Gene duplications and their subsequent divergence play an important part in the evolution of novel gene functions. Several models for the emergence, maintenance and evolution of gene copies have been proposed. However, a clear consensus on how gene duplications are fixed and maintained in genomes is lacking. Here, we present a comprehensive classification of the models that are relevant to all stages of the evolution of gene duplications. Each model predicts a unique combination of evolutionary dynamics and functional properties. Setting out these predictions is an important step towards identifying the main mechanisms that are involved in the evolution of gene duplications.