Advance your career with Peer Review
Peer review is an important component of scientific activity. It’s central to our ability to trust and understand research. But it doesn’t only improve research - it can also accelerate your career.
Top researchers on Publons have used their review records to help secure promotions, receive prestigious fellowships, and more. We asked them, and many more researchers worldwide, for best practice tips to help you do the same.
For example, your contributions can help get you ahead in individual evaluations, including:
- Performance reviews
- Competency assessments
- Development plans
- Salary reviews
It’s also a good idea to include your peer review and editorial contributions with your CV or biosketch when applying for:
- Promotion applications
- New jobs and fellowships
- Funding and grant applications (individual and institutional)
- Continuing professional development
- Green cards
Institutions value commitment and work in service. Some universities even require evidence of it. That’s why it’s important to share your peer review and editorial contributions in a clearly measured, defined, and validated way.
Here are some clues for choosing which contributions to highlight:
- The total number of contributions shows you’re a trusted expert in the field
- The variety of journals you’ve reviewed demonstrates you’re known in different fields
- Your contributions to specific journals sharpens the focus for fellowships and grants
- Your contributions to journals with Impact Factors over 1.0 reflects peer esteem
- Your Publons ranking and awards show your consistent and high level of contributions
Keep reading for more specific tips and tools related to your application.
At universities like Harvard, peer review and editorial activities must be reported in annual evaluations. Similarly, the National Postdoctoral Association expects researchers to list these contributions in development plans and proposals. It’s usually requested under the category ‘Professional development’, ‘Professional services’, or simply, ‘Professionalism’.
Here’s how you can prepare for these evaluations:
Download your verified peer review record for a summary of your contributions. If it’s for a performance review, you can set the timeline to only show contributions from the date of your last review.
Fill out your self-assessment or personal development form. You’ll likely be asked (in writing or in person) to list specific professional service activities you completed over a particular duration of time. Your tailored review record can help with this. Our experts recommend highlighting your editorial work, and the scale and extent of your reviewing contributions.
Bring the record with you to the review meeting if verified evidence is required.
Elaborate on skills: If your peer review and editorial activities aren’t specifically raised, highlight the transferable skills it has given you, including communication and analysis.
Set targets: Don’t forget that performance evaluations involve setting mutually defined goals. If you haven’t been asked to peer review as much as you’d like, raise this with your supervisor and decide on ways to fix this (e.g join the Publons Academy).
Promotion, job, funding and grant applications
Peer review and editorial contributions show commitment to your profession, and highlight the esteem to which you are held by the editors in your field. This makes them a valuable addition to promotion, job, funding and grant applications. On top of that, your verified review record will help you build an evidence-based case in one of the harder categories to prove: Service.
The protocol and forms for these applications all differ, but your CV or biosketch is a common requirement. This will either be passed on to the institution involved, or to the referees representing you. (See below for Institutional funding).
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Institutions often ask that you populate a “standard” or “common” CV to maintain consistency in the review process. (See examples from Oxford University, UK, and the University of Otago, New Zealand). These generally cover three main categories: Research, Teaching, and Service. Your peer review and editorial activities belong to the latter category.
Here’s how to include your contributions in a verifiable way:
Download your verified peer review record for a summary of your peer review and editorial contributions.
Create a ‘Professional service’ category (or similar - Oxford University suggests ‘Other Appointments and Affiliations’). Summarise your activities using one or more of the options in the introduction of this guide.
Add a link to your Publons profile or your personal website (which lists your various research profiles), where possible.
Write your personal statement and include a short sentence summarising your peer review and editorial activity.
A biosketch is a short CV that demonstrates your contributions to science for funding and grant purposes. It helps demonstrate you and any other staff involved have enough experience to execute the research plan.
Biosketches are often highly tailored to match the institution and purpose (see an example from the National Institute of Health). While some don’t include a section to list peer review and editorial activities, our experts recommend adding a short summary of your contributions in your personal statement.
Here a few key steps:
Download your verified peer review record on Publons for a summary of your peer review and editorial contributions.
Summarise your reviewing activities in your personal statement, defining them as contributions to Service. Our experts recommend focusing your reviewing activity on the specific topic of the fund or grant (i.e. Urban Planning).
Attach your verified peer review record to your application documents or send to your referee.
Institutions often seek funding on the basis of their researchers’ collective performance. Staff may be asked to prepare a portfolio of their research and research outputs for this, of which each is given a certain weighting (e.g. 70% research, 30% research outputs).
Research outputs tend to require evidence of peer esteem and contributions to the research environment. In certain portfolios, including New Zealand’s Performance-based Research Fund (PBRF), indicators of peer esteem include reviewing, refereeing, judging, evaluating and examining the academic work of others.
Here are some steps you can take to prepare your evidence portfolio:
- Download your verified peer review record on Publons for a summary of your peer review and editorial contributions.
List your review activities. You may be asked to summarise all of your editorial and peer review activities in one or two entries. If so, the text summary at the top of your review record will be a useful guide. If you’re asked to list a few of your top contributions, think about highlighting your activities for top-ranked journals, and any Publons awards you’ve won.
Verify your reviews by adding your review record to your portfolio (if possible) or including a link to your Publons profile: “See publons.com/author/1/ for verification and more details." If your institution uses Symplectic Elements, your review record can be uploaded as evidence there.
Green Card for Outstanding Researcher
If you’re a professor or researcher seeking an employment-based, first-preference visa in the United States, you must meet certain criteria. Primarily, you must demonstrate international recognition for your outstanding achievements in a particular academic field.
One of the many documents you’re asked to provide is: “Evidence of participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field.”
Experts on Publons have successfully used their verified peer review record on Publons as evidence of this - as well as some of the statistical data on their profile - and recommend you do the same. Simply download it from Publons and include it in your application.
Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an important requirement for physicians to update and develop their skills, knowledge and services.
The Health and Care Professions Council (UK) list some example activities that might make up your CPD. Peer Review falls under the Work-based learning category and, in general, there are two ways to obtain CPD credit:
In other cases you will need to provide a self-certification with evidence of your work. This may require filling in a Direct Credit Application Form, or writing a personal statement, using your review record as evidence.
The specific steps you will need to take depend on your accreditation body. Here are some helpful steps you can take.
Download your verified peer review record on Publons for a summary of your peer review and editorial contributions. If necessary, you can set the timeline to only show contributions within the audit period.
Write your personal statement or fill in your Direct Credit Application Form. The summary text at the top of your review record will be a helpful guide. If you’re writing your personal statement, you may need to highlight how your peer review and editorial activities improve the quality of your professional work. For example, you could describe how it enhances your skills in communication and analysis.
Include supporting evidence. You may be requested to provide evidence for any activities you refer to in your personal statement. If so, list your record in the ‘summary of supporting evidence’ section, and attach it to your profile. Alternatively, you could include a link to your Publons profile, e.g “See publons.com/author/1/ for verification and more details." The same applies for your Direct Credit Application Form.