We received a question at the Nature Network ‘Ask the Editor’ forum which I thought readers of this blog might find useful.
Q: I once reviewed several manuscripts for a good journal, but it is on behalf of my Ph.D boss. Now, I am a postdoc and wonder how to become a reviewer? Thanks for any suggestions.
A. At Nature, we ask our peer-reviewers to identify anyone who helps them with their review. (The reviewers promise to keep the ms confidential, in advance of being sent it, and undertake to ensure that anyone they show it to also keeps it confidential). Therefore, we often discover (and regularly use) good new reviewers by this method. Many senior reviewers ask junior colleagues to review a ms as part of their mentoring, and are very good at assigning credit to these junior colleagues.
I suggest that if you help your boss or another colleague with his or her reviews in future, you ask that person to name you as a collaborator when he/she sends the journal the review, so your name gets known.
If you have been a co-author on your boss’s papers, you could contact the journal that published the work and offer to review (providing the information that you’ve published in that journal).
I think that as you publish in your own right, journal editors will get to know of you and start to ask you to review for them.
If you meet any journal editors at conferences you attend, you could let them know that you’d be interested in peer-reviewing for their journal.