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Finding Peer Reviewers

Overview

We aim to make decisions on all submitted manuscripts, including commissioned content, based on the advice of at least two independent reviewers. To give an informed and unbiased opinion on a manuscript, reviewers should be well qualified, with a significant and steady publication record, and an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and methodology. Some manuscripts may require additional independent reviewers, particularly if multi-disciplinary or if they require the specialized skills of a statistician.

To ensure timely turnaround times, we try to obtain two agreed reviewers within 10 days from the assignment. If you are struggling to find reviewers, please feel free to contact the in-house Editor for further assistance. 

Criteria for a Suitable Reviewer

  • Should have at least 15 publications 
  • Ideally having published more than 10 articles in the past 10 years
  • Not too senior (over 400 publications), as they are likely to be very busy
  • Active in the relevant field and/or methodology as judged by their publication record
  • Free of any potential bias:
    - No co-publications with an author of the submitted manuscript in the last 5 years
    - Not currently or recently affiliated at the same institution as an author
    - Not excluded by the authors (we allow authors to exclude up to 3 reviewers)
    - Not known to have particularly strong views or opinions on the topic, unless this can be balanced by additional reviewers
  • Reviewers should be ‘independent’ of one another, i.e.
    - Not currently working in the same lab/institution

In some instances, you can be flexible:

  • Where a reviewer has co-published with an author once or twice as a small proportion of a prolific publishing history
  • Where a reviewer has co-published with an author once or twice in articles with an extensive author list, e.g. a multi-centre trial

Finding Potential Reviewers

To supplement your own knowledge of researchers in the field, we recommend investigating some additional avenues:

  • Search for reviewers using the new Springer Nature Reviewer Finder Tool. Find out more information about the tool here.
  • Assess the manuscript reference list to find reviewers with specialist knowledge of the topic and/or methodology.
  • Approach invited speakers of meetings/conferences.
  • Check suggestions made by candidates who have declined to review within Editorial Manager.
  • Consider authors from articles already published within your journal on similar topics.
  • Make use of online tools (see below):

Author-Suggested Reviewers

Authors are allowed to suggest a number of potential reviewers during submission. If author-suggested reviewers are invited, it is advised to always use at least one reviewer who was not suggested by the authors. You should check the potential reviewer’s expertise and credentials yourself, and ensure that there are no competing interests between the potential reviewer and the authors. Ideally, an institutional email address should be used. In a small number of cases, the email address provided may not be genuine or the reviewer may be poorly qualified.

Online Tools

If you're still struggling to find reviewers after utilizing the above suggestions, we recommend making use of readily available online tools. Finding new reviewers has distinct advantages over exhausting your personal contacts, as reviewers can be found with exactly the right expertise, you may increase the audience of your journal and new reviewers may then consider your journal for future submissions.

To search using keywords, we recommend trying:

To search by title and abstract, we recommend trying:

This webinar may also be helpful. Please note this is not specific for BMC Biology, though the general rules should be the same.