I always thought that the way journals elect their reviewers is that probably they or their editors ask some famous researchers to review some of their papers. I mean, reviewers are probably asked to review papers.

Recently, I have seen some journals and publishers which advertise on their websites saying something like

If you want to be a reviewer for our journal/conference, please send your CV to our email address; we will assess your background and if you are accepted, we will inform you where to start reviewing our papers.

This is very good opportunity for students who are not very famous in their field and want to start reviewing for journals and conferences to send their CV and assess their opportunity to review for a journal or conference; but I want to know if somebody does reviewing for these journals which have such system for attracting reviewers, and mentioning involving in such volunteer paper reviewing in his CV; will this harm his academic reputation?

Is it acceptable for academic community that somebody send his CV for a journal and ask them to accept him as a reviewer? How such advertisement on a journals website is considered? Do reputable journals and publishers have similar advertisements for attracting reviewers to their publication group and can such advertisements be considered a sign of a non-reputable journal/conference?

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    Refereeing is a burden and a time-sink. Certainly one has the obligation to agree to referee a certain number of papers once you are senior enough to be asked to do so, but why on earth would you ask to be sent papers to referee? Oct 3, 2015 at 16:20
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    @AndyPutman I think this is a good opportunity for young researchers to start reviewing, this probably helps young students to start reviewing and help them improve their CV and add value to their academic reputation.
    – enthu
    Oct 3, 2015 at 16:29
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    Sorry @andyputman, but reviewing is a cornerstone of the scientific process and can greatly improve the quality of the works. A properly done review is inspiring. I do not disagree that it is indeed a time-sink and should be done properly, but a burden, I do not agree. Just because you do not get any direct profit from it, doesn't mean you shouldn't do it... Oct 3, 2015 at 16:31
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    @AndyPutman: Yogi Berra is said to have remarked, "You should go to other people's funerals, or else they won't go to yours." I think much the same is true of refereeing papers. Oct 3, 2015 at 17:51
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    @EnthusiasticStudent: Refereeing does not improve your cv. While it is fine to have a line item there listing some of the venues you have refereed for, it is not considered an "honor" and will not really help you with your career. When you are a student, you should focus on your research. Probably you should say yes if you are asked by a reputable journal/conference (though ask your advisor before doing do), but more for good karma than to help yourself. Oct 3, 2015 at 18:51

4 Answers 4


I am hard-pressed to imagine a situation in which reviewing would hurt your reputation. It does pay, as your question hints, to check up on the journal you'd be reviewing for to be sure it isn't scammy, but asking for reviewers isn't much indication one way or the other -- almost every journal needs a stable of willing reviewers, and what harm does asking do?

Yes, editors do choose reviewers for a given paper as carefully as we can, but we mostly haven't the luxury of "who's the most famous person working in this area?" because Most Famous Person is swamped. So we keep a stable of folks who have signed up with us, and we look through it for potential reviewers.


In my corner of academia (mathematics), I am not aware of any self-respecting journal that advertises for reviewers. The only examples of this phenomenon I've seen were from obviously bogus/predatory journals. To my mind, advertising for reviewers is one of several clear warning signs that this is not a journal I'd like to either read or contribute to.

With that said, a. this only reflects my limited perspective, and b. even if my perspective is correct, refereeing for such journals is not likely to hurt your academic reputation, in particular since refereeing is anonymous so no one except the journal editor would know that you were doing it. As others have commented, your time may be wasted but your reputation is not in serious danger.

  • Although refereeing is anonymous; I have seen that some people in Academia mention the journals/conferences they have reviewed for. Does mentioning reviewing for such journals in CV hurt reputation?
    – enthu
    Oct 3, 2015 at 17:59
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    @EnthusiasticStudent the potential for any refereeing activities to either hurt or help your reputation is pretty minor. You would have to do something fairly extreme, like boast about refereeing 50 papers a year for a journal that publishes pure garbage, for this to have more than a negligible effect. But yes, mentioning that you have refereed papers for really bad journals could in principle lead some people to question your judgment and have slightly diminished respect for you.
    – Dan Romik
    Oct 3, 2015 at 18:32

It's more a question of whether you want to be reviewing for a given journal. Doing your first few reviews can be extremely instructive, even if the papers aren't of high quality. Later on, you might become pickier.

As other comments point out, most people who write reviews see this a "service" to their community, and do it because being an active member in the community has many benefits.

To answer your question, then, reviewing cannot harm your reputation, except indirectly by wasting your time.


If you intend to list your service work on your CV, then I think there are some conferences and journals with which you strictly want to avoid any affiliation, because they have reputations of being spam or pay-to-publish venues. An explicit request to ask potential reviewers to submit CVs can be a red flag for such conferences and journals. You should certainly research the quality of the conference and journal before investing time in reviews, to ensure that you are engaging in a meaningful peer-review process.

On a related note, I think most junior researchers get into reviewing initially by sub-reviewing for their supervisors. If your intent is to do more service, then it may be worth making your supervisor aware of that.

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