It’s finally happened: you have received your first invitation to peer review. You accept, pick up your red pen, and shuffle gleefully in your chair. This is your much anticipated contribution to the scientific community. But then the panic sets in: what does peer review really mean, and what should you look out for while reading the manuscript?
Your review can be challenging for new academics. Your role is to help maintain the quality and integrity of published research and, in turn, protect the public from flawed and misleading findings. This may feel like a daunting task given the admissions of fraudulent research practices, surge in retractions and the reproducibility crisis facing science today – but fighting against these problems is not only vital for scholarly communication, it will also improve your own skills as a researcher.
Your peer review contributions will help you understand what editors are looking for, and you’ll become a better writer and a more successful published author in the process. You’ll keep abreast of research in your field, learn new and best-practice methods, and start examining your own research from that critical vantage point.