Purpose – The aim of this study is to examine how reviewers for academic journals learn to carry out the task of peer review and the issues they face in doing this. Design/methodology/approach – A total of 45 reviewers completed a questionnaire which asked about their experience in doing peer reviews, how they had learnt to do them, and the issues they faced in doing these reviews. Follow up emails were also sent to reviewers in order to seek further elaboration on the answers they had provided in the questionnaire. Findings – Over half of the reviewers had learnt to do reviews by reading reviews of their own submissions to peer‐reviewed journals. Others had learnt to write reviews by just doing them; that is, by practice. The most challenging aspect for the reviewers was writing reviewers' reports that were critical but still constructive. There was no consensus on the most straightforward aspects of writing peer reviews. Practical implications – The study has implications for reviewer development, proposing an experiential, “learning by doing” approach to the training of reviewers rather than a didactic, information transmission style one. Social implications – The study has implications for reviewer development, proposing an experiential, “learning by doing” approach to the training of reviewers rather than a didactic, information transmission style one. Originality/value – The study provides insights into how reviewers learn to write peer reviews and the challenges they face in doing this. The paper also suggests strategies for improving reviewer development which can have benefits, especially for early career researchers.
International Journal for Researcher Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 17, 2013
Keywords: Early career researchers; Academic writing; Editorial peer review; Reviewer development; Scholarly publication
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