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ACS Reviewer Lab is Now Part of the ACS Institute

ACS Reviewer Lab, a flagship learning course from ACS Publications, is now available on the ACS Institute. The ACS Institute is a comprehensive learning platform providing educational opportunities spanning topics such as scientific communication, lab safety, and professional development. ACS Reviewer Lab will remain free to all learners.

With this transition, ACS Reviewer Lab features an all-new experience with narration and interactive elements to guide you through the key concepts of peer review. The course was also designed with accessibility in mind, and we have updated and expanded the downloadable resources that summarize each module. You will find the same six modules and rigorous final assessment, which unlocks when the content in all other modules has been viewed.

Whether you are new to peer review, looking to sharpen your skills, or actively mentoring the next generation of reviewers, ACS Reviewer Lab is a great resource!

For more information about ACS Reviewer Lab and everything the ACS Institute has to offer, please visitinstitute.acs.orgtoday!

Celebrating Peer Review Week 2021 

This week marks the 7th annual Peer Review Week (September 20 – 24), an annual global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality.

Peer Review Week 2021 is dedicated to the theme of “identity”, highlighting the role of personal and social identity in peer review and ways the scholarly community can foster more diverse, equitable, and inclusive peer review practices.

ACS Publications would like to thank all our peer reviewers. We appreciate your hard work and dedication to ensuring the highest scientific standards associated with ACS journals.

Here’s what’s going on during Peer Review Week 2021:

Attend an ACS on Campus webinar

Celebrate Peer Review Week with ACS on Campus! Join Inorganic Chemistry Editor-in-Chief William B. Tolman on September 21to learn about the best (and worst!) practices for peer review in your publishing process. All researchers of the sciences, not just chemistry, are encouraged to sign up for this free webinar!

Find out more information and register for free

Suggest reviewers to improve your manuscript

In this Journal of Physical Chemistry C editorial, Anastassia N. Alexandrova and Gregory V. Hartland provide tips for suggesting reviewers that will help you get constructive comments to improve the scientific content and impact of your manuscript.

Read the full editorial

Learn more about peer review with ACS Author University

Learn more about the peer review process in these expert videos. ACS editors share advice on how to be a reviewer and tips for reviewing, including how to structure a review and typical reviewing criteria.

Watch the Videos

Sign up for ACS Reviewer Lab

ACS Reviewer Lab is a free online course created to help educate researchers on the fundamentals of scholarly peer review.

Whether you are new to peer review, looking to sharpen your skills, or actively mentoring the next generation of reviewers, ACS Reviewer Lab is a great resource.

Take the Course Today

Get ACS Reviewer Credit

ACS Reviewer Credit allows reviewers to receive credit for their hard work and contributions to the peer review process through a collaboration with ORCID.

Reviewers are able to receive one credit on their ORCID account for all review activity associated with each manuscript reviewed for a given journal.

Learn More

Track and manage reviews with the ACS Publishing Center

The ACS Publishing Center is the centralized hub for authors and reviewers to prepare and track their submitted manuscripts. Customized to the individual researcher, it allows you to view the status of your submitted work and any manuscripts you may be reviewing.

Visit the ACS Publishing Center

Advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect (DEIR)

ACS Publications is committed to making peer review equitable and inclusive for everyone. Over the past year, we have taken several steps to advance DEIR in our journals – many of which we continue to progress.

Learn more about ACS Publications’ DEIR efforts and resources.

As an essential first step to understanding our position and identifying areas where we need to improve representation, this year we began to collect self-reported demographic data from authors, reviewers, editors, and advisors. We are pleased to share some preliminary results from that survey, below. As we continue to gather and analyze data from our community, we will share more information on trends and areas for us to increase the diversity of all contributors to our journals, including our collective group of peer reviewers.

Click to download a high-quality PDF.

Peer Review Week 2020 – What You Need to Know

This week marks the 6th annual Peer Review Week (September 21 – 25), an annual global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality.

Peer Review Week 2020 is dedicated to the theme of “Trust in Peer Review,” highlighting how the peer review process works and why this helps to build trust in research.

ACS Publications would like to thank all our peer reviewers. We appreciate your hard work and dedication to ensuring the highest scientific standards associated with ACS journals.

Here what ACS Publications is offering this Peer Review Week:

Peer Review webinar

Join the ACS on Campus team and Pamela Tadross, Associate Editor of Organic Process Research & Development, for a rebroadcast of the webinar “Peer Review – Why, How-to and What Not to Do!” at 10 A.M. on Friday, September 25.

In this webinar, you can expect to learn:

  • What editors look for when reviewing submissions
  • Tips for responding to reviewer reports
  • Strategies to evaluate a manuscript
  • Training courses to help you become a reviewer

Register for the webinar.

Peer Review and You

To mark Peer Review Week 2020, Pamela Tadross, Associate Editor of Organic Process Research & Development, has written a special Axial post on the peer review process, you can read her post “Peer-Review and You: How It Works and Why Its Success Depends on Reviewers Like You” here.

2020 Reviewer Awards

I&EC Research is thrilled to announce this year’s 2020 Reviewer Awards! For the fifth year, the global team of editors recognizes reviewers who have made especially notable contributions to the journal. Join us in congratulating these 35 individuals.

ACS Editor’s Thank Peer Reviewers

Editors from Environmental Science & Technology, Analytical Chemistry, and Organometallics would like to thank their reviewers in this short video from ACS Publications.

ACS Reviewer Lab

ACS Reviewer Lab is a free online course created to help educate researchers on the fundamentals of scholarly peer review.

Whether you are new to peer review, looking to sharpen your skills, or actively mentoring the next generation of reviewers, ACS Reviewer Lab is a great resource.

Take the course today.

ACS Reviewer Credit

ACS Reviewer Credit allows reviewers to receive credit for their hard work and contributions to the peer review process through a collaboration with ORCID.

Reviewers are able to receive one credit on their ORCID account for all review activity associated with each manuscript reviewed for a given journal.

Learn more.

Track and manage reviews with the ACS Publishing Center

The ACS Publishing Center is the centralized hub for authors and reviewers to prepare and track their submitted manuscripts. Customized to the individual researcher, it allows you to view the status of your submitted work and any manuscripts you may be reviewing.

Visit the ACS Publishing Center.

Peer-Review and You: How It Works and Why Its Success Depends on Reviewers Like You

The peer-review process can appear intimidating and complex. However, it is an essential element of scientific publishing, ensuring that a manuscript is relevant and suitable for publication and upholding scientific integrity. Peer review helps to maintain high standards for published research. This post will walk you through the peer-review process, show you how reviewers are critical to the success of the process, and give you the tools to become a reviewer.

Peer review is the practice of subjecting scholarly work to the scrutiny of experts in the field (i.e., you, the reviewers) with the goal of validating and improving the content before publication. The peer-review process covers every aspect of your scientific contribution, including your approach to the problem, experimental design, execution of your studies, interpretation of your results, and your scholarly presentation and effectiveness of communication. If you’ve authored a scientific publication, you’ve benefitted from the peer-review process.

The peer-review process starts when you submit your manuscript to the journal through a system such as Paragon Plus, as shown in the flow diagram below. Once submitted, the process begins with a series of pre-screening steps by the editorial office, the Editor-in-Chief, and Associate Editors. Upon passing those evaluations, the manuscript is then sent to reviewers for feedback. Once the feedback has been received, the Associate Editor determines whether to reject the manuscript, accept without revision, or return it to the authors for revision (multiple times if necessary). If a revision is successful in addressing reviewer feedback, the manuscript will ultimately be accepted for publication by the journal.

Credit: ACS on Campus Peer Review Module

Learn More About the Individual Step in the Peer Review Process:

Editorial Pre-Screening

After initial checks by the journal editorial office, the Editor-in-Chief (EiC) evaluates the manuscript to ensure that it fits the scope of the journal, has novelty and urgency, has technical validity, and is of high quality. This pre-screening process is critical to not overburden the reviewer pool and to ensuring timely decisions on manuscripts. Manuscripts not meeting the standards of the journal can be rejected at this point in the process. Meanwhile, those deemed acceptable are assigned to Associate Editors for further screening and action. It is worth noting that the Associate Editors can also determine whether a manuscript meets journal standards, rejecting the manuscript if necessary. Once the assigned Associate Editor determines the manuscript warrants further review, they move on to the next step in the process: selecting reviewers.

Selecting Reviewers

Reviewers are drawn from two different sources: an independent pool of experts maintained by the journal and preferred reviewers recommended by the authors of the manuscript. Regardless of the source of the reviewer, the Associate Editor selects reviewers based on their broad knowledge and understanding of the field; their technical expertise to evaluate the experiments, data, and interpretation; and their ability to offer constructive, fair, and unbiased opinions of the manuscript. As an author, when selecting your preferred reviewers, you should be sure to avoid friends, collaborators, or anyone who could have a conflict of interest.

Reviewers are given a specific (yet, flexible) due date to submit their feedback to the Associate Editor to maintain reasonable timelines for decision-making. Once a sufficient number of reviews have been received, the Associate Editor moves to the next step: making a decision.

Making a Decision

The Associate Editor has several decisions for which they can opt, but they generally fall into three main categories: accept, reject, and revise. To determine which path is most appropriate, the Associate Editor first reads and analyzes each reviewer report alongside the manuscript. Associate Editors will specifically look to see if the manuscript requires revisions or additional experiments to address reviewer feedback and concerns. Once the decision is made, it is communicated to the corresponding authors of the manuscript.

If the decision is to accept the manuscript, no further revision is required, and the manuscript proceeds as is to the publishing office. A decision to accept may come after the initial round of peer-review, or more frequently, following one or more rounds of revision.

If the reviewers provided generally positive feedback but indicated that the manuscript requires some level of revision or addition of new experiments and data, a decision for either major or minor revisions will be communicated. Typically, a decision for major revisions provides the authors more time to address the feedback and will often require additional reviewer feedback following revision to ensure the feedback has been adequately addressed. Several rounds of review and revision may be required to ensure the manuscript meets the journal standards and sufficiently addresses the reviewer’s comments before ultimate acceptance.

Finally, if the majority of the reviewer feedback indicates that the manuscript is not suitable for the journal and will not be improved sufficiently upon revision, a manuscript will typically be rejected. In select situations where a manuscript is rejected primarily based on journal scope and fit, a rejection may be accompanied by an offer to transfer the manuscript to a more suitable journal within the same publishing group. This can be a fantastic way to reduce review time at the new journal by leveraging feedback already provided during the first review with the original journal.

Successfully Dealing with Rejection

From the flow diagram of the peer-review process, you’ll see that there are several decision points where a manuscript may be rejected by either an Editor-in-Chief or Associate Editor. Receiving a rejection can be demoralizing, disappointing, and stressful. Many authors, myself included, have had (multiple) manuscripts communicating years of effort rejected by scientific journals throughout their careers. While your initial reaction might be to feel angry or defensive, there is always the opportunity to successfully lead a rejection toward a positive outcome. Making lemons out of lemonade depends on understanding why your manuscript was rejected by the journal.

If an Editor-in-Chief or Associate editor determined during pre-screening that the manuscript did not meet the journal’s defined scope or standards and you disagree with the decision, you may contact the editorial office and request an explanation. It is possible to appeal the decision if you believe that the significance of your work has been overlooked, but doing so is uncommon and should be done judiciously.

If your manuscript has been rejected after peer-review, it is sometimes best to take a step back after reading the reviewers’ comments to refocus on the science. Approach the comments with a growth mindset and ask yourself how you could improve the content of your manuscript and the communication of that content to your intended audience. Update your manuscript and resubmit to either the same journal or a different one better suited for your work.

Responding to Reviewer Comments

When you receive reviewer comments on your manuscript, you’ll need to address them through the revision process promptly. Whether you add new experiments or update the text to better explain the existing content, you’ll need to provide a point-by-point rebuttal of all the reviewer comments with your revised manuscript.

When I read reviewer comments, I try to approach them with a mindset focused on the audience’s experience and understanding of the manuscript. Essentially, a reviewer’s feedback represents a gap between what my manuscript communicates at the moment and what I want the manuscript to communicate about my research. In revising a manuscript, I think about how I can best bring the audience closer to my intended message and experience. By helping the audience see your research the way you see it, you will more effectively communicate your achievements and improve the impact of your work.

How to Become a Reviewer

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve hopefully noticed that the reviewers are the engine of the peer-review process. Sustainability of the peer-review process depends on journals and editors cultivating a broad pool of independent experts. Three ways to become a reviewer are to establish your expertise in your field, seek out training and practice, and advocate for yourself. By authoring your own published research, attending conferences, networking, and building an online presence, you can enhance your standing and expertise in the scientific community.

The ACS Reviewer Lab is a free online training course that offers hands-on training for new reviewers. Upon completion of the training, it will be reflected in your ACS Publications profile in Paragon Plus that editors like myself can see when selecting reviewers for new manuscripts. Finally, you can advocate for yourself with your research advisors or colleagues in your network. They can list you as suitable alternative reviewers when they are unable to accept an invitation. Reach out to journals directly to indicate your interest in reviewing manuscripts, including your CV and publication record. Serving as a reviewer is one of the most rewarding professional activities available in our field, often bringing you tangential benefits as an author as well.

Anatomy of a Good Review

This table highlights the elements editors expect when receiving feedback from a reviewer on a manuscript.

Credit: ACS on Campus Peer Review Module

In general, the information included in a review is visible to both the authors and the editors with one exception. There is space allocated to share comments only with the editor; some examples of what may be included in this section is information regarding potential conflicts of interest, scientific misconduct, or if you reviewed the manuscript for another journal.

Conclusions

Ultimately, the reliability and sustainability of the peer-review process depend on you, the reviewers, to provide feedback for authors to improve the quality and effectiveness of scientific publications. The scrutiny of our peers is central to upholding scientific integrity and maintaining high standards for published research. The core partnership between authors, editors, and reviewers builds enduring trust in the peer-review process, to the benefit of our field and society at large.

Take the Stress Out of Peer Review

Have you received an invitation to review a manuscript, but you’re not sure whether to accept it? Do you want to be reminded of all the important points to consider when evaluating a manuscript?

As an ACS Reviewer Lab course graduate, you can now access a specially designed toolkit to guide you through the peer-review process in real time.

The toolkit’s decision trees and checklists will take you step-by-step through the key factors to consider before accepting a review (such as conflicts of interest). It also covers how to prepare before you begin, how to assess the manuscript’s technical quality, presentation, and readiness for publication, and how to craft the final written review.

What’s more, you can use this toolkit any time you need it with the click of a button.

What’s Covered in the Toolkit

  • What to consider before accepting a review
  • Ethics/conflicts of interest
  • Preparing for review
  • Assessing significance and technical quality
  • Assessing presentation and readiness for publication
  • Writing your review

Accessing the Toolkit

To access the toolkit, you will need to create a free account on ACS Reviewer Lab and complete the course, which typically takes between two and four hours total. The course will help educate you on the fundamentals of scholarly peer review and has been developed by ACS Editors, leading chemistry researchers, and ACS Publications staff.

Once you have completed the course and passed the assessment, you will unlock graduate benefits, including:

  • Interactive graduate toolkit
  • Certificate of completion to share with your network
  • ACS Reviewer Lab Graduate badge in ACS Paragon Plus, visible to ACS journal editors

Find Out More About ACS Reviewer Lab

 

ACS Publications Signs Agreement with ORCID to Recognize ACS Reviewers

Reviewers of ACS Publications journal articles can now receive public acknowledgment of their work, thanks to a new collaboration with ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID). Reviewers will be able to get credit through their ORCID profile, without revealing which article they’ve reviewed. This change will be especially helpful to young scientists looking to establish their credentials and it will allow all reviewers to present a more complete record of their contributions to science.

Reviewers are essential to scientific publishing. Their work helps both authors and editors, improving manuscripts and making recommendations about acceptance to journal editors. Without them, ACS Publications journals could not maintain their high editorial standards. Yet their contributions are often overlooked since reviewers must work anonymously to ensure that they can evaluate a manuscript impartially. Under this new deal, reviewers will receive the recognition they deserve, while preserving their anonymity.

ORCID is an open registry that assigns a unique identifier to every researcher, eliminating the confusion caused by researchers who happen to have the same name and increasing transparency in the publications process. ORCID makes it easier for readers to find a specific author while also making it easier for authors— and now reviewers— to get the credit they deserve. ORCID launched in 2012 and ACS signed the ORCID Open Letter in 2016, committing to requiring ORCID IDs for authors in all ACS Publications journals.

Learn More About Reviewing for ACS Publications

What is Peer Review?

Peer review is the process of scientific journals seeking the advice of experts in a particular field to help determine if a manuscript submission should be accepted. Those experts (known as reviewers) bring perspectives and subject knowledge different from those of the journal’s editors, from the authors, and each other as well. The collective knowledge of the reviewers and the editors provides the expertise necessary to decide whether to accept and publish a submission. Peer review is necessary to ensure the quality of scientific literature.

What are the Types of Peer Review?

Several systems have evolved for soliciting the opinions of experts on the quality of submitted manuscripts. In the most restrictive version, “double-blind” review, the authors are unknown to the reviewers, and the reviewers are unknown to the authors. Alternatively, in a “single-blind” review process, only the reviewers are anonymous to the authors. In open peer review, the least restrictive model, the reviewers are also known to the authors. Often, comments from reviewers and rebuttals from the authors are published along with the manuscript. Various versions of the submission may also be included. The expectation is that open peer review would yield more constructive and perhaps more discerning feedback. A major disadvantage is that fewer individuals are likely to be willing to review the work.

Most chemistry-related journals use a single-blind process. This provides the identity and affiliation of the author to the reviewers, but not vice versa. The “double-blind” process is considered difficult to implement because of the challenges associated with removing all means of identifying the authors. Scholars in a particular area know about each other’s work. What follows is an examination of the peer review from the single-blind perspective, although most of the discussion applies to all systems.

What are the Steps in the Peer-Review Process?

When a manuscript is submitted to a journal and meets all the submission criteria, then the journal’s editorial team makes an initial decision. They may decline the submission. They can also refer it to an editor who will move it toward a final decision, including accepting the manuscript for publication. Editors are generally assigned based on subject expertise, but sometimes workload and availability play a role. The assigned editor initiates the peer review process.

How are Reviewers Selected are Invited?

Assigned editors use several resources to select potential reviewers. A manuscript’s list of citations can serve as a means of identifying known experts in the field. Authors may sometimes provide a list of preferred reviewers along with their submissions for assigned editors to consider. A journal’s database of reviewers and authors is also a source of potential candidates. It includes information about reviewers, such as their history as a reviewer, availability, and the timeliness and quality of their reviews.

Reviewers with a range of expertise are invited to review a manuscript. This ensures all aspects of the manuscript are evaluated appropriately. Reviewers with multiple areas of expertise may contribute comments on the manuscript as a whole. Other may be asked focus on a specific aspect. The assigned editor should clearly tell the reviewer what is expected of them.

Once the assigned editor has identified suitable reviewers, they begin the peer review process. Then reviewers are invited to evaluate the manuscript. They are given several days to accept or decline the invitation. Those who decline are asked to provide names of other potential reviewers. Most journals seek to obtain feedback from two to four reviewers per article submission.

How Do Reviewers Receive Feedback?

After accepting an invitation to peer review, a reviewer is allowed anywhere between several days to two weeks (depending on the journal) to provide written comments. These include comments for the editor and comments shared with authors. Comments for the editor should be restricted to expressing concerns about potential ethical violations. They should not include comments on the quality of the manuscript.

Reviewers evaluate submissions based on how well the authors answered their research questions. Where the conclusions and implications appropriately derived from the results and findings? Were suitable techniques and methods used? Does the research advance the field? Reviewers also evaluate whether the arguments presented by the authors are sufficient and effective enough to inform and convince a typical reader of the value of the published work. Reviewers ensure the authors meet the standards of the discipline, the results and conclusions are warranted. Ultimately, this helps maintain the integrity of science.

How Do Editors Make Their Decisions?

The assigned editor will take the reviewer’s comments and assessments into account when deciding about a submission. Reviewer feedback is not the only factor in the decision process, but it is certainly a significant factor. Reviews are not “votes” that are tallied but are advised to the assigned editor about the suitability of the manuscript for a specific audience.

Once the assigned editor reaches a decision based on the peer reviews and other factors, the authors are notified of the decision, and completed reviews are sent with the decision letter.

This blog post is adapted from a section of a broader, more authoritative chapter on peer review in the new edition of the ACS Style Guide coming in 2020.

I&EC Research Celebrates Excellence in Peer Review

This week marks the 5th annual Peer Review Week (September 16 – 20). It is also the week I&EC Research, currently celebrating its 110th Anniversary, recognizes the nearly 6,000 people who reviewed for the journal in the last 12 months.

The latest issue of I&ECR presents its 2019 Excellence in Review Awards. The journal’s team of editors, including Editor-in-Chief Professor Phil E. Savage, honors 32 reviewers whose contributions maintain the journal’s status as the world’s largest and most cited general chemical engineering journal that is also fastest to publication. These 32 reviewers come from 15 different countries, on five different continents.

This year’s theme of this year’s Peer Review Week is “Quality” in Peer Review. In his editorial, Professor Savage reminds authors and reviewers of ways to streamline the peer review process to make it more efficient, such as suggesting reviewers who are familiar with your field but not close friends or collaborators, and always responding to an invitation.

The cover for this issue, as well as the complementing editorial, highlights these 32 notable reviewers. Please join the journal in congratulating them!

Read Previous Years’ Excellence in Review Awards

 

ACS Publications Recognizes the Impact of Peer Reviewers

September 16-20, 2019 marks the 5th Annual Peer Review Week. This global event celebrates the essential role peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality. ACS Publications is proud to join individuals, institutions, organizations, and other publishers, who are committed to sharing the central message that good peer review is critical to scholarly research.

This year’s theme is Quality In Peer Review. Join the discussion on twitter through out the week at @PeerRevWeek and on the hashtags #PeerRevWk2019 and #QualityInPeerReview. Don’t miss the Reddit AMA Ask Science interviews on Wednesday, September 18th.

Finally, see how ACS Publications chooses to recognize the impact of its reviewer community, and look for essential resources to help foster quality in peer review.

How to Become a Reviewer

Peer reviewers are the heart of modern scientific publishing. They help journal editors evaluate the quality and technical validity of a paper, as well as assessing how novel the work is and whether it falls within a journal’s scope. Authors are often also reviewers. Editors may expect that chemists submitting to a journal will also be willing to review for it. But how do you become a peer reviewer?

I&EC Research 2019 Reviewer Awards

The I&EC Research 2019 Reviewer Awards published on September 18, 2019. This journal, led by editor-in-chief Philip E. Savage, recognizes 32 reviewers as nominated by the editors. These 32 reviewers come from 15 countries, located on 5 continents, and they have made notable and quality contributions to I&EC Research. Find out who will be awarded this honor for excellence in peer review on Wednesday, and see who was honored in 2018, 2017, and 2016 issues of I&ECR.

Reviewer Lab

ACS Reviewer Lab is a free peer-review training course. Designed by ACS Editors, leading scientific researchers, and ACS Publications staff, this course provides real-life guidance on how to navigate tricky ethical situations, identify core criteria for evaluating manuscripts, and write a first-rate review.

Environmental Science & Technology and Environmental Science & Technology Letters Presents the Excellence in Review Awards

Each November, the editors of Environmental Science & Technology and Environmental Science & Technology present the Excellence in Review Awards. These journals express their sincere and special thanks to all of the individuals awarded for consistently providing scholarly and timely reviews on a large number of manuscripts submitted. Check out last year’s 2018 Excellence in Review Awards.

Environmental Science & Technology Presents the 2018 Reviewer Awards
Environ. Sci. Technol., 2018, 52, 21, 11971-11972
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b05703

Environmental Science & Technology Letters Presents the 2018 Excellence in Review Awards
Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett., 2018, 5, 11, 621
DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.8b00532

Stay up to Date with the ACS Style Guide

A new digital-first edition of the ACS Style Guide is coming in 2020. The new guide will be an indespensible part of any reviewers work. Learn more about the new edition of the ACS Style Guide.

Characterizing Peer Review Comments and Revision from a Writing-to-Learn Assignment Focused on Lewis Structures

Read this 2019 article from S. A. Finkenstaedt-Quinn, E. P. Snyder-White, M. C. Connor, A. Ruggles Gere, and G. V. Shultz published in Journal of Chemical Education.

Characterizing Peer Review Comments and Revision from a Writing-to-Learn Assignment Focused on Lewis Structures
J. Chem. Educ., 2019, 96, 2, 227-237
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.8b00711

Responsible Peer Review

Read this 2018 editorial from ACS Chemical Biology Associate Editor Katrin Karbstein of The Scripps Research Institute.

Responsible Peer Review
ACS Chem. Biol., 2018, 13, 12, 3217-3218
DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.8b01035

Articles Relating to Data Analysis

Data analysis is an important skill for reviewers. Brush up on your skills with these articles.

Quantifying the Interactions between Biomolecules: Guidelines for Assay Design and Data Analysis
ACS Infect. Dis., 2019, 5, 6, 796-808
DOI: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.9b00012

The Ecstasy and Agony of Assay Interference Compounds
ACS Med. Chem. Lett., 2017, 8, 4, 379-382
DOI: 10.1021/acsmedchemlett.7b00056

The Essential Medicinal Chemistry of Curcumin
J. Med. Chem., 2017, 60, 5, 1620-1637
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00975

C&EN Articles Regarding the State of Peer Review

How to Become a Reviewer for ACS Journals

Peer reviewers are the heart of modern scientific publishing. They help journal editors evaluate the quality and technical validity of a paper, as well as assessing how novel the work is and whether it falls within a journal’s scope. Authors are often also reviewers. Editors may expect that chemists submitting to a journal will also be willing to review for it. But how do you become a peer reviewer?

How Do Editors Select Reviewers?

Quality peer reviewers are always in demand in the chemistry community. The review process is more arduous if journals must tap the same small pool of peer reviewers again and again.

Editors choose chemists to review from a pool of experts to independently assess a submission. You need broad knowledge and understanding of your field. Having the technical expertise to evaluate experiments, data, and interpretation is also essential to reviewing. You must also be able to offer constructive, fair, and unbiased opinions in your reviews.

Often an author will suggest specific chemists to evaluate their work. They should void suggesting friends, collaborators, and others with potential conflicts of interest. Editors will also invite chemists from an independent pool to ensure a fair review process.

How Do You Become a Reviewer?

Reviewers typically hold independent research positions, as it takes time to establish a reputation as an expert. If you publish high-quality work in reputable journals, this will improve your chances of being selected. It can also be useful to network at conferences to enhance your standing within the scientific community. Tell colleagues and advisors about your interest so that they can recommend you as a reviewer.

You could also go the direct route and express your interest in reviewing to your chosen journal, along with your CV and publication record. Once you’re given the chance to review, be sure to provide timely, thoughtful, and thorough responses, so the journal’s editorial team will be more likely to want you reviewing again.

Get Reviewer Training 

One way to show you’re serious about becoming a reviewer is to get some training. Getting the right training can also demonstrate that you’d do a good job as reviewer. The free course ACS Reviewer Lab will teach you the finer points of reviewing, including ethical dilemmas, evaluating manuscripts, writing reviews, and more. ACS Publications developed this online course with help from ACS Editors. The course features six interactive modules you can complete on your schedule. 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 want to review for. This allows journals to track and enlist you for the appropriate manuscripts to review instead of shuffling through a pile of CVs.

Network at Professional Conferences and Events

Networking is as important as the sessions you attend at conferences. This is a great time to meet researchers in your field. It’s a chance to 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.

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 as a reviewer. A trusted recommendation is always better than one coming from out of the blue.

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.

Seek Mentorship from More Senior Colleagues Who Review

Reviewing a manuscript can be an educational opportunity for a mentor and their mentees. This is an acceptable practice when reviewing as long as reviewers notify editors of all people who will be consulted during the review. The editors must 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. While reviewing you can further establish your expertise in your field. You will also 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 kinds of research the journal publishes. Serving as a peer reviewer is a considerable responsibility, but makes a lasting contribution to the publication process and science as a whole.

Want to learn more about advancing your chemistry career, including as an author and reviewer? Check out ACS on Campus.