Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Thoughts on reviewers

One of the principal tasks of Editors is obtaining peer reviews of manuscripts submitted to the journal. These reviews are used as guidance in our decision-making process. Note that the reviews do not mandate to us Editors what the decision should be. (More on decision making in a later post.)

I like to ask early-career scientists to provide reviews. There are many good reasons to include an early-career scientist in the peer-review process. Some of the people I ask are flattered and politely decline because they don't feel prepared to do the review. Here are reasons why I think more early-career scientists should participate in the peer-review process.

1) Reviewing papers is something that I believe people should start early in their career. I wouldn't have asked if I didn't think that the early-career scientist could give a quality review.

2) Reviewing papers is good practice for writing and revising your own research papers.

3) I almost always have several other reviewers in mind to review this paper, so the opinion of the early-career scientist isn't the only one to be considered.

4) Reviewing a paper means that you get to see the paper before it is published. Otherwise, you can't see the paper unless you directly ask the author for a copy.

5) Reviewing the paper might give you some ideas for your own research.

6) Early career scientists usually have more time and typically deliver longer, higher-quality reviews than some senior scientists who don't have the time or take the peer-review process as seriously as they should.

So, if you get a request for a review, you should consider accepting it.


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