I’m interested in getting more involved as a journal reviewer, but missed the recent webinar on “How to Become an Effective Journal Reviewer” led by Dr. Aaron Richmond. Can you help fill me in?
Dear Aimless Reviewer,
Have no fear! Thanks to the wonderful world of Zoom recordings, you can actually view Dr. Aaron Richmond’s webinar anytime by navigating to https://teachpsych.org/JournalReviewer (STP log-in required). In addition, we are going to share some quick tips from the webinar below that you can start to use right away as you consider further developing as a journal reviewer.
- Don’t feel like you have to wait to be invited to be a reviewer! If you’d like to serve as a journal reviewer, consider journals that match your areas of interest and expertise and go to their webpage to sign up to be a reviewer! Often, this involves providing basic information and associated keywords that describe your areas of interest and expertise. It’s important to include as many keywords as you can as the keywords are often used to identify appropriate reviewers when new submissions come in.
- Consider finding a mentor who can help you through your first few reviews or work collaboratively with a more experienced colleague on a review (just be sure to ask permission from the editor first).
Finding the Right Fit
- “Know thyself” and keep that in mind as you make decisions about whether to accept or decline a review opportunity. If something extends far outside your area of expertise, it may be best to decline. However, don’t feel like you have to be an expert on everything that is included in the paper to accept the opportunity to review. Editors will often pick reviewers who bring in different areas of expertise to review so you are not expected to be an expert on everything in the paper.
- Make sure to familiarize yourself with the peer review process. Knowing the role of editors and reviewers and understanding how the peer review process works at the particular journal for which you are wanting to review can help ensure you have a clear understanding of your responsibilities and role as a reviewer. In addition, make sure you are familiar with the many different types of submissions a journal accepts as the criteria for reviewing an article can vary considerably based on the submission type.
- Once you have a paper to review, try reading through it without making notes first to get a good first impression of the paper.
- Realize that writing styles can vary and consider whether the writing represents a fundamental flaw vs. just an issue of style or clarity.
- Be specific and thorough! It helps to provide examples or give evidence related to your critiques. If you feel like an area of related literature was left out, consider providing a citation or two to give the author a good starting point. Also, provide page and line numbers and organize your review by sections to make it easy for both the editor and author to interpret the feedback.
- Write the review as if you were receiving it. Try to provide constructive criticism and avoid being overly harsh. There is usually an opportunity to provide private comments to the editor where you can speak more candidly about an article, if needed. It is also important to think about the audience who is receiving the feedback (i.e., undergraduate authors, graduate student authors, faculty members, international authors, etc.).
- Don’t string an author along. If the paper has fatal flaws, it is better to reject than to send them down the road of making revisions that may never be enough.
- Don’t miss the deadline! If you consistently submit reviews late, you may no longer receive invitations to review.
Making the Most of It
- As an ECP, consider your purpose in doing reviews (why do you want to do them in the first place? Scholarship requirement? Passion for a subject?). As you gain more experience and complete more reviews, you could eventually be invited to be a member of the editorial board or become a journal editor yourself.
- Consider creating an ORCID iD and Publons account so that you can get credit for doing reviews! This can be really helpful when you go to document this service as part of your tenure portfolio or yearly progress reports.
- Being part of the peer review process as an ECP is so important! Not only are you contributing to the field and helping to enable the peer review process, but you can learn a lot about how to write compelling journal articles as well as get exposure to some of the latest research in your field.
Happy reviewing to you all!
Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee
Courtney Gosnell, Ph.D.
Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.
Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.
Molly Metz, Ph.D.
Janet Peters, Ph.D.
Daniel Storage, Ph.D.