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Depending on the journal you’re publishing to, you may or may not need to find reviewers for your article. In this post, we’ll touch on how to choose reviewers for manuscript submissions, including how to find reviewers for journal articles. Since most journals don’t keep a list or database of reviewers, this can very often fall into your realm of responsibility. Your journal may ask you to suggest reviewers for paper submission, so in this post we’ll outline how to suggest reviewers for journal articles.
Likewise, perhaps you’re an editor for a journal. Finding appropriate reviewers can take up a lot of your time, and since more and more articles are being published, it can sometimes be difficult to find and select reviewers for journal articles.
How to Find Reviewers for Journal Submissions
It’s considered prestigious to be a reviewer, similar to being on the editorial board of a journal, so it’s not exceptionally difficult to have someone say yes to your request. But, the tricky part may be in finding reviewers for journal submissions.
A good starting point is to start with researchers who are referenced in the manuscript. Keep a database with their specialty or area of research, as well as notes on if they’ve peer reviewed articles and if so, how many.
Another source can be through specialized searches to find out who is being published regularly in the field of study. In your database, you can rank your potential reviewers by looking at the number of publications on the specific paper’s topic. This will help you find the most prominent researchers.
Another bit of information to collect on potential reviewers is their country. Particularly for medical journals, where treatment of diseases may vary, it’s helpful to have a manuscript reviewed by international peers. You also want your reviewer pool to be diverse, so thinking in that realm can be helpful. Consider reviewers that reflect the diversity of the audience. This can include keeping track of gender, where the reviewer’s are in their career stage, etc.
If a reviewer has been invited, but declines to review the specific article in question, ask them for suggestions for other potential reviewers. If you have a pool of reviewers, ask them for more suggestions to keep that pool deep, otherwise you may run into (or create) reviewer fatigue.
Don’t forget to utilize tools designed to help you find qualified reviewers. There are several reviewer locator tools, including automated databases that look for potential reviewers based on article keywords and abstracts. Other tools help you find reviewers based on the subject matter.
How to Select Reviewers for Journal Submissions
When you have your database of potential reviewers, now double-check for possible conflicts of interest. These can include:
- Publishing recently (typically within the last three years) with the author, or other recent work with the author
- Someone who may be sponsored by a pharmaceutical company that’s developing a competing medication
- Work within the same research group or institution as the author (within the last three years, typically). An exception to this is if the author has worked with a potential reviewer on a collaborative project (e.g. DARPA or EU), or if the author and potential reviewer have co-organized or co-chaired a conference or event
- Any history of supervising the author’s work, or if the author has supervised the reviewer’s work
- If any personal (or professional) benefit may result from being a reviewer, or any indirect or direct financial interest in the manuscript that is being reviewed
- Any personal relationship, including close friendship
Once you have your list of potential reviewers, you’ll need to collect their contact information. It’s usually easy to find an email address and/or phone number by looking at the correspondence section of their most recent article. But, sometimes you’ll have to dig deeper with an internet query, email finder tool or phone calls to make sure you have the most up-to-date details.
If you’re the author, and have been asked to make suggestions for reviewers, your journal will have the final say on who they ask to review your manuscript, so don’t be disappointed if one or more of your recommendations is rejected by the editorial board.
How to Oppose Reviewers
As an author, just as you may be asked to submit a list of potential reviewers, many journals will ask you to indicate who you may want to oppose as a reviewer due to a conflict of interest, or some other reason. So, you’ll need to gather their contact details, as well. In addition to their name and primary institution, make sure your statement of the reason you oppose this reviewer is clearly stated. A separate list or database can be helpful here.
Keep in mind, just like for anyone you recommend to review, that the editorial board of your chosen journal will have final say on who they invite, and exclude, to review your manuscript. They’ll keep any oppositions you have in mind, but that’s about it.
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