How to Review for an ACS Journal

What does an early career researcher have to do to start reviewing for a particular journal? Peer review is a critical part of science and the scholarly publishing landscape. Researchers often ask “how can I review for an ACS journal?” While there’s no one defined path to becoming a reviewer, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of being invited to review future manuscripts. Read on for tips on how to become an ACS reviewer.

1. Enroll in ACS Reviewer Lab

The first thing we suggest is to enroll in ACS Reviewer Lab.  Developed with help from ACS editors, this free online course features six interactive modules that cover the fundamentals of peer review, including ethics and the components of a high-quality referee report. It will help you learn the ropes of reviewing, and you will receive a certificate upon completion of the course. At the end of the course, you can select your areas of expertise as well as the journals you are interested in reviewing for. This allows us to track and enlist you for the appropriate manuscripts instead of shuffling through a pile of CVs.

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2. Network at Professional Conferences

We’d argue that networking is just as important as the sessions you attend at conferences. This is a great time to meet researchers in your field, identify your interests, and express your desire to review for relevant journals. Even if you don’t run into an editor at the conference, building your network at these events can increase the likelihood of someone writing you down as a recommended reviewer for their manuscript. Have lots of business cards handy and make sure to include your personal website and up-to-date contact details.

3. Ask a Colleague Who Already Reviews to Recommend You

Do you know a prolific reviewer who works in your lab? Or maybe a colleague from a past job? Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask if they could recommend you to an ACS editor. A trusted recommendation is always better than one coming from out of the blue.

4. Become an ACS Member and Network with Your Local Chapter

It’s not always about “what you know.” Sometimes, “who you know” matters more. Another easy way to build your network is to become an ACS member. Membership affords you many networking opportunities as well as discounts on ACS National Meeting registration and open access publishing fees.  Local Sections help chemists stay active and involved in their communities by providing a forum for networking and collaboration and by supporting chemists’ efforts to involve their communities with science.

5. Seek Mentorship from More Senior Colleagues Who Review

Editors understand that reviewing a manuscript can be an educational opportunity for a mentor and their mentees. ACS considers this an acceptable practice as long as reviewers notify the journal editors of all people who will be consulted during the review process and the editors approve this action before the manuscript is shared with those being mentored. So go ahead and ask your principal investigator; chances are they’ll appreciate you stepping up to take some reviews off their plate.

There are many benefits to becoming a reviewer. As a reviewer, you can further establish your expertise in your field, get an early look at the potentially groundbreaking research, develop critical thinking skills, and gain experience writing and respond to constructive criticism. Even better, you will learn what mistakes to avoid as an author, and gain insight into what editors are looking for in a high-quality publication. Serving as a peer reviewer is a considerable responsibility, but makes a lasting contribution to the publication process and science as a whole.

To learn more tips about how to become an ACS reviewer as well as best practices, enroll in ACS Reviewer Lab.

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