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Tips & tricks for managing the peer review process with Editorial Manager - Part 1

October 27, 2020 | 7 min read

By José Stoop

Wooden letters spelling tips with scattered letters and glowing light bulb

Finding and inviting reviewers

This is the first in a new series of longer, guide-style articles which are intended to give editors some practical insights into how to get the best out of the EM submission system. These guide articles are paired with a series of short “how to” videos(opens in new tab/window) for maximum ease-of-use. Stay tuned for further instalments!

Ask any editor about their main struggle and chances are big they’ll mention finding reviewers. However, not all editors may be aware of the large variety of options that Editorial Manager (EM) offers to support editors to identify and evaluate, invite, retain and reward peer reviewers. This is the first of a series of Editorial Manager “tips & tricks” articles aiming to make the review process easier and quicker for you. This first article will focus on helping you find and invite suitable reviewers and is divided into three sections:

  • Using the Reviewer Recommender

  • Making optimal use of the journal’s reviewer database

  • Setting reviewer preferences

1) How to harness the power of the Reviewer Recommender

The Reviewer Recommender generates reviewer recommendations based on AI technology and allows you to easily identify and evaluate review candidates. Researchers with potential conflicts of interest and opposed reviewers are filtered out; the remaining candidates are then ranked using specific criteria e.g. publication history and reviews in progress, with specific candidates such as author-suggested reviewers or recent authors of the journal being flagged.

You will find the Reviewer Recommender on the “Reviewer Selection Summary” screen in Editorial Manager; please select “search using – Reviewer Recommender” in the “Reviewer Search” box to open the recommender. Note that it may take up to 24 hours after the submission is completed to see the recommendations available, though the system is usually much faster than this.

Tip: By clicking on the “Filter recommendations” button, you can further filter the results on author keywords, Scopus areas and h-index. You can go back to the list of candidates by clicking on the button again or the ‘X’ in the top right.

Spoiler alert! With the Reviewer Recommender now stable on all journals on EM and usage increasing, we have started building a search engine to help editors search Scopus for suitable candidates. We are working towards a reviewer keyword search (i.e. like the Find Reviewer tool) within the Reviewer Recommender user interface, which will be seamlessly integrated into EM.

2) How to make optimal use of your journal’s reviewer database

If you’d like to search for a reviewer manually in the journal’s own database, you can select the “Search my publication” option in the “Reviewer Search” box.

Searching the entire database

By selecting “Entire database” instead of the default “All Reviewers”, you will vastly expand your results as this search will include both reviewers and authors.

Tip: Editorial Board Members (EBM) are often reputable, senior scientists that are loyal to the journal, and hence may be willing to do the occasional review – you will find an overview of your journal’s EBMs on the journal homepage.

Tip: Check out our new video(opens in new tab/window) on how to use this feature!

Using classifications

If your journal has a classification list in place, you will be able to match the manuscript classifications with user classifications in order to find suitable reviewers. In order to do so use the “Search by classification matches” option to display a list of matches with the submission’s classifications where a match is found with reviewers. For each classification, the results will show the number of reviewers found with that personal classification in the reviewer profile.

Tip: If your journal doesn’t have a classification list, work with your publishing contact to set one up. There are often existing classification lists available that can be used with small modifications.

Finding and inviting author-suggested reviewers

Most journals ask authors to suggest one or more potential reviewers during submission, which can be very useful. You can find these reviewers in the drop-down menu in the “Search my Publication” box and by selecting “Suggested by author” and then clicking on the “Go” button to reveal more information about the potential reviewer candidate.

Tip: Are you not sure whether your journal asks author to suggest reviewers, or whether this is an optional or mandatory submission step? Ask your Journal Manager who will be able to switch on the preferred settings.

Tip: Unfortunately, there have been cases of authors suggesting real, expert reviewers but providing fictitious email addresses. The authors then write (positive!) reviews of their own papers. When inviting an author-suggested reviewer, do please check the validity of reviewer email addresses (especially if the email doesn’t belong to an institution) and include at least one reviewer who was not suggested by the author. Luckily Reviewer Recommender helps you by validating email addresses using data from Scopus.

Any reviewers suggested by the author that do not return any matches from the database are displayed with a “Register and Select New Reviewer” link.

EM will alert you when a reviewer-candidate is also a co-author on the manuscript. Opposed reviewers will be flagged under the reviewer name in red.

Tip: You can add some additional guidelines for authors around suggesting reviewers, such as not accepting suggestions from the same institute or country.

Setting alternate reviewers

As reviewers tend to be busy, not all of them will respond to an invitation, or will be forced to decline. By selecting alternate reviewers upon inviting your first set of reviewers, a second, alternate reviewer will automatically be invited when the original reviewer declines or does not respond within the set timeframe. Using this functionality keeps the review process ongoing without you having to take further action!

Tip: Editorial Manager allows you to link a specific alternate reviewer to an original reviewer so you can make sure the best fitting reviewer expertise is deployed. For more information see here(opens in new tab/window).

Combining your search results

You can create a “shortlist” of reviewer candidates by selecting candidates using mixed sources and setting these candidates as alternates. From the reviewer selection summary screen, you can see the reviewer candidates which you have selected so far and from there decide who should be invited and who should be left as an alternate or removed from the list if required.

Handling a revision: finding and inviting the reviewer of the original submission

Inviting the same reviewer that reviewed the original submission for a revision will in many cases lead to a speedy response – this reviewer is already familiar with the content of the manuscript and may be interested in seeing the improvements made by the author. You can find the original reviewer of the manuscript in the drop down menu of the “Search my Publication” box and then selecting “Select from previous reviewers” in the drop down menu and clicking on “Go”, this option will appear for editors by default.

3) Setting reviewer preferences

Using “My Suggest Reviewer Preferences”, it is possible to search for reviewers based on your own personal search preferences. These preferences are saved.

There are two sections which appear. The first section enables you to define which reviewers to exclude from search results, for example someone being at the same institution as the corresponding author, or people who already have a number of pending reviews. In the second section you can rank the order of importance for these criteria. Once you click on submit these preferences are saved.

Once these preferences are set up you can use the “Suggest Reviewers” selection from the search options drop down menu and click “Go”. The Reviewer candidates’ grid will then display the search tool.