Announcing A New Resource for Peer Review Education: ACS Reviewer Lab™

Peer review is critical to the advancement of science, but few researchers receive formalized education to sharpen their reviewing skills. In fact, a recent survey reported that up to 77% of researchers desire further training. This is astonishing when combined with another study which estimated that over 30 million hours were spent reviewing manuscripts within scientific journals in 2013 alone.

What if researchers had access to better training and could conduct peer review more efficiently? What new opportunities would emerge if we involved more highly-qualified global researchers in the peer review process by providing more formal education in peer review?

That’s where we believe we can make a difference. Later this year, ACS Publications will launch ACS Reviewer Lab™, an online course designed to educate researchers on the fundamentals of peer review. At ACS we believe in equal accessibility for all people and have taken extra steps in our course design to make the course accessible to people with disabilities as outlined in the federal Section 508 guidelines. It features 6 interactive modules covering the basics of peer review and ethics as well as real-life guidance on how to write a high-quality referee report. Designed by ACS Editors, leading scientific researchers, and ACS Publications staff, this detailed course takes users through the entire peer review process, providing discerning examples along the way. Each module is accompanied by challenging exercises to test skill and knowledge. A certificate is awarded upon successful completion of the final assessment. Since the course is fully integrated with ORCID, completion of the course will automatically be recorded in the “Education” section of your ORCID profile.

In the course, you will gain insight into peer review, learn how to navigate tricky ethical situations, and identify personal biases and conflicts of interests that might interfere with your ability to conduct a fair review. We will walk you through the process of evaluating the potential impact, technical merit, and presentation of a manuscript, as well as the best ways to organize and present your thoughts on the work.

We want to be certain we are presenting the most relevant and comprehensive course possible, and with this in mind, we conducted extensive beta-testing to ensure the course will not only help you complete a substantive review but will also help make your next manuscript a stronger, more competitive submission. Here’s a sampling of some feedback we received from our beta testers:

“This is really good; when I started out I had no idea what to review on; this is the handbook.”

“Will definitely recommend all my students to take it. First of all, it teaches them how to write papers—not just how to review—it teaches them what will be assessed.”

“Initiative is great—there was a need for something like this…once the program is established, I’ll have all my post-docs and graduate students go through the course.”

Successful completion of the course indicates to ACS Editors that you have invested in peer review education and demonstrated a high-level of understanding of the skills needed to be a thorough and well-informed reviewer. We will work closely with ACS Editors to consider participants who successfully complete all ACS Reviewer Lab coursework and pass the final assessment as new reviewers for our journals.

The launch is just around the corner. Want to stay informed on the latest developments concerning ACS Reviewer Lab? Visit our website to sign up for updates.

While you wait for the public launch, watch a few ACS Editors explain why they feel peer review is critical to the scientific community:

If you have comments or questions for the author of this post, please e-mail: Axial@acs.org.