A colleague once remarked that, past a certain point in one’s career, one could easily spend all of one’s time just reviewing other people’s papers. Truer words have seldom been spoken.

There are several venues where I like to publish and, as a rule, I will accept referral requests from them as long as the manuscripts are within my expertise. I consider it my duty to give back what I expect others to do for my papers. I have long ago stopped reviewing papers from journals I don’t submit to. I know someone has to review for them too, but I simply don’t have the time.

Even so, I always have something waiting in my mailbox. I was down to one referral and was looking forward to having a clear “Papers to Review/Pending” email folder early in the coming week. Then, within three days, I received the following requests that I couldn’t really refuse:

1) A request from a journal where I occasionally publish, for a paper that is well within my expertise and where I know and understand the authors’s work really well.

2) A request from a Reputable Society Journal where I publish very often and from an editor with whom I interact a lot, as he is also the editor on many of my papers by virtue of being the one in charge of that particular topic.

3) A referral from the journal where I am an associate editor. The associate editor making the referral is a senior colleague whom I know and respect and who has been very supportive of my career. The paper is a little more abstract than the average submission, so I can see why he sent it to me and understand he may not have a huge pool of people who could review it.

4) A referral from a journal in which I publish infrequently, but the associate editor is a peer and a friend.

So within 3 days I went from almost having a break from refereeing to now having 5 papers in the queue…  I am hoping there will be at least be some karmic brownie points in all this for me, because otherwise I suspect I may be a sucker.


  1. Yes. Unfortunately they came in the exact wrong order! But the bad ones were easy rejects, at least. The two at the end were the good ones that actually took time. (Plus one of the last two pays reviewers, though I did get post it notes from #5)

  2. There’s something in the water, because I got 4 invitations in last two days. I accepted 3 and suggested an acquaintace postdoc as an alternative reviewer for the one I declined.

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