I am about to defend my PhD thesis in computer science and so far I have being asked to subreview 5 or 6 papers of different conferences. At the beginning, it was exiting because it was a new experience in my career. However, at this moment I am a little bit snowed under work and I have being assigned with 2 subreviews from the same conference.

I do not want to turn down the opportunity of expanding my knowledge and experience, nevertheless, this situation has brought to me serious doubts about the usefulness of subreviewing.

Apart from the acquisition of knowledge and experience,

  • Which are (or could be in a future) the benefits of subreviewing?
  • Is there a moment in your career that it is not worth it anymore?

Thank you.

  • For point no.1, you might be invited to be par of committees; organize talks; maintain/make connections; most of all stay up-to-date on new research in your field. For point no. 2, varies a lot, but perhaps when you are too old to care; too famous etc.
    – The Guy
    May 26 '18 at 14:08
  • @TheGuy your comment is more suitable as an answer.
    – The Doctor
    May 26 '18 at 14:27
  • 3
    What do you mean by "subreview", verses regular peer review? I'm not familiar with the term.
    – Tripartio
    May 26 '18 at 19:35
  • 5
    @Tripartio In most computer science conferences, the program committee (PC) is formally charged with reviewing submissions. At many conferences, PC members (especially those with large numbers of review assignments) are encouraged to delegate the review of each paper to an outside community member; those are "subreviewers". In extreme cases, PC members act more like editors than referees, and "subreviewers" are the real referees. Details vary among different subfields of CS.
    – JeffE
    May 26 '18 at 20:15

(a) Benefits: You mentioned the biggest one, i.e. knowledge, exposure and an updated idea of trends in the field. Besides this, the major factor is generating/maintaining goodwill with the person who sent it to you for subreview. This is an intangible benefit which could multiply in ways that are hard to predict.

(b) When is it not worth it: Probably once you have defended your PhD. You may prefer to review directly. Definitely once you're in a faculty position, unless you do it as a favour to someone.


My answers to each of your questions:

  • "Which are (or could be in a future) the benefits of subreviewing?": I see at least two main benefits:

    1. Exposing yourself to the main reviewers and conference chairs. By visibly doing high-quality work for them, you establish positive reputation as you build your professional network.
    2. I believe that all active researchers have a moral responsibility to actively peer-review the work of other researchers. A rule of thumb is that for every article we submit for peer-review, we should peer-review at least two articles when requested. (Of course, we can choose which two articles we want based on our quality level and interest, but we should make time to fulfill this professional responsibility.) It's a simple matter of treating people the way we would like them to treat us: if we want our articles to be peer-reviewed, we should peer-review others' articles.
  • "Is there a moment in your career that it is not worth it anymore?": Although you said, "Apart from the acquisition of knowledge and experience,"this is a huge point and actually answers this point: insomuch as you would always want to keep on gaining knowledge and experience throughout your career, you certainly always should continue subreviewing articles, as long as you remain an active, learning researcher. Moreover, concerning the first question, as long as you are an active researcher, you would still have an obligation to peer-review for others.

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