How to select reviewers

Below you will find the EASE 7 step guide to finding and selecting reviewers.

EASE 7-step guide

1.  Consider what expertise is required

Establish what types of expertise are needed for the paper. Often a reviewer is expected to comment on the full manuscript, but you may also want input by specialists on specific aspects (e.g. statistics, data, methodology, population or setting). A multi- or trandisciplinary study might require reviewers from different disciplines.

2. Consider diversity and inclusion

Consider gender, geographical and cultural background, and career stage (e.g. inclusion of early career researchers) of your reviewers to diversify your pool and possibly get perspectives you would have missed otherwise.

For more on diversity and inclusion in peer review we recommend you check the following resources:

3.  Search for reviewers

Look for experts for all the areas of expertise and backgrounds identified. Potential sources include: internal journal reviewer pool, editorial board members, recommendations from authors, the paper’s reference list, databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, Dimensions or Publons, speakers at relevant conferences, commenters on the preprint (if there is one). Identify more people than you need because several may decline to review.

Aside bibliographic databases, the following list of sources might be useful when finding reviewers:

  • Anne O’Tate (free)
    Identifies the top authors associated with a PubMed search query.
  • Elsevier’s Find reviewers using Scopus (available for Elsevier Editors)
    Suggests experts based on natural language processing of the Scopus database.
  • Journal/Author Name Estimator (JANE) (free)
    Identifies reviewers, journals and citations that are associated with a PubMed search query.
  • Publons (free)
    Database which enables gathering and searching for individuals’ publications, citation metrics, verified peer review and editor experience.
  • PubReMiner (free)
    Identifies the top ranked authors associated with a PubMed search query. Provides an overview of research interests, and journals were most of publications related to the query are published.
  • Reviewer Finder (Springer Nature) (premium)
    Compares manuscript submissions against Springer Nature database of experts and their publications.
  • Reviewer Locator (Clarivate) (premium)
    Compares manuscript submissions against Web of Science Core Collection content to generate a list of experts as potential reviewers (integrated with Scholar One).

4.  Check the reviewers

Check the potential reviewers:

  • look at their publication record
  • check if they are active in the field e.g. via their recent publications or ongoing grants, projects or activities
  • check for an institutional email address, or
  • other information to confirm their identity and expertise.

5.  Check for potential competing interests

Consider any potential biases or competing interests that may impact an objective evaluation: Has the reviewer previously published with the authors? Has the author specifically asked that some reviewers are not invited?

6.  Check for reviewer availability

Check when was the last time the reviewer reviewed for your journal, or even how many public reviews they have done recently (Publons) to avoid overburdening them. If they are busy, look for an alternative.

7.   Send an invite

Proceed to send invitations. A personal message can be more effective than automated invitations; when approaching a reviewer for the first time, consider a personalised email listing why you would value their opinion. Include substitutes (e.g. a collaborator of the selected reviewer) or ask reviewers who decline for suggestions.

Aim to have at least two reviewers per manuscript, among which at least one should be selected independently of author suggestions. If an insufficient number of reviewers agrees, select new reviewers following the same steps.