymise the submitted files (see review policy).
  • Should the submission be published, the authors are expected to update the information associated with the preprint version to show that a final version has been published in the journal, including the DOI linking directly to the publication.


The journal strongly recommends that all authors submitting a paper register an account with Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier (ORCID). Registration provides a unique and persistent digital identifier for the account that enables accurate attribution and improves the discoverability of published papers, ensuring that the correct author receives the correct credit for their work. As the ORCID remains the same throughout the lifetime of the account, changes of name, affiliation, or research area do not effect the discoverability of an author's past work and aid correspondence with colleagues.

The journal encourages all corresponding authors to include an ORCID within their submitting author data whilst co-authors are recommended to include one. ORCID numbers should be added to the author data upon submission and will be published alongside the submitted paper, should it be accepted.


Open Data

The journal strongly encourages authors to make all data associated with their submission openly available, according to the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable). This should be linked to from a Data Accessibility Statement within the submitted paper, which will be made public upon publication. If data is not being made available with the journal publication then ideally a statement from the author should be provided within the submission to explain why. Data obtained from other sources must be appropriately credited. All data should be curated in a format that allows easy understanding and analysis (e.g. sensible column headers, descriptions in a readme text file). This help will ensure its reuse potential.

Structured Methods

As the traditional Materials and Methods section often includes insufficient detail for readers to wholly assess the research process, the journal encourages authors to publish detailed descriptions of their structured methods in open, online platforms such as By providing a step-by-step description of the methods used in the study, the chance of reproducibility and usability increases, whilst also allowing authors to build on their own works and gain additional credit and citations.

Open Code

If research includes the use of software code, statistical analysis or algorithms then we also recommend that authors upload the code into Code Ocean, where it will be hosted on an open, cloud-based computational reproducibility platform, providing researchers and developers with an easy way to share, validate and discover code published in academic journals.

For more information on how to incorporate open data, or Code Ocean into a submission, please visit our reproducibility page.


All listed authors must qualify as such, as defined in our authorship guidelines, which have been developed from the ICMJE definitions. All authors must have given permission to be listed on the submitted paper.

Competing Interests, Funding and Ethics 

To ensure transparency, all authors, reviewers and editors are required to declare any interests that could compromise, conflict or influence the validity of the publication. Competing interests guidelines can be viewed here.

In addition, authors are required to specify funding sources and detail requirements for ethical research in the submitted manuscript, ensuring that ethical approval and consent statements are detailed within the manuscript (see Author Guidelines).

Corrections and Retractions

In accordance with guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (where applicable), the Press handles different kinds of error. All articles have their proofs checked prior to publication by the author/editor, which should ensure that content errors are not present. Please contact your editorial manager if an article needs correcting.

Post-publication changes are not permitted to the publication, unless in exceptional circumstances. If an error is discovered in a published article then the publisher will assess whether a Correction paper or Retraction is required. Visit our Correction Policy page for more information.

Misconduct and Complaints

Appeals, Complaints & Misconduct

Appeals, complaints, or allegations of misconduct will be taken with utmost seriousness, regardless of whether those involved are internal or external to the journal, or whether the submission in question is pre- or post-publication. If an allegation is made to the journal, it must also be passed on to the publisher, who will follow guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) on how to address the nature of the problem.

Should an individual wish to submit an appeal, complaint or raise an issue of potential misconduct regarding the journal or its content, they should first read the full Appeals, Complaints, and Misconducts policy and then contact that editor in chief and/or the publisher to explain their concerns.

Expected behaviour

The journal does not tolerate abusive behaviour or correspondence towards its staff, academic editors, authors, or reviewers. Any person engaged with the journal who resorts to abusive behaviour or correspondence will have their contribution immediately withdrawn and future engagement with the journal will be at the discretion of the editor and/or publisher.

Section Policies


  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Research articles

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Review articles

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

State policies and identity formation of nature conservation (Guest editors: K.G. Nustad & M.E. Lien)

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Crafting combinations to govern groundwater (Guest editors: R. Meinzen-Dick & B. Bruns)

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Advancing the Commonsverse: The Political Economy of the Commons (Guest editors: H. Wagenaar & K. Bartels)

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Conflicts, power and transformations in irrigation systems (Guest editors: J. Hoogesteger, A. Mirhanoglu, M. Loopmans)

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Section Editors


  • Frank van Laerhoven
  • Michael Schoon

Research articles

  • Michael Schoon
  • Frank van Laerhoven
  • Sergio Villamayor

Review articles

  • Michael Schoon
  • Frank van Laerhoven
  • Sergio Villamayor

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