Module 3: Volunteering your Time

Learning Objective


Learning Objective

In this module, you’ll learn how to find the most appropriate journals to work with.



For established, well-published researchers, requests to act as a reviewer are frequent. For new scientists or scholars, as well as for graduate students, getting a invitation to review can take a little more work.

The first thing you will need to do is identify the most appropriate journals to volunteer with. You obviously shouldn’t be looking to History journals if you are a biologist! But even within your field, there can potentially be hundreds of journals to choose from. Making a decision on where to focus your efforts can involve a few factors:

  1. Subject area: even within your discipline, you will probably find journals that are a closer match to your particular expertise. Focus on those.
  2. Prestige: a high-prestige journal can look good on your CV, but may not accept someone with limited experience or an unproven publishing record.
  3. Access: some reviewers are choosing to only volunteer their time for open access journals.

Once you’ve decided on the above criteria, you can determine titles to work with by reviewing the literature you most frequently read, talking with your supervisor and/or colleagues, and by discussing your needs with a librarian. All of these can help you narrow down your choices to a handful of the most relevant, likely journals.

One area of current concern is the rise of so-called “predatory open access journals“, that only exist to collect fees from unsuspecting authors. Your supervisor, colleagues, and librarian can all steer you clear of these unscrupulous publishers that could waste your time and potentially damage your professional reputation. You can also check the Directory of Open Access Journals, which evaluates all of the journals in its listing and removes any problem journals.

Second, once you’ve identified some relevant, quality journals, you’ll need to inform them of your interest. One option is to ask your supervisor to write directly to the journal on your behalf, indicating his or her support for you becoming a reviewer. Alternatively, you can contact the journal yourself, including a copy of your CV and a statement of your interests, areas of expertise, your understanding of the peer review process, and your appreciation of the work of that particular journal. Just like with a job search, don’t just send out a generic message to several journals. Instead, carefully review the aims, scope, and policies of each journal and reference those in your letter. Taking the time to demonstrate that you understand their needs will go a long way in making you a stand out candidate.





Take a look through the open access journals in your field using the Directory of Open Access Journals. Do any of these look like good places for you to volunteer?

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One Comment on "Module 3: Volunteering your Time"

  1. Profile photo of Venise Bryan Venise Bryan says:

    International Journal of Health and Education
    Global Journal of Nursing Research
    BMC Nursing

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