peer review for the juniors, a shortcut to joining the giants

The process of assessing and getting feedback on scientific articles submitted for publication in scientific journals is called peer reviewing. It is an essential and beneficial process for junior researchers since it can help them to promote their research abilities, knowledge, and participation in the scientific community. Juniors can also learn from the latest research developments, methods, and results in their specific discipline and leverage them to come up with new ideas and plan their research projects. They can also increase their writing skills and learn to present their points of view clearly and logically by reviewing papers critically and constructively. There are also other benefits juniors can achieve by reviewing scientific papers, and this article will discuss such advantages to clarify how reviewing can be helpful for new researchers, what are possible challenges, and finally, how they can find peer review opportunities to enhance their experiences.

Benefits of peer review for Juniors

As mentioned in the introduction, peer review would be an essential skill for juniors since it brings many advantages to their career development and scientific participation. Some of these advantages are as follows:

  • Keeping themselves up-to-date:

Reviewing papers in the junior’s field of study can help them to find out about the latest research developments, methods, technical analysis, and recent findings before they are published. This can also help them spot research gaps, generate new ideas, and design future research projects accordingly.

  • Boosting writing skills:

Critically, carefully, and constructively reviewing papers will help juniors to increase their writing skills and learn how to express their points clearly, convincingly, and rationally. They can also learn from the feedback received from other reviewers and editors on their papers.

  • Learning about the reviewing process:

When junior researchers take part in a review process, they will understand the requirements, criteria, expectations, and standards of different journals and disciplines. Learning how to handle rejection, revise and improve their papers, and appropriately respond to reviewers’ comments.

  • Constructing reputation and network:

Regularly, professionally, and skillfully reviewing scientific papers will help junior researchers to establish themselves as experts in their discipline and get recognized by editors, authors, and peers. This will be a great shortcut to expand their network and connect with other researchers who have common interests or perspectives and work with them.

  • Contributing to science:

Reviewing scientific articles ethically and responsibly will assist junior researchers in the advancements of science and the quality and standards of academic publishing. They can also help to make sure that research is done with integrity and reproducibility.

Challenges of peer review juniors may face

However, the peer-reviewing process has always been challenging, and it needs training and guidance for junior researchers to do it well. So, despite the advantages of reviewing papers, it may have some challenges:

  • Find peer-reviewing opportunities

Juniors may not get many invitations to review articles since they are not well-known or noticeable by editors. To overcome such problems, they can make an online profile on platforms like ORCID or Publons, sign up as reviewers on journal websites, or ask their mentors or experienced and older colleagues to suggest them as reviewers.

  • Handling workload

Many junior researchers may face competing demands regarding their time and energy from their research, teaching, or other duties. To manage their workload efficiently, they should only accept reviews within their scope and interests, set reasonable deadlines, and prioritize their tasks accordingly.

  • Resolving conflicts

New researchers may face a conflict of interest or bias when reviewing articles from authors or institutions they may know personally or professionally. To avoid such situations ethically, they should disclose any possible conflicts to the journal editors before agreeing on the review assignment or reject the invitation if they cannot be objective or fair.

  • Giving constructive feedback

It may be difficult and a source of struggle for new researchers to write helpful, respectful, and specific feedback for authors. So, to write a constructive one, they should follow the journal’s instructions and criteria for evaluation, highlight both strengths and weaknesses of the article, provide strong suggestions or tips for improvement, and avoid personal attacks or rude comments.

To overcome such challenges and enhance their peer review skills, they can look for guidance from experienced reviewers or editors, participate in workshops or online courses on peer review, or refer to resources such as COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers.

How can you find peer review opportunities in your field?

New researchers can find various peer review opportunities in their field in different ways based on their experience level and network. Some methods and suggestions they can use to find peer review opportunities are as follow:

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