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This question is about Computer Science firstly, I don't know if it applies to other domains

I am a PC member of some international conference in my field. I got a large number of papers to review, so I need to find subreviewers for many of them. Most of the time I would give the paper to a colleague that I know would be interested in reading it ... but I know only so many people interested in so many different topics, and there remains some papers for which I have no idea of whom could review it.

So I'm doing the following: search the web for any researcher in this domain who is active, has publications matching the keywords of the paper, does not seem to have any conflict of interest with the authors, and, preferably, published to this conference before.... and ask this person to act as subreviewer.

Is this common practice? I have received conference papers from complete strangers before, but this was only rare occasions (say a few percent), but I feel I'm doing this for almost 1/4th of my assigned papers. Is there any way to address this person, other than the standard EasyChair message?

  • if (in future) && (need reviewer) && (data science related) { contact_wanderer(); } – The Wanderer Jun 12 '17 at 4:58
  • contact_wanderer() { send_email_to( byebyeads1@gmail.com ) }; – The Wanderer Jun 12 '17 at 5:02
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I am a CS guy and can answer this question.

Yes of course. That is what conference chairs do perhaps. As you told the person has already published in past conferences like this. If some researcher is active in the field of his/her research arena and agreeing to review the manuscript. This is what is called peer-review. My recommendation would be to contact the researchers through academic e-mail ids of theirs to make it more transparent.

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In my experience it may make sense to send subreviews out for people who are junior than you and you know that they can replace your particular expertise (e.g. your postdocs, possibly senior PhD students). Note that you are responsible for their reviews in this case. Otherwise, unless you are a Scientific Committee Chair, it is not strictly your job to select reviewers, or you would have been asked to do that in the first place.

I personally do not give out subreviews for precisely this reason - if I am editor, or in the scientific committee (which selects reviewers), of course, I do select reviewers, and that's what my job description is; but when I am asked to review, I assume they want me and my expertise and not some variation of me. However, some conferences explicitly permit subreviewers, so it really depends on the situation.

In any case, I probably would consider a subreview to be directly your responsibility, so if the subreviewer messes up, it's your job to fix it - or if it is contentious, but not questioned by you, to defend the review.

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