SAGE Advice: Tips From Top Peer Reviewers

SAGE has just announced an extended partnership with Publons, adding a massive 1,000 journals to the network for automated reviewer recognition. To help us celebrate, tourism researcher Sara Dolnicar and a handful of other SAGE reviewers have shared their background in research and review, and offered some tips for new reviewers on the scene...

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Explore the peer review landscape with tourism expert, Sara Dolnicar

              Prof. Sara Dolnicar

            Prof. Sara Dolnicar

Professor Sara Dolnicar knows what it takes to go above and beyond in peer review. Working as a social scientist and tourism researcher, Sara has reviewed manuscripts for several years now and picked up numerous Publons Peer Review Awards for her efforts along the way.

Working at the University of Queensland, Sara was pleased (albeit exhausted!) to learn she was the top contributing reviewer for SAGE's Journal of Travel Research.


Publons: Can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your research?

Sara: I am a Professor of Tourism at The University of Queensland. My primary research interest is the improvement of market segmentation methodology and of measures used in social science research. I apply my work primarily to tourism, but also social marketing challenges, such as environmental volunteering, foster care, and public acceptance of recycled water. Recently, I have developed a keen interest in empirically testing approaches to make tourists behave in a more environmentally-friendly way (see my TEDx talk) and in peer to peer accommodation networks, such as Airbnb (download my free book).

What was your first peer reviewing experience like?

I really cannot remember, it was so long ago. It was probably a terrible review; I probably wrote a long dot-point list of all the things that are wrong with the paper. But I do remember that it was my reviewing work that allowed me to develop really good working relationships with editors. Reviewing helped me position myself as a researcher.

But I do remember that it was my reviewing work that allowed me to develop really good working relationships with editors. Reviewing helped me position myself as a researcher.

You're the top reviewer contributing to SAGE's Journal of Travel Research on Publons - how do you feel about that?

Tired!

No seriously, I feel happy and privileged to be able to contribute to the Journal of Travel Research in this way. The journal was always an excellent fit with the kind of work I was doing as a researcher. As a consequence, I have published a lot of my own work in the Journal of Travel Research and have always felt responsible for making sure that papers in my area of expertise published in the journal make a contribution that is of value to either academics or industry (or both!) and are rigorous.

I am happy to assist the journal by providing input. If I think of all the constructive feedback I have received about my papers from the Journal of Travel Research over the past two decades, the least I can do is help other researchers by providing evaluations of their work and, more importantly, recommendations how they can improve it. Although I am now myself an Editor-in-Chief of a tourism journal (Annals of Tourism Research), I continue to review for the Journal of Travel Research. I see knowledge development as a collective, not competitive, effort.

What advice do you have for early career researchers who are reviewing?

Do it. Do it well. Do it promptly. And be constructive. All reviewers love to find mistakes. The best reviewers are those who offer the authors constructive suggestions on how they could improve their paper.

How do you believe editors are important to the quality assurance process.

Editors are the key to quality assurance. But quality assurance is not what makes a field of research flourish. Putting forward courageous new ideas moves us forward. Providing a platform for sharing and debating courageous new ideas is what I believe the role of Editors is. This is a tricky role because the reviewing system is inherently conservative: we as editors and reviewers tend to view our primary role in finding flaws, when really we should be looking for rough diamonds among manuscripts and leveraging the review process to polish them, to make them sparkle and shine.

The theme for PRW18 is "Diversity and Inclusion" in peer review. What does this mean to you?

Diversity of thought, and with it diversity of authors and reviewers, is the key to a flourishing field of research.

Diversity of thought, and with it diversity of authors and reviewers, is the key to a flourishing field of research.

Photo of compass courtesy of phrawr.