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Publish with us

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. 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.

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

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 Hubopens in new tab/window

  • Encourage reviewers to make use of Reviewer Hubopens in new tab/window

You might also 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 Editorial Manager)

Provide clear guidance

  • Reviewers benefit from having information and guidance from the start of the review process, including timely and useful reminders

  • 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 Find Reviewers via Scopus toolopens in new tab/window and the journal reviewer listopens in new tab/window

    • The Find Reviewers via Scopus Tool has three main features; suggested/recommended reviewers, Scopus keyword search and information on potential referees who have indicated they are willing to review

  • Identify and examine potential reviewers by searching in Scopusopens in new tab/window — 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 the submission system 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


Here is a selection of relevant articles from Reviewers' and Editors' Update on the topic of finding, managing and rewarding reviewers:

We have also created a number of training videos which guide you on how to make the most of the Editorial Manager system's capabilities for interacting with referees. Below is a selection, but you can find more in our editor training playlistopens in new tab/window: