Want to become a certified peer reviewer?

Introducing Researcher Academy's latest free offering – a comprehensive course on becoming a confident referee

CPR course launch image
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Are you scared of peer review? You’re not the only one…! Plenty of would-be reviewers are put off from engaging as a referee due to a lack of familiarity with the processes or because they think they are not sufficiently experienced to review someone else’s work. Partly as a result of this, editors often struggle with finding reviewers. And even when you might be feeling confident enough to get stuck in with peer review, it’s often unclear just how you transform your enthusiasm into concrete action. With that said, it’s clear that peer reviewing often comes with certain challenges. Enter the new Researcher Academy Certified Peer Reviewer course!

Peer review is a task academics get involved in their career without much background information. With this course, we hope we can answer some of their questions about how to review and how to get involved.

- Bahar Mehmani, Reviewer Experience Lead at Elsevier

The importance of peer review

The integrity of scholarly communications is heavily reliant on the peer review process. In a 2015 survey, 82% of those questioned agreed that “without peer review there is no control in scientific communication”. 74% thought that reviewing significantly raises the quality of published papers (read the full report here). Unfortunately, there is an ongoing referee shortage: not enough researchers are getting involved in the reviewing process. This makes the job of the editor more difficult, and also means authors experience delays whilst referees are found and agree to review their paper.

Researchers have also pointed to a lack of guidance about how they can produce a good review, and how they are all too often expected to learn on the job. 77% of reviewers surveyed in another report were interested in receiving specific peer reviewing training. And whilst most of those were early career researchers, this sentiment was also espoused by more established academics. Therefore, it is crucial for science to expand the reviewer pool and to ensure that proper training is available to create knowledgeable and confident referees.

Introducing the Certified Peer Reviewer course!

Here at Elsevier, we recognize the above challenges and we want to help. That’s why the Elsevier Researcher Academy is launching the Certified Peer Reviewer Course. As with all the Researcher Academy offerings, the course is completely free, and the syllabus has been developed with the expert input of editors of leading journals. Some of these are also speakers for the course and are joined by industry experts from Elsevier to present a comprehensive syllabus to learners. The course will help potential referees to develop by gaining vital ground skills and improving their competence in peer reviewing. The material is presented in a variety of formats and is organized in a modular format with questions accompanying each section, allowing you to test your understanding and work at your own pace. A certificate is awarded on completion of the full course.

Having worked with the scholarly community for many years and having seen the importance of peer review, it has been a fantastic experience to collaborate in the creation of this course. I am sure it will prove very effective in removing the “fear factor” from receiving an invite to review and will enable a new generation of referees to help confidently shape the research output in their area.

- Christopher Tancock, Senior Researcher Communications Manager


By the end of the course, learners should be able to contemplate all aspects of writing a good peer review with confidence. You will learn what to consider before deciding to accept a request or not, how to formulate your report and other important aspects such as how to check journal- and editor requirements, how the different peer review models operate and what you can do after completing your report. You can also raise questions and obtain feedback in the associated Mendeley group. Becoming a certified peer reviewer will allow you to publicly demonstrate your expertise as a referee and will be a clear signal to journal editors that you would be a valuable addition to their reviewer pool. In addition, it is possible that your institution might recognize your certification as evidence of continuing professional education

Sign me up!

Researcher Academy is always actively looking for new ways to help the research community and hopes that the proposed course will help create a positive impact by enabling its learners to become confident and active referees. The course launched during Peer Review Week 2019 on 17th September. Register for free via this link and gain the skills and confidence to say “yes” to your next invite to review!

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