Calling SEB members: referee for JXB

23 Nov 2016 - By: Jonathan Ingram

Calling SEB members: referee for JXB

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Scientists volunteering their time in peer review are essential for the progress of research. By supporting JXB (Journal of Experimental Botany), SEB members can be confident that they are supporting ‘their’ journal (it is owned by, and provides funding to, the society). And if you haven’t been a reviewer before, you might be surprised at how early in their careers many people start. 

It is worth remembering that the time you give to peer review is critical for any scientific journal to succeed, so your participation directly influences the academic landscape. JXB is a community journal, owned by the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) and run by scientists. These are people who care deeply about plant science and the next generation of researchers. Partly this can be seen through the journal’s overall approach, with particularly high standards of publishing and ethical practice, together with putting together the best possible deals on the dissemination of knowledge – JXB’s Open Access model is unique among plant science journals. But it is also about personal connections, such as giving careful feedback to authors about their work, as well as supporting early-career researchers. 

What’s in it for me?

There are a number of reasons why you might want to become a peer reviewer for JXB, beyond its scientific community background. Most tangibly, perhaps, there’s direct career enhancement. You’ll develop a better sense of the research that’s happening in your area but which hasn’t yet made it to publication. Moreover you’ll develop your abilities in the appraisal of papers, so important as you put together your own research for public exposure. Being an active reviewer can be important for job applications and promotion too. Looking more long term, if you become a regular contributor you might be invited to join JXB’s board of reviewers, and in due course this could lead to a position as an academic editor. It’s worth adding that there is also the sure knowledge that you are contributing to the pursuit of knowledge. It can seem a bit high-minded and get forgotten amid our hectic schedules, but isn’t it what brings most people into science in the first place?

New to peer review?

If you’re early in your career, at what point do you have the required expertise to help JXB? It’s particularly about having a track record of publications. Remember that when you’re doing your PhD then there will come a point when you know more about the very specific area that you’re covering than anybody else in the world. By the time you’ve been awarded the qualification, you’ll have developed your understanding, and once you’ve started publishing you’ll be noticed and well placed to be a peer reviewer. It’s a well-trodden path, and early-career scientists are an important part of the overall body of reviewers. Remember, too, that you aren’t making the decision about a paper – that task rests with the editor. 

Consider the things close to home as well. Make sure senior colleagues where you are employed are aware of your interest, and they may well make use of your offer, perhaps in co-reviewing work. A last word: if you do get asked to referee by JXB, make sure you do it in the time allocated. This is important if you want to get asked again, since all journals are – quite rightly – under constant pressure from authors to ensure that peer review is completed in a timely fashion.

Journal of Experimental Botany publishes an exciting mix of research, review and comment on fundamental questions of broad interest in plant science. Regular special issues highlight key areas. Peer review is the cornerstone of the journal’s work – the expert critical assessment of other researchers’ papers which is essential for them to be published. It’s anonymous, and those involved will have expertise in the subject matter of the paper sufficient to be able to provide advice about the work. Editors take this advice, usually from two to three reviewers, and make their decisions.


Author: Jonathan Ingram
Category: Journal of Experimental Botany
Jonathan Ingram - Author Profile

Jonathan Ingram

Jonathan Ingram is Senior Commissioning Editor/ Science Writer for Journal of Experimental Botany. Jonathan moved from lab research into publishing and communications with the launch of Trends in Plant Science in 1995, then going on to New Phytologist and, in the third sector, Age UK and Mind.