I recently submitted a paper to a conference and was just blown away by the quality of the reviews (double-blind). Not only were they very detailed, but they were also very informative and insightful. They really helped me move the work forward. I wanted to thank the reviewers (which I got a chance to do in the rebuttal stage) but also to perhaps even contact them for a follow up on their comments. I thought that I could perhaps add them as co-authors or even offer collaborations.

I was wondering if people thought whether or not it would be appropriate for journal editors or program committees to allow reviewers to connect with the author following the end of the review cycle should it be requested by either side. What would the down-side of such a follow-up system be?

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    The reviewer effectively already has this ability; when the conference proceedings are published, she can find your paper and learn who you are. If she's interested in further work with you, she can contact you then. She might not (and probably should not) tell you that she was the reviewer, so it might be more a matter of "I was very interested by your paper..." – Nate Eldredge Apr 30 '14 at 3:49
  • @NateEldredge that is true if the paper gets accepted. But what happens if the paper gets rejected? – Jubei Apr 30 '14 at 5:01
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    You could contact the chair of the conference PC, who will contact the reviewers to see whether they are interested in your proposal. – Dave Clarke Apr 30 '14 at 6:28

As has been stated in the comments to your question, contact between author and reviewer once the review process is complete is no issue. In a double-blind system this hinges on establishing the contact and in that case, as stated by Nate Eldridge, it will have to be a contact from the reviewer. In other cases where authors are known to the reviewers it depends on the willingness of reviewers to reveal their name.

The editors obviously sits on the information that could connect the two under any circumstance and you can of course always ask an editor to forward a request to an anonymous reviewer. As an editor myself, I am not sure I would be altogether happy with such a development since it would mean a lot of communication back and forth concerning matters with which I have nothing to do. I will add that many if not most editors do this on their spare time or time they take from their own research and are not salaried to do the work. This is why I would think twice about making the request and make sure the reason is very good and of such interest that an editor will see benefits to science to make the effort. As you probably realize, doing this once is no big deal but if it becomes routine it will occupy much time for an editor. I would then clearly opt for changing the review system to not be anonymous and try to convince the community that such changes has benefits worth considering. Another option is to keep the review process double blind but then provide all information to both parties once a decision (accept or reject) has been reached.

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    it would mean a lot of communication back and forth — Really? All you have to do is ask the referees "The authors have asked to contact you; may I send them your contact information?" If they say yes, you send an introductory email and get out of the way. If they say no, send your regrets to the author and you're done. – JeffE Apr 30 '14 at 15:01
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    provide all information to both parties once a decision...has been reached — This is a really really bad idea. Reviews should be anonymous by default, especially if the reviewer is less senior than the author. – JeffE Apr 30 '14 at 15:02
  • @PeterJansson I think the conference/journal website that handles the review process could provide an automated method for the authors/reviewers to request contact details. No need for the program chair to get involved. – Jubei Apr 30 '14 at 15:51
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    @JeffE "it would mean a lot of communication back and forth — Really? All you have to do" - I find "all you have to do" comments a bit short-sighted. Every time someone adds to our duties, they say "All you have to do is...". The problem is not the one-off. The problem is that once done, you have to do it, every time, for ever. We have enough duties as there are, and I am very wary of the cost of any addition to procedure. In addition, a review process is not match-making. Once the rule is diluted, reviewer refusing to partake and might find themselves pressured. Not a good idea. – Captain Emacs Apr 3 '16 at 13:42

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