Today is the first day of peer review week. One of the issues that many people bring up about the current system of peer review is that there is very little formal training. There are guidance documents available (including the BES Guide to Peer Review), workshops on peer review can be found at some conferences and some senior academics teach their PhD students or post-docs about the process. In general though, peer review training is fairly hard to come by.
This is something that people have told us (the BES publications team) at conferences and through surveys, so we’re doing something about it. From October 2017 until April 2018 Methods in Ecology and Evolution is going to be partnering with the BES Quantitative Ecology Special Interest Group to run a trial Peer Review Mentoring Scheme.
The trial scheme is going to focus on statistical ecology (as we receive a lot of statistical papers at Methods in Ecology and Evolution), but if it goes well, we’ll be looking at other areas of expertise too.
Applications for Mentor and Mentee positions are now open. If you’re an experienced statistical ecologist or evolutionary biologist or an Early Career Researcher in those fields, we’d love to receive an application from you.
How Will the Scheme Work?
At this stage, it would probably be helpful to let you know a little bit about how the scheme will work. Our plan is to pair mentors and mentees based on areas of expertise. You don’t need to be based in the same institution, or even in the same country, to be matched with your mentor/mentee. Communication will be over the internet, by Skype or email, or by phone – whatever the two people are most comfortable with. There’ll be support from the Methods Editorial Office, but we encourage pairs to talk directly to each other.
When a mentee is invited to review a paper, the mentor will be CC’d into the email. Both people will have access to the manuscript and will receive all communication from the Associate Editor. For each review, there will be four basic steps:
- The mentee will read the manuscript and write a draft review
- The mentor will assess the review and send feedback using a scoresheet (which we’ll provide)
- The mentee will revise their review based on the comments that they receive
- The mentee will submit the review through ScholarOne
We know that this process will take a little longer than a normal review, so mentee/mentor pairs will have three weeks to complete a review, rather than the usual two. There’ll also be support from the editorial office for the mentees when submitting their reviews to the system.
Who Can Apply to be a Mentor?
If you’re a statistical ecologist or evolutionary biologist and you’d like to pass your reviewing experience on to an Early Career Researcher, you can be a mentor. Mentors should regularly review statistical manuscripts for ecology and/or evolutionary biology journals. While we’d love to receive applications from people who have reviewed for Methods in Ecology and Evolution in the past, this is not a prerequisite. You don’t need to be at a particular career stage to be a mentor either – if you feel that you have experience and expertise in reviewing, you’re eligible to apply to be a mentor.
Who Can Apply to be a Mentee?
If you consider yourself to be an Early Career Researcher and want to gain reviewing experience, you’re eligible to apply for the mentee role. Mentees need to have at least started working towards their PhD, but don’t need to have received it yet. If you’ve reviewed before, but still don’t feel entirely comfortable with the peer review process you can still apply. There’s no age restriction for the programme either.
Where Can You Apply?
Applications are now open for both the Mentor and Mentee positions. The closing date for applications will be Sunday 24 September and we’ll aim to contact all applicants within a couple of weeks of applications closing.
If you have any questions about the Peer Reviewer Mentoring Scheme, please contact the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Assistant Editor Chris Grieves.