Peer review: who you gonna call?


It’s Peer Review Week, a global celebration of the role of peer review in maintaining quality in scholarly communications. This year’s theme of diversity in peer review set me thinking: who decides who is involved in peer review?

Do you need to find peer reviewers, perhaps as editor for a journal or a panel member assessing grant proposal? If so (with apologies to GhostBusters): who you gonna call?

Editors and assessment panels are recruited for their expertise, but even so, can’t be specialists in all the research areas they’re asked to assess. If you need to find peer reviewers for an unfamiliar area, then you may find that publishing and citation data can help you locate researchers with the expertise needed.

Researchers working on the same or closely related problems are likely to cite the same foundational literature and possibly each other, as well as other relevant work. So clustering publications according to citation links can be an insightful way to map the research landscape. This is exactly what SciVal’s ‘Topic’ feature does – grouping publications worldwide into roughly 96,000 clusters of strongly related publications called Topics.


Starting from the researcher whose work you need to find a peer reviewer for, you can see which Topics their existing publications fall into, and then who else worldwide is contributing to those research Topics. This way you can branch out beyond their immediate co-authors and references to find other researchers with expertise in the area – potential peer reviewers to call.


Our brief ‘Find experts’ handout guides you through this process. Contact Katie Evans, Research Analytics Librarian, for assistance.

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