What it Means to be a Reviewer for a Journal

It has been a while since we published a blog about reviews. In this blog, I want to turn away from the review form and begin to look at the topic of what it means to be a reviewer. Most academic journals use a review process and this means that they are often seeking new reviewers. The IAFOR Journal of Education is no exception! However, there are requirements that you need to possess to be a reviewer.

It is more than just putting your hand up!

Being a reviewer is a responsible position. When a call goes out for reviewer applications, there is usually a list of what is required. The usual minimum requirements from the IAFOR Journal of Education for entry level reviewing are:

    • a PhD or Masters in a relevant field;
    • an emerging publication record;
    • excellent English language skills;
    • strong critical assessment abilities;
    • excellent time management skills.

The words in italics are the key indicators that you must be able to demonstrate. In this, and the next four blogs, we will look at the criteria one at a time, but not in the order listed. Let’s start with the easy (for some) criterion first.


You have probably heard the word “manana” used at some time: it has become synonymous with the attitude of “I’ll get round to it”. Excellent time management skills do not allow for manana! Journals work to tight publication schedules and, as with the IAFOR Journal of Education, there may be several issues a year. Would-be reviewers need to check the time schedule before applying for a relevant position. Perhaps the issue that you feel qualified for as a possible reviewer is taking submissions across your busiest examination period and you will be spending hours marking. Can you also do 1 to 2 reviews at the same time? Maybe it is your summer break. You have the time, but you don’t check your email regularly: who wants to work on a break? These are both legitimate reasons not to be able to review at that time – so don’t apply to review for issues that are in publication mode at that time!

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Deadlines serve a purpose. As well as checking when an issue is receiving submissions and being published (the review period), you also need to consider whether you are good at meeting deadlines. Reviewers are generally given about 3 weeks to complete a review. One week’s grace is common, anything beyond is annoying and you are unlikely to remain a reviewer if you miss a deadline more than once. Remember, reviewing requires more than one quick read of a submission: you are being asked to make a critical assessment of the paper (more on this in another blog) and to provide constructive feedback to the author(s). If your view of meeting a deadline is “do it the night before” or “do it at the stroke of midnight on deadline day”, then perhaps reviewing is not for you.

So, you have excellent time management skills. Do you have excellent English language skills? This is the topic of the next blog.

Yvonne Masters
Executive Editor, IAFOR Journal of Education

JoE is an internationally reviewed and editorially independent interdisciplinary journal associated with IAFOR’s international conferences on education. Like all IAFOR publications, it is freely available to read online, and is free of publication fees for authors.

Indexed in: Scopus, DOAJ, ERIC, EBSCO Discovery Service, MIAR, TROVE, Scilit, SHERPA/RoMEO, WorldCat, Google Scholar, and Ulrich's™. DOIs are assigned to each published issue and article via Crossref.

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