The benefits of being a peer reviewer

Four of our reviewers discuss the rewards of encouraging others to publish with RCNi 

Four of our reviewers discuss the rewards of encouraging others to publish with RCNi 

Picture: iStock

When asked about the principles that had guided his career, Hollywood actor Jack Lemmon replied that it was important to ‘send the elevator back down’.

He was using a metaphor to describe something that is true in all professions – namely the responsibility as we progress to want the same, if not greater, success for those who are climbing the potentially perilous career ladder.

Ian Hulatt

In nursing this takes many forms; being kind to those nervously doing their initial clinical placement, supporting colleagues who face a promotion interview, or perhaps seeing the potential in a junior colleague and supporting their development even if it means they leave us behind are a few examples.

As we find ourselves keen or even compelled to publish, it’s essential that there is a body of peers who are prepared to give us their views on our efforts.

We probably all remember the first time we had something published and the thrill it gave us. However, we may not be so aware of the process that lies behind that, or even that we can become involved.

Below, three experienced reviewers explain why they engage in this process and the benefits that they personally accrue. So why not join them and send the elevator back down?

Ian Hulatt is consultant editor of Mental Health Practice

It keeps me up to date


In my role as RCN mental health professional lead and head of nursing at South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust there is an expectation that I maintain a thorough understanding of issues relating to the workforce, research and clinical development – and there is so much out there.

Conducting peer reviews is stimulating, keeps me up to date and is a rewarding responsibility.

I have a passion for diversity, inclusion and clinical expertise in working with those who experience psychosis, so I am always on the lookout for papers that include these areas and demonstrate co-production.

Catherine Gamble is RCN professional lead for mental health nursing


It’s improved my writing

Meg Polacsek

Most of us lead busy lives as we juggle our home, research and work responsibilities. So why take on additional work by becoming a reviewer?

First, I am an early-career researcher looking for opportunities to establish myself in my field. Second, reviewing papers has broadened my knowledge of my field and beyond. Third, being part of the peer review process has improved my own academic writing and helped me to expand my professional networks at national and international levels.

Finally, having drawn on hundreds of peer reviewed papers to inform my own studies and work, it seems reasonable to offer the same service to other researchers. I have found the process of peer review to be interesting, inspiring and not at all onerous. Being a reviewer is a win-win opportunity.

Meg Polacsek is a research assistant at the National Ageing Research Institute, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria, Australia

It benefits me professionally

Satwant Singh

I have had the pleasure and opportunity to be a peer reviewer for Mental Health Practice and a number of other journals. Being a peer reviewer has benefited me professionally and personally.

On a professional level, it has validated my experience as a mental health nurse in terms of knowledge and skills. In addition it has ensured that I remain current with practice and research in the field of mental health.

In personal terms it has increased my motivation to develop an enquiring mind, to explore avenues of good practice, and engage more in research by supporting my colleagues, providing opportunities and contributing to research.

Being a peer reviewer makes me appreciate the importance of research, sharing good practice and encouraging creativity and flexibility in clinical practice.

Satwant Singh is an accredited cognitive behavioural therapist, trainer and supervisor

Further information

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