Frequently asked questions

How do editors select reviewers?

A number of factors determine our choice of reviewers. Of primary importance is the reviewer’s expertise, as it is essential that we receive expert feedback on all aspects of the article under consideration. We seek to expand our peer reviewer pool to ensure that the feedback we receive is as global and diverse as the communities we serve. Therefore we often look for new reviewers to bring important perspectives to the review panel while also seeking input from reviewers with previous experience of the journal’s editorial process; this is to ensure consistency in review across manuscripts. We take author suggestions for reviewers into consideration, but are under no obligation to use them, and we honour all reasonable reviewer exclusion requests when the motivation for them is clear and as long as they do not compromise the rigour of the peer review process.

We strive to provide our authors with fair and constructive reviews. If reviewers do not adhere to these expectations, we will not ask them to review again.

How can I become a peer reviewer?

We are always looking for new peer reviewers to ensure that we maintain diversity in our global reviewer pool. One critical element in making yourself visible to our editors is making sure that your work is easy to find online, so that we can understand your expertise and current interests. An updated laboratory webpage is important, as this provides a showcase for your work. Make sure that you have an ORCID account and that you keep your profile up to date. Finally, let the editors know you are interested, either via email or when you meet them at a conference.

Should I agree to review a manuscript if I have co-authored an article with an author of this manuscript?

It depends, and you should talk to the editor. Typically, we do not ask past collaborators to review each other’s manuscripts, but if it has been a sufficiently long period of time (e.g. 3–5 years) since you worked together or if the co-authorship does not reflect a close association, we may make an exception. You should contact the editor to raise a potential competing interest, and they will advise on the best course of action.

Should I agree to review a manuscript if I am working on a similar article?

Please discuss with the editor before you agree to review if you are unsure whether you could provide an unbiased judgement of the work due to your direct involvement in the writing of a similar article.

Should I agree to review a manuscript if I used to be a member of the author’s research group?

It depends on whether you retain a close relationship to the group, and how far you’ve come in establishing your independent career. While we avoid reviews by close associates, in some instances you may be sufficiently independent from your previous group. Please discuss this with the editor in advance of accepting the invitation.

Should I still review a manuscript if I’ve already reviewed it for another journal?

Having reviewed a manuscript for another journal does not constitute a problem, provided that you feel you can objectively assess the manuscript with the standards of our journal in mind. Please discuss your prior experience with the manuscript with the editor if you have any questions or concerns, without disclosing confidential details such as the journal you reviewed for.

How can I become a better peer reviewer?

If you are interested in building your skills as a peer reviewer of Review-type articles or in general, please consult our free online course Focus on Peer Review – Peer reviewing a review paper from Nature Masterclasses for detailed insight into the peer review process. You can also build your skills by offering to provide informal feedback on your colleagues’ manuscripts.

How can I obtain credit for the reviews that I have submitted?

We offer all reviewers the option of downloading a certificate detailing their peer review experience with us. Reviewers can also add reviews to online profiles such as ORCID or Publons.