Finding and supporting reviewers

Reviewers play a central role in scholarly publishing. Elsevier relies on the peer review process to uphold the quality and validity of individual articles and the journals that publish them. We’re always working to improve and streamline the peer review process including running peer review studies and exploring innovations with the system for selected journals.

We know how difficult it can be to find and retain reviewers, and encourage them to meet deadlines. The Reviewer Hub can help you work with reviewers, giving them the guidance, information and support they need to carry out the best review possible. With detailed reviewer guidelines, and information on ethics and policies, this is home to all the information reviewers need. We link directly to this site from many of the letters that are sent out during the peer review process. In addition we also publish a blog with insightful articles on reviewing and the peer review process: Reviewers' Update.

Latest Reviewers' Update stories

Working with reviewers

Reviewers are often in short supply. To make sure you work well with your reviewers, and get the best reviews possible, there are some simple things you can do.

Send good quality and relevant manuscripts for review

  • Reviewers are under considerable time pressure, so it’s best not to take up their time with manuscripts to review that are of such poor quality they could be rejected outright or articles on topics which are outside the reviewer's area of expertise.
  • Elsevier provides tools which can help you home in on suitable reviewers and/or evaluate who might be best placed to invite for a particular manuscript. Your journal manager and publisher will be able to confirm what is available for your title.

Keep reviewers informed

  • Reviewers generally like to know the final editorial decision of the paper, and see other reviewers’ comments.
  • You can enable this functionality in the submission system – to adjust it for your journal, speak to your journal manager.
  • It is generally also appreciated by reviewers if you give them feedback on their review. There are different ways to approach this so discuss the options with your publisher.

Give reviewers recognition

  • Reviewers are grateful for efforts, however small, to show appreciation of their work.
  • You can recognize reviewers with certificates and annual listings in the journal.
  • An easy way of getting a helping hand with reviewer recognition is to ensure your journal is live on Elsevier’s Reviewer Recogniton Platform (speak to your publisher if you're not sure).
  • Encourage reviewers to make use of the Reviewer Recognition Platform and to showcase their reviewing efforts on Mendeley.

You might find this article useful in terms of navigating the options around reviewer recognition at Elsevier.

Top tips for working with reviewers

  1. Try to select reviewers who are doing research in a related area – they are more likely to find the paper relevant and interesting, and therefore respond promptly. They will also be able to spot missing references and other shortcomings.
  2. Make use of editorial board members for reviewing, and consider rotating off board members who do not review regularly.
  3. Think twice before using reviewers who have not been active in research in the last five years.
  4. Check the journal’s recent authors – the best reviewers are often early career researchers who have recently published in the journal.
  5. Approach mid-career researchers (who are often the slowest reviewers) for referrals to suitable reviewers.
  6. Only invite the reviewers you need – inviting more reviewers than are needed can cause reviewers to feel unappreciated, and conflicting reviews can come in after you have made your decision. You can track invitations in EVISE and EES.

Provide clear guidance

  • Reviewers benefit from having information and guidance from the start of the review process, including timely and useful reminders.
  • Establish a peer review policy outlining what is expected of reviewers.
  • Develop a set of clear reviewer guidelines.
  • Ensure that your journal includes deadlines in its reviewer invitation letter(s).
  • Check that your journal has set up automatic reminders for reviewers and customize reviewer letters to include relevant information (your journal manager can assist with this).

Finding (and retaining) reviewers

Finding new reviewers and keeping good ones can be challenging; here are some suggestions from Elsevier for how you can make this process easier:

Make use of Elsevier-provided tools for homing in on potential reviewers such as the reviewer recommender, the journal reviewer list and the Scopus "find reviewers tool" (available via EES and EVISE).

Identify and examine potential reviewers by searching in Scopus. You can see their published work, citation histories and who their co-authors were, and set up citation alerts for their research.

Consider participating in the “VolunPeers” initiative – your publisher can give you more information and help you to get signed up.

Create a reviewer classifications list for your journal, so you can match manuscripts to the right reviewer according to their area of expertise.

Build a database of relevant reviewers in EVISE or EES by assigning classifications and adding notes. This lets you search for reviewers matching the manuscript's keywords, and set up automated actions, such as uninviting and alternate reviewer invitations.

Curate and maintain your list – ensure it’s kept up to date, that you action any change of contact details for reviewers and that you “spring clean” your list once in a while to ensure that non-responding or consistently declining reviewers are removed.