I am reviewing a survey paper in a good journal, where the paper missed important papers in the field including my previously published articles. I plan to suggest a rejection due to this serious lack, but I want also to encourage the authors to resubmit it again by pointing out the weaknesses of their paper.

In addition, I want to recommend them to cite some papers (since it is a survey paper) including my own. I don't know whether this is ethical (because I am one of the authors and it is clear that I found them interesting).


My personal rule for this is that I go ahead and suggest the paper in my review, and in the "Notes to the Program Chair/Editor" I disclose that I am suggesting a paper of my own.

That way, I am covered on both fronts: I am suggesting papers that are relevant to the authors and I let the Editor decide whether it is a fair suggestion.


It is absolutely fair to expect the authors of survey and review papers to conduct a proper literature search of the field. Then they can either limit their scope in a way that excludes certain papers, or be prepared to respond to questions why they didn't reference them. Note that if the scope is limited they might be justified in leaving out your papers, but they should make it clear what their intended scope is.

Suggesting one's own papers during peer review is fine, assuming they're actually related, and not just an attempt to fish for citations. Austin Henley's recommendation to be upfront to the editor about which papers are yours is helpful here. You also want to be careful not to write a report that comes across as petty, e.g., "You didn't cite my paper X? Reject it is." Instead, I generally prefer phrasing my objections as questions: "Could the authors clarify why they didn't consider (list of papers)?" rather than demands: "The authors should cite these papers otherwise the manuscript can't be accepted".

This way it's up to the authors to convince me that what they're doing is reasonable. It's possible they have good reasons after all - maybe there is a sentence mentioning their scope that I somehow missed? If they can't provide a good reason, it is still a friendlier message, and allows them an easy way out. (The tactic is even more useful for technical issues, where it lets one avoid "the referee is wrong" responses.)


I generally hate the "cite this" remarks of the reviewers, they are also mostly fully obvious in breaking the review blindness.

That one time when I absolutely had to highlight my own paper in the review (I was not aware of other research doing things exactly as I needed to make the point), I briefly restated the claim ("you state confidence of 90% with technique A, but there was research that did it with 99% confidence with technique B") and then went on to say that the reference is available to the editor.

In the confidential notice to editor I stated the full citation, mentioned that it is obviously co-authored by me, and that I leave it to their judgement whether to communicate this citation to the authors.

Probably not the best way to boost my citation count, but definitely ethically clean.

  • 2
    I don't really agree with you. Citations are not only used to mention the source of information but also to a wide view of the state-of-the-art and similar work. If the paper (especially survey papers) addresses a problem/research topic and does not mention similar work, reviewers would take the responsibility for drawing the authors' attention to the missed papers. Here, I am not talking about one specific paper, but a collection of papers that address the same problem.
    – Younes
    Sep 16 '18 at 17:10
  • 2
    Do you also hate "cite this" remarks when the paper under review is a survey, whose only purpose is to cite and put in perspective other works? A survey can hardly be useful if it misses chunks of the literature. It's probably even harmful.
    – user9646
    Sep 16 '18 at 19:44
  • Both commenters are right, my focus was on research papers. Sep 16 '18 at 19:55

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