Becoming a Reviewer

Question: I would appreciate your advice and thoughts on getting into the reviewing process for some good journals. Thanks. Good question.


There are several ways. First volunteer to review for the conferences. AoM's Entrepreneurship Division, USASBE, and several other conferences ask for reviewers. This gives you a base, and gets you started in the process and in credentialing. Note that these conferences do almost nothing to help orient or train reviewers. But its a guaranteed start.

Second, look at your list of mentors and see what journals they are on. Ask them if they could recommend you to the editors they know. The safest way to get on a board is from a recommendation form an existing board member. I would think good mentors do this, but I could really be in the minority in such thinking.

Third, plan on meeting editors of journals. Places where you have published are your best bet, since you've shown you can do work of interest to the readers, at the level of quality of the journal. When you meet the editor, express your interest in reviewing. Follow this up with a note restating your interest and areas of expertise, and include your resume or CV, and any really good articles you've published outside the editor's journal (s/he already knows about the articles s/he published).

Note that this extends to editors of special issues too. There are more of these every day, and they need specialized reviewers. As soon as you see a call for an area where you are qualified, contact the special issue editor.


For regular issues and recommendations from existing reviewers, what is likely to happen is the editor will send you one paper to review as an ad hoc reviewer. This is your "test." Timeliness is the number one requirement (sad but true). Careful consideration of the paper is the second (but typically new reviewers go overboard trying to prove how carefully they have thought about EVERYTHING in the paper). Match to the culture is third. Some journals (like ETP) want reviews that help authors develop. Other journals (like AMJ) just want to show what is wrong, what few things are acceptable, and move on to the next paper. If you are unsure, aim to be more developmental - its safer.


The more junior you are, the harder it is to get onto boards. This is exacerbated by journal quality (its easier to get onto a "C" journal's board than an "A" journal's board as a newly minted assistant professor). It is ameliorated by being "THE" expert in a field (usually either an esoteric or newly invented/diffused concept or methodology). If you're one of the few who understand SEM or e-commerce, then your chance of going onto boards early increases. The area/method needs to be truly "au currant" and very "hot" in terms of potential submissions. Being closely, publicly, and immediately identified with the idea/method (through conference presentations, workshops, technical papers, grants, etc.) helps.

If you're not leading edge, then your appointment depends more on developing a very coherent, easily abstracted, body of published work. For example, for many I am known as "the infrastructure expert." That describes a set of my papers in a way immediately identifiable to editors. Thus, publishing in lots of different areas doesn't help. While every board needs a couple of "eclectics," those positions are few, and hard to obtain.

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