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The role of a reviewer

Reviewing requires the investment of time and a certain skill set. Before you decide to accept a request to review,  you might want to know more about the peer review process and how to conduct a review. You can also check out some of the free e-learning modules, tools and resources on Elsevier Researcher Academy(opens in new tab/window).

What do reviewers do?

Reviewers evaluate article submissions to journals based on the requirements of that journal, predefined criteria, and the quality, completeness and accuracy of the research presented. They provide feedback on the paper, suggest improvements and make a recommendation to the editor about whether to accept, reject or request changes to the article. The ultimate decision always rests with the editor but reviewers play a significant role in determining the outcome.Find out more about the process and what is involved here

Reviewing is a time-intensive process – writing a review report can be almost as much work as writing a manuscript! – but 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.

  • can help prevent ethical breaches by identifying plagiarism, research fraud and other problems by dint of their familiarity with the subject area.

  • reciprocate professional courtesy, as authors and reviewers are often interchangeable roles – as reviewer, researchers "repay" the same consideration they receive as authors.

Volunteer to review

Typically, reviewers are invited to conduct a review by a journal editor. Editors usually select researchers that are experts in the same subject area as the paper. However, if you think you would be a good referee for a specific journal you can volunteer to review on our Reviewer Hub(opens in new tab/window). On the “Volunteer to review(opens in new tab/window)” section of the Reviewer Hub, you can search for the journal(s) of your choosing and click on “Review for journal” to indicate your interest. Please note that you should first complete your reviewer profile.

Access the Reviewer Hub(opens in new tab/window)

Other ways to volunteer to review

  1. Keep an eye on the journal homepage of your choice for a “volunteer to review” pod.

  2. Alternatively, visit the journal homepage and “view full editorial board”, then contact the relevant editor(s) through the site and offer your reviewing services.

  3. Please be aware that the choice of whether or not to choose a particular referee for a paper is entirely at the discretion of the editor and Elsevier plays no part in this decision.

Recognizing reviewers

Elsevier acknowledges reviewers’ invaluable contribution to the progress of science. Elsevier’s reviewer recognition program aims to engage reviewers and reward them for the work they do. The program features several projects and experiments:

Reviewer Hub

The time, energy and expertise that referees contribute to validating the work of their peers is vital to the advancement of the academic community. Elsevier’s Reviewer Hub provides reviewers with a means of showcasing their efforts and receiving credit for their work.

The platform offers reviewers a personalized profile page, documenting their reviewing history and review certificates.

On the Reviewer Hub, reviewers can also claim their 30 days’ complimentary access to Scopus and ScienceDirect.

The platform offers discounts for several Elsevier services, including Elsevier’s WebShop(opens in new tab/window), which offers professional English language editing, translation and illustration services for researchers preparing their articles, and the Elsevier Book Store.

Access the Elsevier Reviewer Hub(opens in new tab/window)

Peer review reports as articles

The publishing peer review reports pilot publicly recognized reviewers’ intellectual contribution to accepted articles through the official publication of their reports. Review reports were attributed a separate DOI and published next to the accepted paper on Science Direct. If you are new to reviewing, you are urged to consult a few of these reports to get a feel for how to provide feedback yourself. Review reports are available for the following journals via the “supplementary material” section of articles published between 2015-2018. Participating journals include:

Reviewer feedback programme

We regularly survey reviewers to get a better understanding of their needs and how we’re doing when it comes to meeting 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 the electronic submission system.

The reviewer feedback programme monitors Elsevier’s performance from the perspective of reviewers on Elsevier journals. We’ll ask you about various aspects of the reviewing system 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.