Breaking into the world of peer review is not an easy task! In the pursuit of excelling in both research and academia, novice or early stage researchers are constantly in search of opportunities to take on the role of a peer reviewer. With the right motivation, determination, and tactics you can successfully launch yourself into the world of peer review. Instead of writing random emails to editors, it is always better to follow a more systematic approach.
Why Peer Review is Rewarding?
Peer reviewing manuscripts is a privilege for researchers as it allows them to stay abreast with the latest cutting-edge research and helps them improve their writing skills. The entire journey of peer review encourages an individual to think critically about the article. Once you start reviewing articles, you tend to spot common mistakes quite easily. You can then use this experience to improve your writing style, presentation, and bring more value to your research articles. This in turn will also improve your chances of publication. Reviewers can gain recognition via reviewer lists in journals and through reviewer certificates. Furthermore, becoming a part of the peer review committee allows you to build new connections with researchers in your own field, fostering future collaborations.
Tips to Get Noticed by Editors
Publish high-quality manuscripts in reputed journals
Publishing papers in top-notch journals is perhaps the best way to increase your visibility. Editors are definitely on a look out for researchers with a strong repertoire of well-written manuscripts. Researchers working in your domain may also recommend you as a potential reviewer for their paper. Use of appropriate field-specific keywords in your manuscript may well hold the key to being noticed by editor’s locating you via indexing services of databases.
Establish direct contact with journal editors
Shoot an email to the managing editors expressing your interest to become a peer reviewer. Mention your area of expertise and share some of your work for the editors to review. You can also share your publication record for a better impact.
Follow up with the editors
Contact associate editors rather than editors-in chief as they are more likely to be involved in the initial screening of peer reviewers. Be honest about your peer review experience (novice/established), your research expertise, and your common interests. If you are a novice or an early career researcher, mention it likewise and highlight your desire and willingness to gain experience as a peer reviewer. In addition, also mention that you are good with keeping time commitments as this is a vital quality that editors look for. You may not receive an instantaneous reply if your skills don’t match those required by the editor. However, keep writing to them every 3-4 months to let them know your availability.
Join researcher networks
Online researcher networks such as ResearchGate, ORCiD allow you to find and connect with editors specific to your field. Ensure that your profile includes sufficient details about your current areas of research. You may also consider adding links to your published works (journal articles or books). They also help you build your profile as an expert peer reviewer and make it easier for editors from leading journals to discover your profile.
Proactively connect with other researchers in your field
Journal editors usually ask for reviewer recommendations. Making yourself known to researchers increases your chances of being recommended as a reviewer. Strike a conversation with fellow researchers and editors when attending conferences. Some journals may also make specific invites for reviewers to get in touch with them. This is usually the case for new journals who wish to expand their scope and reach in different areas.
Work closely with your peers or senior colleagues to understand the nuances of the reviewing process and request them to recommend you to editors. This is a great way to upgrade your reviewing skills in the absence of any formal training.
Peer review training and certification
Not just early career researchers but even established and senior researchers face problems while generating a good peer review report. Enrolling in a certified peer review course helps you gain vital skills and improves your proficiency in peer review. With peer review certifications, you can give a clear and loud signal to journal editors that you are a credible addition to their reviewer pool.
Practice your reviewer skills on other platforms
PubMed and F1000Research have implemented post-publication peer review systems where registered users can comment on published articles. Use these platforms to provide constructive, professional and objective comments on articles. This will help showcase your critical evaluation skills. Such platforms also allow you to network with the research community at large.
Sign up for journal databases
Create an account in journal databases with an appealing biography and appropriate keywords. Ensure that you have selected the “Available to be a reviewer” option. It is the most likely place where editors seek potential reviewers. Furthermore, you can also register yourself for the ‘Volunteer to Review’ initiative launched by several journals.
Reviewer recognition platform
Create a personalized reviewer profile page on the ‘Reviewer Recognition Platform’. You can document your reviewing history by indicating all the reviewing assignments by year. Additionally, you may also indicate whether the reviewed manuscript was ultimately published or not. You may also collect certificates of recognition for every peer review and add them to upgrade your resume. Furthermore, journal editors may personally recognize reviewers who have submitted high-quality peer review reports.
Finally, never give up on your attempts. Remember persistence is the key! If you land up with a peer review invitation from a journal, be attentive, focused and proactive about accepting the invitation and delivering quality review in a timely manner. This will further build the editor’s trust in your abilities and ethics.
What are you waiting for? Slip into your go-getter shoes and catch hold of that opportunity! Have you tried any of these methods yet? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!