Registering areas of expertise
External reviewers all have specific areas of expertise, but the way in which we request that these specialities be registered can have a big impact on both the journal and the reviewer experience.
The peer review process is full of pitfalls that can waste valuable time-to-publication. Improving efficiency in the registration of areas of expertise can help to ensure the retention of highly qualified external reviewers, make the selection of reviewers more effective in the future, and save time for you peer review process in the long run by starting with a good match between reviewer and manuscript.
So how would we recommend that your external reviewers indicate their area of expertise?
Keywording is a popular way of registering areas of expertise for external reviewers for many journals, and also quite manageable for reviewers when done in the “right” way. Whether the keywords be presented in a drop down list menu or typed manually, they can be used to denote a speciality quickly and easily, and have the added advantage of being highly searchable. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with keyword lists. Remember, your external reviewers are reading manuscripts ad honorem, so make this an easy task and limit the number of keywords where possible! Scrolling through thousands of keywords is tedious and requires a lot of time. It may become a frustrating task for the reviewer and discourage them from reviewing in the future. Try using an apt number of keywords for main topics, which will both allow reviewers to select quickly, and allow co-editors to easily identify relevant experts in the database for future manuscript reviews. If you can keep the keywords manageable, your external experts will be bound to save energy for one more small, yet very important, task…
Adding a short description:
In addition to keywording, it can be a great advantage to allow space for your external reviewers to write a short description of an area of expertise in paragraph form. This more detailed description of research interests will be an invaluable complement to the straightforward keyword list, and will give future co-editors a bit more background information to employ in the invitation process for the next manuscript.
In short, registering an of area of expertise through a combination of keywords and a brief description of area of expertise in paragraph form is both manageable for the external reviewer and provides excellent information for your database, which will aid in the future selection of reviewers, and the overall efficiency of your journal.
“A combination of keywords and a brief description is both manageable for the external reviewer and provides excellent information for your database.”