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5 proven ways to become an academic peer reviewer

Peer reviewing academic work comes with many benefits, including staying up-to-date on the latest research, adding to your academic CV, and developing critical thinking skills. There are several ways to become a peer reviewer, including publishing your own research, networking, asking for help from supervisors, receiving referrals, and reaching out to editors.


The benefits of peer reviewing academic work

Being a peer reviewer is a valuable experience that comes with many benefits:

  1. By reviewing others’ work, you can stay up-to-date on the latest research and trends in your area of expertise. This helps you to expand your knowledge base, improve your own research skills, and stay current in your field.
  2. The experience gained from peer reviewing is a great addition to your academic CV. It showcases your commitment and engagement to furthering knowledge in your specific field, and demonstrates that reputable journals value your opinion.
  3. The peer review process allows you to develop your critical thinking and analytical skills. By carefully assessing and evaluating others’ work, you can improve your ability to identify strengths and weaknesses in research papers. This, in turn, can help you to improve your own writing and research skills.

It’s important to note that you should not try to review every article that comes across your desk. Instead, focus on carving out a niche and becoming known for your work in that area. This will increase your chances of being recommended for peer review assignments that align with your specific interests and expertise.

#1 Become a peer reviewer by publishing your own research

One of the most common ways to become a peer reviewer is by publishing your own research. By submitting your manuscript to a journal in your field, you’re not only contributing to your academic community, but you’re also showcasing your expertise.

Manuscript submissions are often done via online submission systems. These systems allow you to input your information, including your position, affiliation, and contact details. Additionally, you’ll be asked to provide additional information such as your field of study and keywords describing your research.

Some journal submission systems even provide an option for you to indicate your willingness to review articles for the journal directly. This makes it easier for editors to find qualified peer reviewers for submitted manuscripts.

#2 Become a peer reviewer by networking

Networking is essential to success in any industry, including academia. Attending conferences, for instance, not only allows you to meet like-minded individuals, but it can also lead to opportunities for peer reviewing academic work.

When you build strong relationships with scholars in your field, you increase your chances of being recommended for peer review assignments.

These connections can eventually lead to opportunities for peer review opportunities. As you become more well-known in your area of study, others will think of you when searching for a qualified peer reviewer.

#3 Become a peer reviewer with the help from supervisors

Networking is an excellent way to become a peer reviewer, but as an early career researcher, your networks may still be limited. Fortunately, your supervisor or academic mentor can play a crucial role in connecting you to peer-reviewing opportunities.

Many PhD supervisors and academic mentors are editors or serve on editorial boards of journals. If you are interested in peer-reviewing opportunities, don’t be afraid to ask them for support.

Your supervisor or mentor can help connect you to a journal in your area of expertise or even send you a direct request for peer review when they receive a manuscript in your field.

#4 Become a peer reviewer through referrals

Did you know that many academic journals are facing a shortage of peer reviewers? This means that established academics often receive more review requests than they can handle.

As an early career researcher, such as a PhD student, you can take advantage of this shortage to get noticed as a potential reviewer.

When established academics reject peer review requests (for example due to time constraints), most journals ask for alternative reviewers. One of these alternative reviewers could be you!

Thus, if you’re interested in peer reviewing articles, let your network, including your supervisors and colleagues, know about it. You never know who might be too busy for a review and suggest you to the journal instead.

#5 Become a peer reviewer by reaching out to editors

Sometimes, the best way is to be proactive and reach out to journal editors directly.

Don’t be afraid to send an email to editors expressing your interest in peer reviewing.

The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t receive a response, but it’s worth the effort to get your name out there.

In fact, many editors are happy to receive emails from potential reviewers and might even add your name to their list of experts. This can lead to more opportunities for you to contribute to the academic community and build your reputation in your field.

When reaching out to editors, be sure to introduce yourself and highlight your areas of expertise. You can also include your CV or a list of publications to showcase your credentials.

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