Best practices for peer reviewers

Best practices for peer reviewers

What is the matter with some reviewers? I understand that it is an uncomfortable job as it is not remunerated, it takes time to do it well and we are such a perfect scholars… So I think some guidelines are needed , it is our game:

  1. Integrity. Do a good review, spend time and care on it.
  2. Know your journal. Read the notes for authors, familiarize with the articles it publishes, look for its citation indexes, all these will help you to set the standards for the review.
  3. Align with the editor to set the quality criteria of your reviews. Editors usually need content for their journals, if you are too strict maybe you are not valid to them.
  4. There are many more options than accepted / rejected. You can leave it open for the author to improve it, without throwing it back completely. Leave the decision to the editor, there are still another reviewer. Sometimes the material is good but you have to help authors to adapt the paper to the journal’s editorial line.
  5. Be constructive with your comments. Think a bit of the author, who has devoted time and has tried to contribute to knowledge, it could be yours in the future. Use the journal form for reviews, it will make you easier the task of revision.
  6. Accept the articles which you feel able to review, though you should accept some papers a bit beyond your area of ​​expertise and knowledge. Editors usually have trouble finding reviewers, if you only circunscribes to your specific field, neither you are you going to learn nor you are going to make the life easier to the editor.
  7. Confidenciality of information. Do not consult nor send to anyone the paper you are reviewing, especially to a professional who does not know anything about peer review or research. If it’s something you do not know, you can ask or investigate, but YOU have been requested to do it, stop thinking much about it, contribute as far as you can and full stop.
  8. Time management. If editors see that you are a good and efficient reviewer, you will be used a lot. So reviewing 1 or 2 articles every two months is fine, it keeps you fit: you read about your research field, you learn about paper structuring, you gain knowledge of journals’ procedures and you build relationships with editors for the future.
  9. Conflict of interest. If you’re not comfortable with the review task, either you think you know the author or it is a subject far beyond your knowledge, you have several options: withdraw as a reviewer, have deft touch or work harder on the review; it will depend on your level of compromise with the journal.
  10. Be agile. There is no reason to take 4 to 6 weeks to review a paper, do it within the next week. Spend a couple of hours at most (one to read and take notes, and another to do the review, with time in between to let your little brain to assimilate it).

In conclusion: easy, peer! Take it as a learning experience, a way to build yor network and an obligation to stay updated in your reserach field. If you are not a reviewer, sorry for your academic and publishing career!

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15 Responses to Best practices for peer reviewers

  1. Lynne M. Webb says:

    I disagree with point #9. I would never reject an essay because I lack the expertise to review it. Instead, I would contact the editor and withdraw as a reviewer. If I know someone with the appropriate expertise, I may nominate that person to the editor to review the piece.

  2. The points you made are valid steps for writing a quality review. I may add that some editors and I include self in this category, triangulate the process to include professional development which necessitates, as much as possible, working with authors and reviewers to a positive open process in which all the actors come to an appreciation of each other’s contribution. The product of such cooperation is sometimes commended by readers!

  3. Gina Vega says:

    As editor of a developmental journal, I take special care to provide reviewing guidelines for my reviewers and to pair up an experienced reviewer with a less experienced one so I can evaluate the quality of the reviews. I “review the reviews” and provide feedback, especially to new reviewers, so they can expand the developmental nature of their reviews. There is no point to rejecting material if it is possible for the authors to improve it to publishability. This is one of the differentiators of The CASE Journal from some other journals, and we take great pride in it. I believe that the reviewers are the most important component/element of a high quality journal.

    • Gina, very interesting commnents, thank you. I would highlight in particular the phrase: “There is no point to rejecting material if it is possible for the authors to improve it to publishability”, it gives confidence to authors.

  4. FJGellert says:

    I like the idea. I have been a reviewer for a couple of years now and I must say it is a fruitful and inspiring process of getting to know other authors and researchers work at a pre-stage of publication. Feedback given was always appreciated and turned out in good publications. I agree that we need/have some guidelines for new reviewers as well as for the experienced ones to be clear about what we are doing and how we are doing, so transparency is good.

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  8. Yongjin Chang says:

    Reblogged this on Yongjin Chang.

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