ACS Publications


ACS Reviewer Lab is a free online course created to help educate researchers on the fundamentals of scholarly peer review. Whether you are new to peer review, looking to sharpen your skills, or actively mentoring the next generation of reviewers, ACS Reviewer Lab is a great resource.

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About the course

ACS Reviewer Lab was developed by ACS Editors, leading chemistry researchers, and ACS Publications staff to provide educational tools for researchers’ eager to volunteer their reviewing skills, and to confidently and effectively serve as referees for scientific journals.

The course features six interactive modules, each with quizzes, videos, and downloadable summaries.

  1. Introduction to Peer Review
  2. Ethics in Peer Review
  3. Preparing for Review
  4. Assessing Significance and Technical Quality
  5. Assessing Presentation and Readiness for Publication
  6. Writing your Review

The entire course typically takes 2 to 4 hours to complete and can be taken any time. Once all modules are completed, you will have the opportunity to take the final assessment. Upon passing, you will receive a certificate of completion. Graduates can also express interest in reviewing for ACS journals, selecting their specific areas of expertise to be displayed in the ACS Paragon Plus peer review environment alongside a badge indicating completion of ACS Reviewer Lab. The badge and areas of expertise enable ACS journal editors to better match graduates with appropriate manuscripts to review.

Benefits of ACS Reviewer Lab

Our interactive course offers practical instruction and challenging exercises designed to enhance peer reviewing skills. There are benefits for anyone, no matter your role or where you are in your career.

For students:

  • Learn the steps involved in peer review
  • Understand the important ethical considerations involved in review
  • Prepare for your first review by outlining the important aspects to evaluate and key details to put into the written review

For experienced reviewers:

  • Brush up on best practices for evaluating manuscripts, including ways to avoid bias and provide thorough feedback on all important elements of a manuscript
  • Learn more about what editors find most useful in a written review

For mentors:

  • Use ACS Reviewer Lab as a discussion starter, laying groundwork for the students and researchers in your lab or academic program
  • Play module videos or walk through quizzes when a mentee is preparing for their first review

For teachers:

  • Facilitate discussion in class by walking through course modules
  • Complement in-class material on peer review or publishing ethics by assigning ACS Reviewer Lab as part of your coursework

For librarians and university administrators:

  • Support the development of reviewers at your institution of all levels of experience by sharing this free resource
  • Utilize course materials to help answer questions from students and staff about peer review

Create your free account and get started with ACS Reviewer Lab today.