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