One of the easiest ways to find peer reviewers for your journal is to use keywords and/or classifications.
Journals often give authors the freedom to submit their own keywords, meaning authors can define their own areas of expertise. Journal editorial teams can then use this information to locate suitable reviewers for each and every manuscript – searching either using the journal’s own database, or using specially designed software, facilitated by PubMed to cast the net further.
What are the benefits of pre-defining keywords?
There’s no doubting that keywords are useful in sourcing reviewers. However, what is often overlooked is the benefit of using of a pre-defined list of keywords in addition to inviting the author to submit suggestions of keywords themselves. Having a pre-determined list of keywords or classifications can be particularly useful when editors are struggling to find reviewers based just on keywords given by the author.
How can I implement this on my journal?
There are two things that should be considered when implementing a pre-defined list of keywords on your journal:
1. Firstly, ensure the list of keywords is as extensive as possible.
This may seem counterintuitive because you are trying to streamline the way you source reviewers. However, if you have a very limited list of predefined terms, there’s a risk that authors will select keywords which are not directly relevant to their research.
2. Secondly, decide if this should be a compulsory field during submission.
Some journals choose to make this compulsory because it facilitates a nuanced approach to sourcing reviewers – using two sources of information rather than one. However, if it is made a required field, there is always the risk, that authors will end up selecting the term closest to their area of expertise, even if it’s not directly relevant.
Ultimately, there isn’t a right or wrong way of setting keywords - it’s entirely dependent on your journal’s individual set up. Below are two case studies of journals successfully operating different forms of classifications and keywords.
Case study 1: A multi-disciplinary journal
The first journal operates on the basis that authors can select their keywords from an extensive list, as well as complementing these – or exclusively selecting – from the list below. This works particularly well because the journal is multi-disciplinary, so it attracts a wide range of submissions looking at different subjects and topics. This approach offers the editorial team a substantial amount of information to help them identify appropriate reviewers.
Case study 2: A journal with a high volume of submissions
The second journal uses an extensive, industry-recognised list of classifications. This has been particularly successful because the journal receives a high volume of submissions. Although the journal isn’t multi-disciplinary, it covers a significant subject area with a wide scope, so having an extensive subject list helps to streamline the reviewer invitation process.
Remember: your peer review site is versatile and dynamic. Our job in the Electronic Editorial System team is to ensure that your journal requirements are set to your specification – including how you’d like to use keywords and classifications.
If you have any questions about keywords and classifications, get in touch with your Global Peer Review contact at Taylor & Francis.