We are aware that there are many qualified, capable and enthusiastic people willing to review papers, so why is it so difficult to 'break into' the reviewer community and become an active reviewer?
The main reason is because it is always up to the editor to select the reviewers they wish to handle a paper.
Editors usually select reviewers based on a few criteria:
- Qualifications (Masters/PhD – depending on subject area)
- Whether they have reviewed before
- The number of papers they have published in their given area of expertise
- How well those papers have been cited
- Recommendations from other researchers/reviewers they know or have worked with
This can make it challenging for you to get involved in reviewing papers, however we do have a few suggestions that may help you to get started:
- Talk to your supervisor/head of department and let them know that you are interested in reviewing. It is more than likely that they themselves review papers and they will be able to guide you through the process or involve you in part of the reviewing process. They can also recommend you to the editors they review for.
- Find journals that are related to your area of expertise and identify articles that you feel confident you would be qualified to review. Most journals will give a name and contact email address for the handling editor. You could email that editor directly giving the reasons why you would be a good reviewer e.g. your qualification, the number of papers you have published etc.
- At the next conference you are attending, you could identify any editors present (again in your area of research) and approach them directly
Being a reviewer can be a rewarding responsibility and helps you to stay on top of the most up-to-date research and without reviewers, it would be impossible to maintain the high standards of peer-review journals.