Your question is quite important and this has become a very relevant issue given the number of journals that are getting published on a regular basis. As a researcher, you would be familiar with a certain set of journals or publishers on a regular basis.
However, to attract better readership and ensure that the latest research is getting published, many publishers are coming out with new journals, which publish studies from specific subject areas. This makes it more difficult to identify relevant peer reviewers.
As a potential peer reviewer, some guidelines that could be followed are listed below:
- If it is a new journal, look for the name of the publisher and the ISSN number that has been provided. You can cross-check the details on databases like Scopus, Web of Science, DOAJ (if it is an open access journal).
- In the guidelines that they have shared, have they mentioned any specific references to institutions like COPE, ICMJE, or their own editorial policies?
- Were you able to identify relevant details of the Editor-in-Chief or the journal editor who contacted you? You could possibly scan social profiles like LinkedIn, ResearchGate, etc
- If the journal is a new one, check the email IDs that are being used for communication, cross-check the date on which the last issue was published, and the list of authors can be checked too to see if they are authentic researchers.
- Do you have a profile on Publons? If so, you can also check if other peer reviewers have worked for the journal that has approached you.
Finally, if it the journal is indeed a genuine one, then it would have identified you because of your research profile. So, if you receive requests to review papers that are completely not in line with your expertise, perhaps you should just ignore the request rather than work on it.