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I am very proud of this achievement and I am thinking about sharing the email to social media. Is it okay to post it as long as I remove confidential information, e.g. manuscript id, title, author?

Also, if it is okay to post it on social media, can I include the journal name and the editor that sent the email?

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8 Answers 8

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Congrats! I wish more people would be excited about being a reviewer.

Personally, I would only say the journal's name (e.g., TheAwesomeJournal). For example:

Yay! Just got invited to be a reviewer for the first time @TheAwesomeJournal

I would not name the editor because not all journals have public editors for specific articles.

Edit: I would be okay with listing the journal's name because some resources like ORCID and Publons will list journals you have reviewed for.

Edit number 2: I would not include the email from the editor. Socially, this would be weird for scientists and practically, it makes it likely you might accidentally include identifying information about the review.

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  • 68
    @PhilCsar I think the overwhelming advice here has been to not share the email (this particular answer didn't say that explicitly, but it does say "only say the journal name" which does not include the email). Of course, you aren't beholden to advice you get just because you asked, but it's a bit disconcerting to me when someone gets a piece of advice here and chooses to interpret it in an expansive way towards something they want to do otherwise, as if they're only seeking confirmation and not actually reading the advice written.
    – Bryan Krause
    May 17 at 16:31
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    For a similar social situation in a completely different context, I think it would be totally normal and fine if I email my mom updating her about a vacation I took and she then tells other people about it ("Bryan just visited the south pole and had a great time!"). I'd feel really weird if she pasted my exact email written to her on Facetok or Instatweet: I wrote that email to her, not the public. The information isn't really privileged or private, but the actual document is. I feel like that applies to business as well as personal communication.
    – Bryan Krause
    May 17 at 16:37
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    @BryanKrause I agree about not sharing the actual email. May 17 at 16:40
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    Even sharing the journal name is violating the terms of anonymity, IMO. Many scientific fields aren't that big. If someone just announced they became a reviewer for Journal X and my paper I submitted to Journal X just went out for review...
    – noslenkwah
    May 19 at 19:27
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Please do not share the email, that would be unprofessional.

Many journals take great care in deciding what information about their internal operations to make public, and which details to keep private and share only with reviewers and other people involved with decision making. By sharing the email you may inadvertently expose such details.

In general, it seems like a bad habit and in poor taste to take an email that someone sent you as a professional communication, and publicize it on social media, even with details redacted. Perhaps in this situation this will be mostly harmless, but I cannot help but feel that this will be less well-received by your social media followers than you may be imagining.

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    Not merely unprofessional, but technically illegal. Copyright resides with the sender (though it's poorly tested in courts, anywhere). So always think twice about sharing an email.
    – Auspex
    May 19 at 14:58
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    @Auspex do you have a citation for the copyright? May 19 at 19:49
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    @RichardErickson here’s an article discussing this question. Filed under “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin without being sued for copyright infringement because their dance is a regarded as derivative work under US law.”
    – Dan Romik
    May 20 at 20:02
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    @RichardErickson: "Public domain" is a specific term of art in the context of copyright law. As a rule of thumb, it is very hard for something to accidentally become public domain, unless it's really old or specifically exempt from copyright protection in the first place (e.g. works created by the US government). Nothing becomes "public domain" merely because it's affiliated with a public university, unless the author was a federal employee acting within the scope of their duties.
    – Kevin
    May 20 at 22:04
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    @RichardErickson Here's one that explicitly states the UK High Court has ruled that email "can" have copyright protection: pinsentmasons.com/out-law/news/… But it's the prevailing legal opinion pretty well everywhere that email IS copyrighted, but even the UK court has been a bit wishy-washy about it. In fact, their exception may apply here: an email asking a person to be a journal referee is not actually very original, as the journal must send hundreds of them annually.
    – Auspex
    May 21 at 16:54
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No you should not share the email although it would probably not do too much harm if enough details are removed. It is best not to share the journal name either.

A review is anonymous and should stay that way [*]. The academic world is smaller than you may think: someone who knows the name of the journal, date and your field of research may be able to deduce who the reviewer is. Note that your field of research is probably publicly known or can be deduced from the journal name. The date of posting to social media, combined with the fact that many of your social media connections are probably scientists does not help either.

I would suggest the following:

  • social media: "Whooo! I just got invited to review a paper for the first time!".
  • CV (when applying for your next job): "Reviewed paper(s) for journal X".

[*] Personally, I would prefer authors to be anonymous and require reviewers to disclose their name, but that is my opinion and not how the review system currently works.

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    In addition, the editor, who contacted you confidentially, might not appreciate reading about it on twitter (even if their name is not included).
    – user151413
    May 17 at 21:45
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If I were the editor and you posted my email, with or without my name, without my permission, that would be the last time I would ever have any kind of professional contact with you. I would be furious!

I would consider you untrustworthy and unprofessional if I found out that you have been sharing an email I sent you with even a limited number of your peers, but if you actually go as far as to announce it to everyone on social media, you would have burned all your bridges with me. I would never, ever want to work with you again under any circumstances.

Now, I may be a bit on the extreme end here, I know. I dislike social media so this feels particularly egregious to me. However, at its core, this is a case where you are taking confidential communication and blithely sharing it with the whole world! I can't imagine anyone would be OK with that. If you're willing to do this, how can I trust you not to share the information from the paper? How can I trust that you will respect the confidentiality of the review process? How can I trust you, period?

I get that you're excited to receive your first review invitation, I was too! And I shared the fact that I had been asked to review a paper with my friends. I did not share a confidential email though! So go ahead and share the fact that you have been asked to review. This is an important milestone and you should absolutely be proud of it! But don't ruin it by sharing the email, or anything else that can be used to guess who the reviewer of a paper may have been.

If you share the email, the best case scenario is that you will be perceived as immature and childish, and the worst case scenario is that you will be seen as someone who cannot be trusted.

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As others have said, do not include anything other than the journal's name.

But if I may offer a - perhaps somewhat controversial - opinion, depending on your field and personality: It's okay and even expected to list this on your resume and platforms like Publons. However, I personally would refrain from posting this on social media. Being a reviewer is a fairly common and standard thing to do as part of your job. Being overly excited about this in public could make you look like a newbie in some people's eyes (which you probably are ;-) ), and you will have to decide whether that hurts your reputation more than it helps. Like a teacher going "Wohoo, look at me, I have just graded my first homework! Aren't I great!" Yes, it is an achievement, but one that is expected in your line of work. I personally appreciate a little humility and understatement in academia, and I ain't no old seasoned academic either. But that's just my five cents...

Also, keep in mind that announcing this around the time you actually do the review, it might telegraph to the authors who you are, especially if this is a smaller, more specialized journal. There are a few people who might retaliate if they don't like your peer review, either by shutting down one of your papers in the future or interfering with your career, especially if they are more established than you. It is not too common, but more common than one might expect among supposedly rational and objective folk.

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A possible way of understanding better whether this is something to tweet about, and in which way you might want to do that, is to try to twitter search function, to see if other people post about this, and if yes, in which way.

With a quick search, I found someone posting that thay got invited to review a paper on field X, and they are proud that they are being considered an expert on X by the editor. But I did not find anyone tweeting either about the journal or even sharing more things about the review request.

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I occasionally see researcher saying that "I am happy to announce that I become a reviewer of XXX" And as stated, people share on publon of which journals they are reviewers. Sharing e-mail of editor, on the other hand, would be weird. It is like you try to prove that you don't lie.

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The journal would know better than random people on the internet what they're comfortable being shared. Send them an email saying that you'd like to share this on social media, and ask them what details they consider confidential and what they're comfortable being public knowledge.

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