At the ESEA Conference recently held in Cork, I spoke to several journal editors about the challenges they had in recruiting reviewers. I was reminded of our conversations this morning as I completed my 50th referee report since 2017. The data is presented to the right.
I thought this number was high, until at a conference in Belfast last month where a delegate told me they do roughly two referee reports per week! That’s more than 100 a year.
When I spoke to the editors at our conference about getting reviewers, they told me that many simply ignore emails while others just decline.
I have declined to review, when invited, less than 5% of the time. The reasons for not reviewing were due to timing constraints (editor wanted a 7-day review), lack of expertise in the area and unreasonable administration requests when asked to review.
I find it an honour to review work. It makes you part of the community of scholars and helps build relationships with others. It also builds your profile and standing in an area. You learn a lot from reading papers that you might not ordinarily read.
Surprisingly to me at least, editors told me rejection of invitations to review was acutely true of younger academics. I would encourage anyone at the early stage of their career to review as often as you can – assuming you have the expertise – as it can only help in the journey ahead.