Why should you become a reviewer?

Peer Review Week 2018

There are many demands on a researcher’s time today and so it is a legitimate question to ask why some of that precious time should be spent reviewing someone else’s work. How does being a reviewer help you in your career? Here are some top ways that you can benefit:

Keep up with the latest thinking

As a reviewer you get an early view of the exciting new research being done in your field. Not only that, peer review gives you a role in helping to evaluate and improve this new work.

Improve your own writing

Carefully reviewing articles written by other researchers can give you an insight into how you can make your own better. Unlike when you are reading articles as part of your research, the process of reviewing encourages you to think critically about what makes an article good (or not so good). This could be related to writing style, presentation, or the clarity of explanations.

As you review more papers you will start to spot common mistakes. And you’ll also understand what makes one article better than others. You can then incorporate this best practice into your own writing and improve your chances of getting published.

Boost your career

While a lot of reviewing is anonymous, there are schemes to recognize the important contribution of reviewers. These include reviewer lists in journals, reviewer certificates, and Publons. You can also include your reviewing work on your resumé. Your work as a reviewer will be of interest to appointment or promotion committees who are looking for evidence of service to the profession.

Become part of a journal’s community

Many journals act as the center of a network of researchers who are in conversation about key themes and developments in the field. Becoming a reviewer is a great way to get involved with that group. This can give you the opportunity to build new connections for future collaborations. Being a regular reviewer may also be the first step to becoming a member of the journal’s editorial board.

Your research community needs you

Of course, being a reviewer is not just about the benefits it can bring you. The Taylor & Francis peer review survey found that these are the top 3 reasons why researchers choose to review:

Playing a part as a member of the academic community

Peer review is the bedrock of academic publishing. The work of reviewers is essential in helping every piece of research to become as good as it can be. By being a reviewer, you will play a vital part in advancing the research area that you care about.

Reciprocating the benefit

Researchers regularly talk about the benefits to their own work from being reviewed by others. Even if receiving critical feedback is sometimes painful at the time, the process usually leads to a better final article. Gratitude to the reviewers who have improved your work is a great motivation to make one’s own contribution of service to the community.

Enjoying being able to help improve papers

Reviewing is often anonymous, with only the editor knowing the important contribution you have made. However, many reviewers attest that it is work that makes them feel good, knowing that they have been able to support a fellow researcher.

Later this week we’ll be looking at practical ways you can become a reviewer and, once you are, how to do it well.

Other posts in this Peer Review Week series:

Your research community needs YOU … to become a peer reviewer

How to become a peer reviewer

Tips for new peer reviewers