Here's an example of the kind of paper I'm thinking of: Quantum gravity phenomenology at the dawn of the multi-messenger era—A review. The scope of the review is grand (1578 references cited) and pretty much every expert in the field is an author (100+ authors total).

When every expert in the field is an author, who peer reviews the article?

  • Related: How does peer-review work for "gigantic" collaboration projects?
    – Anyon
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 13:23
  • 5
    Does this answer your question? How does peer-review work for "gigantic" collaboration projects?
    – Kimball
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 16:22
  • 2
    Note, this is not a CERN-style mega-collaboration (which would be a duplicate of the linked question); rather, this seems to be a much looser confederation of authors organized through a “COST Action” (which funds networking only)
    – cag51
    Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 2:10
  • I don't think this is a duplicate, per cag51. The linked question is very similar, but this paper looks like a collaboration between people who wanted to set out a vision for the field in the future. Furthermore, the linked question doesn't have a relevant answer.
    – Allure
    Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 8:38
  • So the start of that question mentions large particle physics experiments, but I think the both the actual question there and the top answer (which is specifically not about physics) apply to broader contexts.
    – Kimball
    Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 15:19

2 Answers 2


This seems to be a hypothetical scenario. In reality there are always experts that are not on the paper.

Take the example posted in the OP. This is a typical review paper produced by a COST action, an EU funding schemes aimed at building international collaborations. As such, the author list is very EU centric. I can easily think of a few names of US based scientists that could referee this particular paper.

I posit that this will generally be the case. There will always be experts that were not part of this group effort. Sometimes because of geographical reasons, sometimes because of sociological reasons, and sometimes because some people just actively avoid this type of large group activity.


As this has still no answer here are a few possible explanations:

  • One logical answer would be that the authors suggested potential peer-reviewer in their submission letter because they would know which other experts exist in the field that are (for whatever reason) not part of this consortium.
  • If a paper is written by almost all the top experts of the field than a high quality of the paper is already guaranteed as they will kind of "review" each other anyway as nobody wants to put their established name on a paper that they do not fully agree with.
  • In rare cases top level papers are only reviewed by the editors. I think that this happened for example for the DNA structure paper.
  • As mentioned in the comments this post might also help: How does peer-review work for "gigantic" collaboration projects?

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