Despite the concerns and criticisms of the system, peer review is still at the heart of scholarly communication. It is an essential filter for readers – a stamp of authority or a badge of quality. Good peer review depends on the trust and cooperation of all the players – reviewers and authors rely on each other to do a good job and both gain skills and experience from seeing the other side of the process.
What’s in it for me?
Reviewing is a crucial skill to develop as a researcher. There are many benefits to getting involved, but one of the key ones is that it gives you the opportunity to play a very real part in advancing your area of research.
Being a peer reviewer can enable you to:
- Play a greater role in the academic community
- Develop your own writing and research skills
- See the latest research first and have the opportunity to improve it
- Improve your skills in critiquing your own work and the work of others
How do I get started?
So, you like the idea of peer reviewing, but how do you get started? Remember, you can become a reviewer at any stage of your career – you just need to be an “expert” in the subject area and be able to evaluate and critique a manuscript.
There’s no set path to becoming a reviewer, but here are some suggestions:
- Contact a journal editor directly and express your interest in reviewing.
- Ask a colleague who already reviews for a journal to recommend you.
- Use conferences to network with journal editors.
- Write a paper – journal authors are then added to the journal’s reviewer database.
- Look for journals that have formal reviewer mentoring schemes in place.
- Ask a senior researcher or colleague to mentor you or delegate peer-review duties to you.
Writing a great review
Writing your first review, or even subsequent ones, can feel overwhelming.