Reviewing for the Royal Society
The Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions, launched in 1665, was the world’s first scientific journal which established the fundamental principles of scientific priority and peer review. Our publishing has always been underpinned by the support and expertise of peer reviewers.
Today, the Royal Society publishes ten peer reviewed journals covering the full breadth of the biological, physical and cross-disciplinary sciences and the history of science.
Surveys show that the highest rated reasons for reviewing a paper are social, as such ‘playing my part as a member of the academic community’ and ‘reciprocating the benefit gained when others review my papers’. It can be a rewarding experience that can help in your own research, your professional development and in furthering your career.
More widely there is a growing recognition that researchers should be assessed on a broader range of research outputs (beyond the Impact Factor of the journal they publish in) such as peer review activity. Receiving credit is another great reason to review.
Credit for reviewers
The Royal Society has partnered with Publons to give each reviewer official recognition for their peer review work. Publons records, verifies, and showcases peer review contributions, which can be used in promotion and grant applications. The reviewer gets credit even if the reviews are anonymous and the manuscript is never published.
Simply opt-in to get credit through Publons when reporting via ScholarOne to add the review to the reviewer profile.
Our surveys have also highlighted that credit by the journal is important to reviewers. Further to this, six of our journals publish an annual citable article containing the list of reviewers who have opted to receive this recognition.
Publishing peer review reports
Three of the Royal Society journals offer transparency by publishing peer review information (such as reviewer reports, decision letter and response) alongside published articles. Reviewing in these journals is anonymous by default but reviewers have the option to sign their names. The option of signing reports allows reviewers to claim credit. We have found that the opportunity of publishing reports leads to better peer review. Reviewers’ suggestions to improve the paper are available to everyone as examples of what makes a good review. In summary, the whole peer review process becomes more trusted because of transparency.
Improving the reviewer experience
The editorial team are currently evaluating practices and the online processes to find ways to improve the reviewers’ experience, including:
- Ensuring data supporting articles is easy to access
- Making the reviewer report forms as concise as possible
- Providing email and telephone support to all reviewers
- Providing the decision outcome for the paper they reviewed; reviewers claiming reviews on Publons will also receive a link to the published article