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This may be a naive question but it would greatly assist me in preparing my first paper for a peer-reviewed journal.

I can identify at least 4 papers that I can extract from my recently completed PhD dissertation in the social sciences.

What do reviewers look for in order to assess that a paper is suitable for publication in their peer reviewed journal?

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Ask your advisor, this is what they are for. Also, you must have read papers in your field... –  Carl Mummert Jan 17 '13 at 1:45
    
If only advisors knew all the answers! –  Javeer Baker Jan 17 '13 at 4:45
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Not all. this is definitely within the advisor's purview though. –  Suresh Jan 17 '13 at 5:26
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Generally speaking, they are looking for something new which contributes to the current literature of the field.
If your paper fits in this context (i.e. you believe your paper will enhance/improve current methods or even solve particular problem, then you got publishable work regardless of the reviewing output.

For a particular journal, other factors are added to the significance of the work (for example journal scope, writing level, paper format and methodology).

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This is definitely not a naive question.

The best you can do is to understand the position of a hypothetical (ideal/unbiased) reviewer and immediately from that you will get answers to your question. Particularities could depend on the field (theoretical vs. experimental, etc.). Hence, look for answers to the question "how to review?". Already answers here at academia.SE provide lots of relevant points. Answers to this question are probably the best starting point.

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