Finding reviewers

Finding reviewers can sometimes be a bit of struggle and we know this is a common bugbear. We’ve created this section to offer some hints and tips for finding reviewers. We encourage you to use reviewers beyond those that immediately come to mind in order to broaden the diversity of peer reviewers and give more people the experience of reviewing.

Recommended and opposed reviewers

All authors are asked for names of recommended and opposed reviewers when they submit their manuscripts. Authors should give a short justification for opposing a reviewer, either where the reviewer is listed or in the cover letter. Unless the author lists an excessive number of opposed reviewers, we normally respect their request. If you do invite an opposed reviewer, perhaps to get to the crux of a scientific argument, please check the authors’ reason for opposing that person first, in case the reason is not due to a difference in scientific opinion and, when evaluating their review, do bear in mind that a person was listed as opposed. Please also consider this when selecting and inviting other reviewers.

We encourage you to invite recommended reviewers but, where possible, we suggest at least one review should be from a non-recommended reviewer. To find out more about using recommended and non-recommended reviewers check out this pair of blog posts from Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

ScholarOne reviewer finder tool

ScholarOne has introduced the ‘Reviewer Locator Results from the Web of Science’ tool to aid finding reviewers. The tool can be found below ‘Author’s Recommended / Opposed Reviewers’ on the invite reviewers tab of the manuscript. According to ScholarOne, the ‘Reviewer Locator analyzes manuscript metadata and abstracts, linking key entities and topics to create a manuscript ‘fingerprint’. This fingerprint is then compared to the fingerprints of other papers indexed in the Web of Science, finding relevant research in the same field and thus, qualified reviewers’.

In short, it is a useful tool and can prove helpful but you should always check that suggested people are appropriate, are not close to the authors and don’t have any competing interests.

References in the manuscript

The reference list of the manuscript is a great starting point for finding possible reviewers. Look through the reference list for relevant references or authors that have been cited a lot. Using Web of Science, Scopus or even Google Scholar, you can drill down further to look at the citations of relevant authors. Looking at other publications and the authors’ research should give a good idea of their suitability to review.

Online resources

Journal/Author Name Estimator (JANE) – To use this great online tool for suggesting reviewers, simply paste in the abstract and select ‘find articles’. This tool can work well if the abstract is well-written; it is based on data in PubMed, which contains some ecology so worth a go if you’re out of options.

Reviewer lists e.g. DiversifyEEB (Search by keyword)

Collaborative peer review

The BES journals support collaborative peer review as it allows early career researchers to gain experience of reviewing whilst being mentored by their supervisor. If you are tempted to invite a big name in the field but think they might decline, you could suggest that they review the paper collaboratively with their PhD student or research group. Our guidelines on collaborative review can be found here.

Suggested reviewers from declined reviewers

Reviewers that decline have the option of suggesting other reviews, make the most of these suggestions and check out the suitability of the suggestions. You can see suggestions from reviewers who have declined on ScholarOne by selecting the ‘view additional possibilities’ option next to their name.

Further reading

The Methods in Ecology and Evolution blog contains a series of great blog posts on reviewing including:

Ten Top Tips for Reviewing Statistics: A Guide for Ecologists

Reviewing in a Language You Aren’t Fluent In

The DOs and DON’Ts of Selecting Preferred Reviewers

When to Identify Non-Preferred Reviewers

For more information, the BES has produced a Guide to Peer Review. This guide is for early career researchers and provides a succinct overview of the many aspects of peer review, from hands-on practical advice about the actual process to explaining the less tangible aspect, such as reviewer ethics.

Top tips from our Editors

Rob Freckleton, Senior Editor for Methods in Ecology and Evolution gives his top tips for finding reviewers.

Marc Cadotte, past Senior Editor for Journal of Applied Ecology, gives his top tips for finding reviewers.

Natalie Cooper, Associate Editor for Methods in Ecology and Evolution gives her top tip for finding reviewers.

Laura Graham, Associate Editor for Methods in Ecology and Evolution gives her top tip for finding reviewers.

Luca Börger, Associate Editor for Journal of Animal Ecology gives his top tip for finding reviewers.