Identifying Reviewers - From Outsider to Insider in Scholarly Publishing - Writing as Professional Development

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Identifying Reviewers
From Outsider to Insider in Scholarly Publishing
Writing as Professional Development

Who are these people called peer reviewers? Usually, they are university faculty members with specialized expertise and interest in the topic of the manuscript. For research manuscripts, they may be selected more as experts on the methods (e.g., factor analysis, survey research) than on the subject matter per se.

The editor typically identifies possible reviewers using the journal’s database of published authors. To illustrate, if an author submits an observational study on teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) to university students in Taiwan, the editor might select one reviewer who is knowledgeable about EFL, another with expertise on observational research, and still another familiar with the context and culture. Sometimes, a manuscript comes in and a search of the journal data base yields no one with the requisite expertise who is available to review. When this occurs, the editor typically will search key words from the manuscript in recent publications outside the specific journal to locate scholars with expertise in the field who are willing to conduct the review.

Reviewers are excluded from reviewing manuscripts if they have:

· manuscripts assigned to them currently or completed a review very recently

· an apparent connection to the authors (e.g., former co-authors, departmental colleagues, dissertation chairperson)

· a conflict of interest with the authors or a vested interest in the success or failure of the publication

· provided cursory, unhelpful reviews in the past (e.g., “I enjoyed reading this article very much. I recommend that it be published.”)

· been hypercritical of others’ work and provided little useful feedback

Activity 12.2 How to Get Started Reviewing

If you aspire to becoming a member of an editorial board, there are several strategies to consider. They include: (1) attend the open meetings of professional organizations where the publications program is discussed, (2) submit your vita and a letter to the editor volunteering to serve as a reviewer, (3) talk to book sales representatives about reviewing (commercial publishers sometimes pay a small honorarium), (4) give your business card to book and journal editors at conferences and contact them afterwards, and (5) scan the conference program for sessions on writing for publication to network with publishers/editors.