How the Editorial Review Board Can Make or Break a Journal

By Erin Watson on May 3, 2022
double-blind To maintain strict ethical standards, the double-blind peer review is a key step in IGI Global’s publishing process for both books and journals. As a full member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), IGI Global understands the need to only publish articles and chapters that have undergone rigorous evaluation from experts in the field. For journals, the Editorial Review Board is responsible for providing scholarly reviews and feedback and so it is integral that these boards remain up-to-date with active experts in the field. As prestigious indexes and directories crack down on the portrayal and activities of these members, it is of the utmost importance that the Editor(s)-in-Chief remain vigilant as to the status and maintenance of their boards.
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Importance of Vetting Editorial Review Boards
While the Editor(s)-in-Chief provide an initial assessment when an article is submitted to their journal, much of the responsibility of ensuring that an article is up to the high-quality standards of the journal is on its Editorial Review Board. Thus, it is imperative that the Editorial Review Board be comprised of researchers and academicians who are experts in fields relevant to the journal’s scope so as to provide accurate and reliable evaluations on work submitted to the journal.
Moreover, reviewers play a significant role in the timely publication of articles. As journals are challenged to increase turnaround speeds from the submission of a manuscript to its publication, it is imperative that reviewers are active and engaged. Inactive reviewers or those who decline to conduct reviews in a timely manner can disrupt the peer review process and cause weeks-long delays.
Additionally, the make-up of the Editorial Review Board is a major point of focus for indexes and directories including Web of Science, Scopus, and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Should a journal’s review board not follow recommended criteria, it is grounds for the journal to be rejected from inclusion in the index.
Finally, there is the unfortunate reality that there are those who will engage in unethical behavior in order to advance their careers. One such behavior that has become a problem is the application to become a reviewer on as many journals as possible, often a particular problem for journals that are highly indexed. The idea is to associate one’s name with as many influential journals as possible in order to elevate one’s status. However, in most cases, these reviewers do not actually have the required expertise to review for these journals and are little help in the peer review process. Alternately, if they do have the expertise, they very often do not conduct timely and thorough reviews because they are committed to so many boards at once. As such, it is essential that Editor(s)-in-Chief are properly vetting Editorial Review Board members and continually maintaining an active and up-to-date board.
Editor(s)-in-Chief Responsibilities
editor When selecting journal review board members, it is crucial for the Editor(s)-in-Chief to take the time to fully vet and review applicants to ensure they meet the appropriate criteria. Potential reviewers are asked to submit a copy of their recent curriculum vitae/resume for review to assist the Editor(s)-in-Chief in their decision-making. This is a critical step that cannot be overlooked; reviewers provide a very important service as the quality of the journal will suffer and trust in IGI Global as a fair and ethical publisher will be questioned if articles are submitted that have not been given a proper review.
Additionally, the Editor(s)-in-Chief must continuously maintain their review boards by reminding members to update their information and affiliations, removing any problematic members, promoting and adding new members as others leave, and ensuring all members match the current scope of the journal.
To establish a suitable board, the Editor(s)-in-Chief must take the time to research each potential reviewer and ensure they are qualified to be a reviewer for their journal. There are a few key areas that should be considered and examined:

  • Education: Reviewers should demonstrate an appropriate level of education and expertise in a field that is relevant to the journal’s scope. They should have obtained their credentials from accredited and recognized institutions.
  • Professional and Academic Experience: A strong history serving in roles that have allowed them to hone their expertise within certain fields should be demonstrated. These experiences should extend into current years and show a continued level of involvement in the field. This can include professional positions, conference activities, association/society memberships, etc.
  • Affiliations: It is vital to know exactly what institution a potential reviewer is associated with, as is confirming that these affiliations are updated regularly. Verifying that these affiliations are accurate helps ensure resumes are honest as well as current. Reviewers should be associated with accredited and recognized institutions. Full affiliations must be listed with the reviewer’s full name at all times in the journal’s materials, and the affiliation must be the current one.
  • Ethicality: Reviewers should show a strong commitment to ethics both in publishing and their professional work. They should not be involved with other predatory journals or be participating in predatory publishing behavior of any kind.
  • Other journal affiliations: Taking the time to note if potential reviewers are already associated with other journals or organizations is key to understanding their history and experience with journals as a whole, as well as their qualifications for reviewing.
  • Activity: Individuals serving as reviewers of a journal should be actively contributing to their field of expertise in order to remain relevant and up-to-date with the latest trends. Moreover, reviewers should be actively conducting reviews for the journal. Long periods of inactivity or consistently declining to review articles is grounds for removal from the board.
Reviewer Responsibilities
Becoming a reviewer is a wonderful experience and a chance for academics and scholars to increase their visibility, build their resumes, and progress their careers. Reviewers are responsible for ensuring their information is continually kept up-to-date and is listed correctly in the journal’s materials. They must maintain strict ethical standards which are applied to both their work and the work they are reviewing. They must remain an active member of the board, declining reviews only when absolutely necessary and doing so in a timely manner.
Reviews must be conducted thoroughly, honestly, and quickly, and should provide authors with constructive criticism and relevant citations to assist the author in improving the overall work. An appropriate evaluation includes an analysis of the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses, suggestions on how to make it more complete, relevant, and readable, as well as specific questions for the authors to address. Ultimately, providing advice that leads to action. Vague statements and no points of action do not provide goals for the authors and will hinder any subsequent revisions.
ORCID iD Reviewers also have a responsibility to only apply to become reviewers for journals that are publishing in areas in which they believe they hold an expert level of knowledge and to which they can devote an appropriate amount of time. It is important that they also connect their ORCID iD to lend further credibility and earn recognition for their work.
Reviewer Evaluation and Opportunities for Promotion
While reviewers bear a lot of responsibility, it is the Editor(s)-in-Chief’s duty to ensure their team is appropriate and qualified before the process is too far along to avoid bigger issues in the future. Consistent evaluations of each reviewer must be done regularly to meet IGI Global’s standards.
Each review board member is evaluated every six months. The timeliness, rigorousness, and quality of each review performed during that period will be considered. Evaluations are scored on both timeliness and quality. High quality and timely reviews are essential to IGI Global’s goal of publishing high-quality work in a timely manner. Exceptional performance will allow the reviewer to move up in the ranks of the editorial board and be considered for special projects. This means that when there is a vacancy, Editorial Review Board members may be promoted to an Associate Editor role. Associate Editors (or a highly qualified, tenured Editorial Review Board member) may even have the potential to be appointed as Editor-in-Chief when there is a vacancy. Poor performance will lead to demotion and eventual removal from the board if the performance continues to decline.
Conclusion
Editor(s)-in-Chief and reviewers themselves have a level of responsibility of ensuring that Editorial Review Boards remain clean, accurate, and up-to-date. To combat issues and trends within the industry today, it is essential that best practices are being followed, that reviewers are appropriately vetted before being added to boards, that inactive or unethical reviewers are removed, and that reviewer information is continually updated. In doing so, journals will achieve maximum indexing potential while serving the needs of the community in an ethical and timely manner.
Individuals seeking to become a reviewer of an IGI Global journal may submit an online application.
About IGI Global

Founded in 1988, IGI Global, an international academic publisher, is committed to producing the highest quality research (as an active full member of the Committee on Publication Ethics “COPE”) and ensuring the timely dissemination of innovative research findings through an expeditious and technologically advanced publishing process. Through their commitment to supporting the research community ahead of profitability, and taking a chance on virtually untapped topic coverage, IGI Global has been able to collaborate with over 150,000+ researchers from some of the most prominent research institutions around the world to publish the most emerging, peer-reviewed research across 350+ topics in 11 subject areas including business, computer science, education, engineering, social sciences, and more. Learn More About IGI Global >

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