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As we all know, in the average academic field a researcher who authored relevant papers in a field, may be asked to serve as journal referee. Relevance is typically judged by his contribution to the field - the number and quality of his/her papers (h-index) as metric for expertise, and direct submission to that journal as a metric of understanding publication dynamics and relevance for the journal.

But how does this work in large collaborations (hundreds or more) where authors are listed alphabetically, every author sign all papers (making h-index useless) and the paper submission is not performed by the key author(s) but rather handed over to a committee?

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Being asked to be a reviewer means that people think your scientific opinion is likely to be valuable.

Authoring papers in an area is only one of several ways to be noticed in this way (and, in my experience, not the best way). Other ways of being noticed include:

  • letting people in your professional network know that you are interested in reviewing papers
  • asking your supervisors to delegate sub-reviews to you
  • participating in conferences and workshops
  • organizing scientific events
  • giving seminars or other talks

In most areas, there is always a need for more prompt, thorough, and constructive reviewers. Thus, if you are at an appropriate point in your career to begin reviewing (e.g., at least a senior graduate student or postdoc), then people who know you will likely be interested to start delegating work to you as soon as you express interest, and performing a few good reviews will start more and more people looking your way to provide input, as your reputation spreads through the network.

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    This seems more of a generic "how reviewers get selected" sort of answer, and not so much concerned with the particular realities of papers with massive author lists (in the hundreds). Are you trying to say that in your experience these are treated exactly the same? – zibadawa timmy Mar 19 '18 at 12:03
  • @zibadawatimmy I am saying that my judgement of somebody's potential as a reviewer has little to do with their position on author lists, whether those lists are big or small. – jakebeal Mar 19 '18 at 12:05

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