This is a joint post by Steve Heard and Timothée Poisot (who blogs over here). Steve is an Associate Editor for The American Naturalist and for FACETS, while Timothée is an Associate Editor for PLOS Computational Biology and Methods in Ecology & Evolution. However, the opinions here are our own, and may or may not be shared by those journals, by other AEs, or by anyone, really.
Working as an (associate) editor can be rewarding, but it’s not always easy – in part because finding reviewers can be a challenge. Perhaps unsurprisingly, editors often think first to call on senior scientists; but many of us have learned that this isn’t the only or the best path to securing helpful peer reviews. In our experience, some of the best reviews come from early career researchers (ECRs). ECR reviewers tend to complete reviews on time, offer comprehensive comments reflecting deep familiarity with up-to-date literature, and to be constructive and kind while delivering criticism. Online survey data confirm that our positive impressions of ECR reviewers are widely shared among editors (who nonetheless underuse ECRs), while other surveys indicate that ECRs are very willing to review, with many even feeling honoured by such requests. [Both sets of surveys mentioned here were particular to ecology and evolution, although we suspect the results apply more widely.]
So there’s a paradox here: we (editors in general) love ECR reviews, but we underuse them. Why? Continue reading