Being a reviewer

by Dr Richard Freeman

Something that can be overlooked when becoming a researcher is the skill of reviewing other people’s academic work. A typical example is being asked to review a submission to a journal. A good set of tips can be found at:

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2007/april-07/twelve-tips-for-reviewers.html

In particular, I think it’s worth highlighting the emphasis on not being overly critical or negative. One of the reasons why I encourage researchers to review other academic’s work is that it’s one of the best ways to improve your own practice. I have found myself reading some poorly-written text and recognising some of my own bad habits that I was able to remove from future writing (I hope!). Similarly, I’ve read examples of clear writing that have served as a guide for how I might write better. Finally, it’s important to remember that you should be trying to help a fellow academic to improve their work – and even the worst submission is the product of somebody’s hard work. Try to make the world a better place!

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
“He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven
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