Finding Reviewers#

Sometimes the most challenging part of our pyOpenSci open peer review process is finding reviewers. This page provides tips and tricks to help you find the right people to review a scientific Python package.

Where to Look for Reviewers?#

As an editor, you can find reviewers through:

When the above doesn’t work and you still need to find a reviewer:

  • Check our reviewer sign-up spreadsheet for names of people who have already volunteered to review for pyOpenSci. The link for this document is pinned to the pyOpenSci Slack #private-editorial-channel.

  • Ping other editors for ideas.

  • Post in the pyOpenSci Slack #software-review channel.

  • Look for users of the package or the data source/upstream service the package connects to (via their opening issues in the repository, starring it, citing it in papers, talking about it on social media).

  • Search for authors/maintainers of related packages on PyPI.

  • Coordinate with our Community Manager to post a call for reviewers on our pyOpenSci social channels.


If you do a reviewer search, please be sure to have new reviewers first sign up using our reviewer signup form.

Criteria for Choosing Reviewers#

Here are criteria to keep in mind when choosing a reviewer. You might need to piece this information together by searching PyPI, Conda / Conda-forge and the potential reviewer’s GitHub page and general online presence (personal website, social media profiles).

  • Has not reviewed a package for us within the last 6 months.

  • Some package development / contribution experience.

  • Some domain experience in the field of the package or data source.

  • No conflicts of interest.

Reviewer Diversity Should Be Prioritized#

Try to balance your sense of the potential reviewer’s experience against the complexity of the package.

  • Diversity: Try to find reviewers from different backgrounds and gender identities. For example, if you have two reviewers, only one should be a cis white male.

  • Openness - reviewers should also have demonstrated interest in open source or Python community activities, although blind emailing is fine.

Each submission should be reviewed by two package reviewers. Although it is fine for one of them to have less package development experience and more domain knowledge, the review should not be split into two parts. Both reviewers need to review the package comprehensively, from their particular perspectives. In general, at least one reviewer should have prior reviewing experience, and of course inviting one new reviewer expands our pool of reviewers.

Reviewers should ideally have some subject matter expertise associated with the package functionality. It is ok and even welcome if one reviewer has more technical expertise and the other focuses on usability and is less technical. Read through the Guidelines for Reviewers Section to learn more about finding and selecting reviewers.

Peer Review Mentorship#

pyOpenSci encourages those who are newer to review to become involved in our open peer review process. As such, we offer a reviewer mentorship program where we pair a new reviewer with someone in the community that has previous review experience.

It is useful for reviewers to not only review the technical content of a package, but also to review the documentation and package installation process for usability.

If a new reviewer is interested in becoming a reviewer but would like some support, do the following:

  1. Reach out to the Editor in Chief & Peer Review Lead to let them know that you have a reviewer that would like to work with a mentor.

  2. They will then post in the #software-review channel to see if anyone is available to provide support to the new reviewer.

  3. If you don’t get any responses from the post above, reach out to our Community Manager who will try to find someone to fill the mentorship role!

Once a Mentor is Identified#

  1. Invite the new reviewer to our pyOpenSci Slack.

  2. Start a private DM group chat with the new reviewer and the mentor(s) so they are introduced.

  3. Let the review proceed from there.