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I recently submitted a paper to a conference. Within days all of my co-authors and I received an email asking us all to select (bid for) papers in the same submission stream from the conference to review. The conference has purposely invited some authors to be reviewers. Our paper has not been reviewed yet.

Is this normal behavior? Will it look strange to have an accepted paper and be a reviewer for the same conference?

  • Cold this just be a variation of "peer review" they take all the reviews - ignoring self-reviews and the 2 or 3 papers with the most reviews get through...? – Solar Mike Jul 20 '18 at 14:13
  • I don't really enough for a full answer, but I've been invited to review after submitting for a conference. – MJeffryes Jul 20 '18 at 15:27
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In my field (CS) it is common to have accepted papers and act as reviewer (otherwise all well known authors would not be able to publish at such conferences), but it is uncommon to decide after submission who will be reviewers.

Sometimes it is necessary to recruit additional reviewers because you are not having enough experts for certain sub-disciplines or reviews are cancelled / not in time.

  • +1. But the person should inform the committee that they have a submission also and therefore a potential conflict of interest. The invitation may have just been an oversight. Of course, if the papers are in different tracks, or similar, there may be no conflict, but the committee should make that decision. – Buffy Jul 20 '18 at 12:56
  • The conference literally just took us as authors and added us as reviewers. Thus the committee are aware of the conflict. – TheFamousDirector Jul 20 '18 at 13:02
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    In many subfields of CS, like mine, having a submission a conference is not considered a conflict of interest for reviewing for the same conference (because if it were, finding expert reviewers would be impossible). In practice I’ve found it more common for reviewers with similar submissions to review positively—“Please accept more papers like mine”—than negatively—“Please reject this paper so that mine has a better chance”. In any case, program committees are well aware of this dynamic. – JeffE Jul 20 '18 at 13:35
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In my personal experience in engineering related conferences, this is quite common. I would even say that high-quality conferences might do this more often.

This may emerge from the following reasons: Initially, some people submit high-quality papers, perhaps over several years, thus, they get known to be specialists in their field. As the conference grows or loses some of its reviewers, a need for new reviewers is created. So, who do you ask? Some random guy you do not know well, or a specialist that has published for years on this conference? So the specialist becomes a reviewer but, of course, will not stop researching and is still allowed to submit papers.

Thereby, reviewers often have own submissions to a conference. There might be a little conflict of interest as always, if you review work of potential competitors, but: There are several reviewers, so an unqualified "strong reject, I do not like this paper" will hopefully not succeed. Furthermore, rejecting a few out of dozens up to hundreds of submitted papers will not increase your chances significantly. You could even hurt yourself: If you reject all papers in your field of research, the conference might not be able to assign your paper to an adequate session and it might be regarded as off-topic.

I would not see the request for review after submission as something bad, it is quite the opposite: The organizers have really thought about who can review those papers with the necessary background knowledge. Personally, I hate it if someone without a basic understanding of my research tries to review my paper - and I also hate it if I am assigned papers that are clearly out of my field of research.

Thus, YES it looks ok, but be careful as always.

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