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How to Review Articles

Become a reviewer | Things to consider | What to include | Your recommendation | Webinar | Web of Science Academy

Peer review is essential for filtering out poor quality articles by assessing the validity and integrity of the research. We value the work done by peer reviewers in the academic community, who facilitate the process of publication and drive research within their fields of expertise. Please visit the Reviewer Rewards page to learn more about discounts and free journal access offered to reviewers of articles for Sage journals.

If you are an inexperienced or first-time reviewer, the peer review process may seem daunting. In fact, peer review can be a very rewarding process that allows you to contribute to the development of your field and hone your own research and writing skills. The resources below will explain what peer review involves and help you to write useful reviews.

How to become a reviewer

There are three ways to register as a reviewer.

1. Create a journal-specific reviewer account on Sage Track. Search for the journal’s name here and then click the ‘Submit paper’ link. This will take you to the peer review system where you can create an account.

Why create an account on a specific journal Sage Track site?  

  • You will be part of the journal’s reviewer database.
  • You can make your profile more attractive by adding keywords related to your areas of expertise to boost your chances of being invited to review.
  • Editors can rate your reviews which may increase your chances of being invited to review again.

2. Contact the journal editor or editorial office directly. In your communication, express your interest, summarize your expertise, and present yourself as a valuable reviewer.

Why contact the editor or editorial office directly?   

  • If you’re unsure if your area of expertise fits the journal's scope you can double-check with the editor or editorial office directly before registering your details on the Web of Science or the journal’s Sage Track site.  
  • Editors get a firsthand look at your experience and expertise.  
  • This is an opportunity for you to introduce yourself and your interests to the editor to increase your chances of being invited to review.  

3. Sign up to the Web of Science Reviewer Recognition Service. Indicate your interest in reviewing for a journal by clicking on the journal’s Reviewer Recognition page. Editors use Reviewer Recognition to find suitable reviewers for their journals and may contact you directly via the Reviewer Recognition site.

Why sign up to WoS Reviewer Recognition?  

  • Editors can clearly see your interest in reviewing for their journal.  
  • Editors can look into your reviewer insights, including which other journals you are reviewing for.
  • Editors can rate reviewers as ‘excellent’.
  • You can review your satisfaction of Reviewer Recognition.
  • You can receive weekly email updates summarizing your reviewer activity on the site. 
  • For Sage Journals, a claimed review will result in the individual’s name being listed as a reviewer for that journal. 
  • Co-reviewers can also receive credit on Reviewer Recognition.

Once you are registered as a reviewer, the editors will send you an invitation to review if a manuscript in your area of expertise is submitted.

We understand that our reviewers are busy, so it may not always be possible for you to accept an invitation to review. To avoid delays, please inform the editor as soon as possible if you are unable to accept an invitation to review or encounter any issues after accepting. If you cannot review a manuscript, we appreciate if you can suggest an alternative reviewer.

Tip: To further increase your chances of receiving review invitations, see our comprehensive blog post on Steps to Strengthen Your Reviewer Profile.



Things to consider before you begin a review

  • Timing
    Inform the editor immediately if you will not be able to meet the deadline and keep your availability updated in Sage Track to avoid receiving invitations to review when you are unavailable.
  • Suitability
    Do you have any reason why you should not review the submission? If in doubt, check with the journal’s editor. Learn more about your ethical responsibilities as a reviewer.
  • Individual Journal Reviewer Guidelines
    Some journals ask reviewers to answer specific questions, so check what is expected before beginning your review.
  • Confidentiality
    You must not share the content of a paper you have been invited to review, unless you have permission from the journal’s editor. If you suspect that author misconduct has taken place, only discuss this with the editor.
  • Co-reviewing
    Inform the journal editor if you wish to collaborate on a review with a colleague or student. See the Ethics and Responsibility page for further instructions on this.

You may also wish to refer to COPE’s guide on what to consider when asked to peer review a manuscript before beginning a review.

What to include in a review

Watch our short video, How to Conduct a Peer Review, for a step-by-step walkthrough of the review process. Alternatively, you can download our Reviewer's Guide for written instructions on how to assess a manuscript and what to include in a review.



Making your recommendation

In addition to your review comments, you will likely be expected to select an overall recommendation to the editor. Sage’s most common recommendation types are:

Accept: No further revision required. The manuscript is publishable in its current form.

The majority of articles require revision before reaching this stage.

Minor Revision: The paper is mostly sound but will be sent back to the authors for minor corrections and clarifications such as the addition of minor citations or the tweaking of arguments.

These revisions should not involve any major changes. However, changes should be clearly marked for the attention of the previous reviewers. The paper may be subject to re-review.

Major Revision: The principle of the article is sound and it has a chance of being accepted but requires substantial change to be made. This may include further experiments or analysis, the inclusion of additional literature or theory, or an improvement of arguments and conclusions. The authors are required to submit a point-by-point response to the reviewers and the paper will be subject to a re-review. 

If issues of quality, novelty and/or contribution* cannot be addressed through revision, the reviewer should recommend rejection rather than revision. Editors withhold the right to reject the paper should revisions be insufficient.

Reject: The manuscript is of insufficient quality, novelty or significance to warrant publication.

Even when recommending rejection, the reviewer is encouraged to share their suggestions for improvement in the Comments to the Authors field.

If you would like to give us feedback on your experience of reviewing for a Sage journal to help us to improve our systems, please contact

*Check the journal Aims and Scope for any specific requirements with regard to levels of novelty and/or contribution.

How to Be a Peer Reviewer webinar

Considering becoming a reviewer or getting more involved with peer review? Our free webinar will guide you through the process of conducting peer review, including how to get started, basic principles of reviewing articles, what journal editors expect from reviewers, and important considerations such as research ethics and reviewer responsibilities. Learn more here

Learn more with the Web of Science Academy

The Web of Science Academy offers free-of-charge short courses providing researchers with the skills and experience required to become an expert peer reviewer. Courses cover:

  • What's expected of you as a reviewer
  • What to look for in a manuscript
  • How to write a review
  • Co-reviewing with a mentor

A certificate is awarded on completion of the course.