I received a letter from Mathematical Reviews inviting me to be a reviewer. Before I make my decision, may I ask what are the possible advantages and/or disadvantages of being a reviewer?

  • 1
    Assuming that Mathematical Reviews is not a predatory journal (is it the AMS one?), this sounds more like "this is your regular job" if you work in academia.
    – Greg
    Oct 23, 2014 at 6:49
  • 1
    I am pretty sure a similar question on this board has been asked before, not specific to Mathematical Reviews, though. Does anybody remember?
    – Nobody
    Oct 23, 2014 at 6:51
  • Yes, the one affiliated with AMS.
    – Kasvy
    Oct 23, 2014 at 7:15
  • 2
    Note that you need to transfer copyright in your reviews to AMS. When I was invited, I offered to write reviews under a Creative Commons license, but they weren't interested.
    – silvado
    Oct 23, 2014 at 7:35
  • 3
    @Greg No. Mathematical Reviews is what you might call a meta-journal, that summarizes and evaluates published journal articles about mathematics. Being asked to write reviews for them is not the same thing as being asked to referee papers submitted for publication so doing it is not part of a mathematician's regular academic job. Oct 23, 2014 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


For background, MathReviews are reviews written by mathematicians of published mathematical papers and typically describe the content of the paper. Such reviews are available on the online database MathSciNet.

Here are some reasons to do it

  • Writing reviews forces you to read some papers that are not in the focal point of your interests. Since there is no decision to take, I find it less time-consuming and stress-generating than refereeing a paper.

  • A good review is a service to the mathematical community: it allows mathematicians to find relevant papers and decide wether a paper is worth searching for and/or reading.

  • You get paid $8 for each review that you can use to buy books from the American Mathematical Society.

  • Your name might appear in MathSciNet as a reviewer next to some nice authors and nice papers ;-)

Here are some reasons not do it:

  • Reading a paper and writing a review takes time.

  • You are not anonymous. If you are not careful enough in writing your review, you might upset some authors.

Here are some tips to have a good experience:

  • You can set up a limit of the number of papers that you accept to have at once. Set it a reasonable level for your workload.

  • Choose carefully the AMS classifications that you are interested in. A poor choice can lead you in reviewing papers that do not interest you. (Afterwards, if you receive many uninteresting paper, you should consider mentioning that you are not interested in their AMS classification.)

  • Reviewing a book takes much time. Think carefully about it when asked.

  • 5
    "You get paid $8 for each review" ... wow. seriously?
    – xLeitix
    Oct 23, 2014 at 12:25
  • 5
    @xLeitix: Well, you get points, which are redeemable in the AMS online book store (at the rate of 1 USD per point). Zentralblatt has a similar scheme with Springer. Oct 23, 2014 at 12:46
  • 4
    @tohecz I have seen this on CVs. I do not think it hurts your CV, but it does not neither clearly improve the CV. On a good CV, it gives the impression that you can do something else than writing papers and giving talk on you own subject.
    – user36236
    Oct 23, 2014 at 12:55
  • 7
    @user36236: It's an indication that you're a good academic citizen, something that might be relevant when being considered for a faculty position. It'll never make up for fewer publications or grants, of course, but all things being equal, someone on the committee might think "This candidate doesn't shirk service to the profession, so will probably sit on committees without too much prodding, taking some load off our shoulders." Oct 23, 2014 at 13:01
  • 1
    +After reviewing a book, you might get to keep it. Handy if it happens to be a book you're interested in. (Never happened to me though). Oct 23, 2014 at 14:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .