A paper submitted to some peer-reviewed venue might cite some of the reviewer's papers.

Is there any research/study that looked whether citing reviewers' papers significantly increase the chance of a submitted paper to be accepted?

I am most interested in the field of computer science, and English-speaking venues.

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    Gosh I hope this effect isn't large, though anecdotally I know that people do think about it. I doubt that there could be any formal study due to reviewer anonymity though. – Roger Fan May 30 '15 at 21:26
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    It would be difficult to distinguish this effect from the impact of making a good choice of venue. If a paper is sent to an appropriate venue, it is more likely to be reviewed by writers of relevant papers. – Patricia Shanahan May 30 '15 at 22:40
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    A reviewer might reject your paper because it doesn't cite relevant work. And there is a good chance that much of that relevant work is by the reviewer. – Thomas Jan 27 '16 at 18:26
  • I would not accept a paper just because it cited my paper(s). First and foremost is the quality of the paper and whether it is at the level I expect for a given journal. Having said that, I know of colleagues who accept or are more lenient simply because he/she knows an author or that an author's reputation precedes him/her. – Prof. Santa Claus Dec 7 '18 at 1:17

I do not know whether citing the reviewer helps, but I know that the obsession with impact factors has lead journals to ask for citing articles which appeared in the same journal. I had two rejections for "not enough citations", and a friend had an article rejected because "the topic is not within the scope of this journal, which can be seen by the fact that none of the citations appeared in this journal".


I am not sure about a particular study of this type, so I don't think I can directly help you with this. That being said, one of my professors, who is himself a reviewer, once told us that it is a good idea to cite the work of those who might be potential reviewers; he then mentioned examples of his colleagues rejecting papers because their work was not cited. This particular case doesn't necessarily imply that citing reviewers' papers increases the acceptance likelihood, but at least suggests that not citing them can have a negative effect.

One might as well argue that citing a reviewer's paper triggers the confirmation bias, but that's just my guess. I believe you might find the discussion in Bias in peer review: a case study or Publication Prejudices: An Experimental Study of Confirmatory Bias in the Peer Review System interesting.

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    "This particular case doesn't necessarily imply that citing reviewers' papers increases the acceptance likelihood, but at least suggests that not citing them can have a negative effect." What is the difference between the two statements? – Pete L. Clark May 30 '15 at 21:35
  • The statements are inverses of each other, so they are not equivalent in a logical sense. That's what I meant with "doesn't necessarily imply". – Alex Mitrevski May 31 '15 at 8:16
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    There are only two options, citing and not citing. It seems to me that both of your statements assert precisely that there is a higher probability of acceptance in the first case than the second case. If the statements are not equivalent, what would be an example in which one applies but the other does not? (Not to pick too much, but I also don't see how either statement has the form of a logical implication, let alone one being the inverse of another.) – Pete L. Clark May 31 '15 at 8:23
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    I don't think this is a logical implication: the statement that one alternative yields a higher probability than the other does not depend upon the hypothesis that one occurs. The form of your assertion is "A => probability(X|A) > probability(X|not A)", for which the only way to interpret it is to strip way the "A =>". I'll stop insisting on this because it is only of limited relevance to the question, but if you are working in an academic field in which the logic of implication appears prominently, you might want to consider talking to a colleague or instructor about your reasoning here. – Pete L. Clark May 31 '15 at 15:51
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    @PeteL.Clark Trying to make sense of what Aleksandar wrote, I came up with the following conjecture. In addition to the acceptance probabilities with and without the citations of the reviewers' work, he is thinking of a third probability, an idealized "fair" probability, the probability that the paper "ought to be" accepted. And then he compares the two actual probabilities with this idealized one. This conjecture seems to explain much of what he wrote (though not his most recent comment). – Andreas Blass Jun 1 '15 at 0:45

I highly doubt there can be any study on this, because statistics on something that's suppose to be anonymous will be hard to come by.

I can say anecdotally that:

  • If the reviewer says "you should cite these papers" (which are written by him), and the author does it, then indeed the reviewer is more likely to recommend acceptance. However few reviewers are so blatant as to return a review that's simply "you should cite these papers". They'll usually recommend other things as well, and it's reasonable that with those other things done the paper is acceptable anyway.
  • There are also reviewers who recommend rejection even though they're cited. I know this because I've searched for reviewers from the references cited before, and some of them recommend rejection anyway. Of course when this happens the authors never know about it.
  • I remember reading about a paper where the referee said "my group's work was cited but I still don't understand what the authors are saying", which was actually a fair report since the paper was nonsense (I don't remember if it was generated by SCIgen or was a very badly written theoretical physics paper with no real content); however I can't find it now.

I was thinking of the same question. I experienced submitting a paper in the Journal X and later on was recommended by the editor to submit the paper on Journal Y (because it doesn't fit to the scope of the journal), where he is the subject editor. I cited most of his recent work on the paper knowing he is the editor in chief of Journal X. Later on, the paper was reviewed and accepted with minor revisions in Journal Y. The review was rigorous but 'soft'. However, the chance of getting accepted larly relies on the paper's quality but citing the reviewer's or editor's work means you know who are the people working on your field, you know what knowledge is exist, hence, your paper is reliable

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