NCA and Taylor & Francis Will Train African Scholars as Journal Reviewers

June 23, 2023

Members of the Public Relations Society of Kenya pose with National Office Staff 

NCA and its journal publisher, Taylor & Francis (T&F), have agreed to begin jointly working to train social science journal reviewers outside the United States and other large primarily English-speaking countries. The aim is to internationalize the pool of potential manuscript reviewers.

In early 2024, T&F, one of the world’s largest academic publishers, and NCA will hold online training sessions for communication scholars in Kenya and other African countries. T&F reviewer trainer, Victoria Babbit is Director of Researcher Development and Outreach. Babbit has worked at T&F since 2008. Prior to joining the company, she was a doctoral student in geography at the University of Washington.

The NCA and Taylor & Francis planned training for reviewers on the African continent will be only one among many held around the world in 2024 and beyond.

Participants in the reviewer training will be recruited through NCA members with backgrounds in teaching and/or researching in or about Africa, via the Association’s other contacts in Africa, and in other ways. For example, NCA is eager to build on the relationship it began in November 2022 with the president and a group members from the Public Relations Society of Kenya. The small delegation made the NCA National Office a destination during their Washington, D.C. tour. T&F’s usual practice has been to make reviewer training widely available to everyone from graduate students to senior scholars, but to caution that reviewer training by itself does not guarantee that a participant will be asked to serve as a journal reviewer.

Two of the NCA’s goals in its 2023 strategic plan are to diversify both the editorial boards and the pools of other reviewers for its 11 journals (12 starting in 2024), all of which are published and marketed by T&F, In the publisher’s latest annual report to the NCA, only 8% of NCA journals’ editorial board members were outside the United States, but 28% of manuscripts submitted to NCA journals had first authors outside the United States. At the same time, 53% of NCA journal article downloads tracked by T&F are outside the U.S. showing that NCA journals have broad and deep use by scholars and others outside the country.

In 2022, 25% of invited NCA reviewers were from outside North America. But only 19% of completed reviews were from outside North America. The regions with the lowest acceptance rates of reviewer invitations were Central and South America, where 69% of invited reviewers declined to review, and Africa, where 50% of invited reviewers declined to review. “This may suggest that these would be good regions to focus on for reviewer trainings and initiatives,” said Sophie Wade, NCA’s Portfolio Manager at Taylor & Francis.

By Dane S. Claussen, Ph.D., MBA, NCA’s Director of Research, Publications, and Professional Advancement