Becoming a reviewer: how and why

Reviewing requires the investment of time and a certain skill set. Before you decide if you want to become a reviewer, we recommend that you read more about the peer review process and conducting a review. You can also look at some of the training courses and webinars in the tools and resources section or at the free Elsevier Publishing Campus.

Do you want to be a reviewer?

Typically reviewers are invited to conduct a review by a journal or books editor. Editors usually select researchers who are experts in the same subject area as the paper. However, if you think you would be a good reviewer for a specific journal you can always contact one of the journal's editors.

  1. Identify which journal you would like to review for using the journal finder tool on
  2. Visit the journal homepage and ‘view full editorial board’
  3. Contact the relevant editor(s) through the site and offer your reviewing services

What do reviewers do, and why?

Reviewers evaluate article submissions to journals, based on the requirements of that journal, predefined criteria, and quality, completeness and accuracy of the research presented. They provide feedback on the article and the research, suggest improvements and make a recommendation to the editor about whether to accept, reject or request changes to the article.

Reviewing is a time-intensive process – writing a review report can be almost as much work as writing a manuscript! However, it is very worthwhile for the reviewer as well as for the community. Reviewers:

  • ensure the rigorous standards of the scientific process by taking part in the peer-review system
  • uphold the integrity of the journal by identifying invalid research and helping to maintain the quality of the journal
  • fulfil a sense of obligation to the community and their own area of research
  • establish relationships with reputable colleagues and their affiliated journals and increase their opportunities to join an editorial board
  • reciprocate professional courtesy, as authors and reviewers are often interchangeable roles because as reviewers, researchers ‘repay’ the same courtesy they receive as authors.

Why review?

There are great benefits to becoming a reviewer. You can:

  • Establish your expertise in the field and expand your knowledge
  • Improve your reputation and increase your exposure to key figures in the field
  • Stay up to date with the latest literature and have advanced access to research results
  • Develop critical thinking skills essential to research
  • Advance in your career – peer review is an essential role for researchers


Recognising reviewers

Reviewers are important to us; Elsevier’s Reviewer Recognition Programme aims to engage reviewers and reward them for the work they do. The Programme features several projects and experiments.


Cross-Reviewing (CR) is a new innovation that allows reviewers to see each other’s reports once all reports have been submitted. It provides reviewers with a short window of time in which to discuss the reports. During this time, they are given the opportunity to provide additional information or make further recommendations to the editor based on this discussion, before they make a final decision.

Reviewer recognition platform

Reviewers find reviewing an important and rewarding activity, but the work is almost invisible to the outside world, and hardly ever rewarded. The Reviewer Recognition Platform is designed to change that.

The Platform offers reviewers a personalised profile page, documenting their reviewing history. If a reviewer has completed at least one review in two years, they become a ‘recognised reviewer’. ‘Outstanding reviewer’ status is awarded to those who belong to the top 10th percentile in terms of the number of completed reviews for a specific journal in two years. Editors can also hand-pick reviewers and award them with a ‘Certificate of Excellence’ and other perks.
Reviewers can download review certificates, end-of-year review reports and electronic badges via the Platform. Reviewers can also volunteer to review for their favourite Elsevier journals.

The Platform offers discounts for several Elsevier services, including Elsevier’s WebShop, which offers professional English-language editing, translation and illustration services for researchers preparing their articles and the Elsevier book store.

Peer review reports as articles

The publishing peer review reports pilot publicly recognises reviewers’ intellectual contribution to accepted articles through the official publication of their reports. Review reports are attributed a separate DOI and are published next to the accepted paper on Science Direct. Participating journals include:

  • Agriculture and Forest Meteorology
  • Annals of Medicine and Surgery
  • Engineering Fracture Mechanics
  • Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies
  • International Journal of Surgery

Reviewer feedback programme

We regularly survey reviewers to get a better understanding of their needs and how successfully we are managing to meet them. Findings from the Reviewer Feedback Programme help us to improve the reviewing experience. For example 90% of reviewers said they would like to be able to see the final decision and other reviewers’ comments on a paper, so we added this functionality to EES.

The Reviewer Feedback Programme monitors Elsevier’s performance from the perspective of reviewers on Elsevier journals. We will ask you about various aspects of EES and other aspects of reviewing via an online survey. Areas of interaction and support are measured and reported regularly. Elsevier’s performance is benchmarked against that of other publishers.

If you have been asked to complete our Reviewer Feedback Programme online survey, we strongly recommend you complete it to make sure your voice is heard.