As someone who has been an editor for Copeia, Transactions of the Amer.
Fisheries Soc., and currently is an editor for Freshwater Biology, and
Ecology of Freshwater Fish, I can tell you that no one is more aware
of these problems than editors. Most editors already use graduate
students who have published, as referees, but there are a lot of them
out there that we don't know. So, if you are an advanced graduate
student, and you want to gain experience in how papers are published,
as well as reduce the editorial backlog, sit down with your major prof.
ask if you're ready to review papers, and if the answer is yes, then
send a letter describing your area(s) of expertise, and a vita to the
editor or editorial board member (who frequently serve as editors) of
journals in your area(s) of expertise. Let me also clarifiy the
implication of an earlier post that somehow 'seniors' want to keep all
the refereeing to themselves, in fact, nothing is further from the truth.
In fact over-committed seniors, are *almost always* willing to palm off
work on well qualified juniors :) . As for the suggestion that mss. be
sent to journals pre-reviewed, one reason that science functions so well
is that judgements regarding publication, grants, etc. are made by
people independent of the person submitting the work. This suggestion
would violate that principle, and I believe that the quality of
published work would decline if we adopted such a system. cheers, gary