A beginner’s guide to reviewing manuscripts in ecology and conservation

Christopher Lepczyk, Roarke Donnelly


Peer review is a hallmark of scientific publishing, yet finding peers to conduct reviews is increasingly challenging. Some attribute this challenge to the “tragedy of the referee commons,” wherein selfish behaviors related to the publication of scientific manuscripts lead to unsustainable use of potential referees and a reduction in the quality of scientific publications. To address the tragedy and maintain the quality of scientific publications, we could increase the degree to which junior referees are involved in the peer review process. Because these potential referees often have limited relevant experience and limited access to useful resources, we have developed a guide to reviewing manuscripts submitted for publication in journals that focus on conservation, ecology, or evolution. Herein, we provide an overview of the peer review process, discuss the role of junior reviewers in this process, and discuss how reviews should be conducted. This guide can serve to train both new and junior referees as well as to provide a refresher for senior referees.


critique, criticism, editor, manuscript review, peer-review, referee

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