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How to get involved in peer review (and why you should)

Photo of Leila JonesLeila Jones, Head of Journals Editorial Development, Taylor & Francis

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.
Don’t be daunted! Anyone who has enough specialist knowledge in the research field can be a reviewer.

Writing a great review

Writing your first review, or even subsequent ones, can feel overwhelming.

On Editor Resources, we offer reviewer guidelines, including a step-by-step guide to writing a review and examples of constructive comments.