Do academic peer reviewers receive any salary? If yes, what is the annual average?

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    Peer reviewers receive a salary... from their university, i.e. they are not paid by either the authors or the publisher but they are not random “volunteers” doing it on their free time either, nearly all of them are academics and it's part of their job.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 14, 2016 at 22:13
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    @Relaxed: Though it's not unknown for the academics to pass the reviewing on to their grad students.
    – jamesqf
    Aug 15, 2016 at 1:28
  • @Relaxed this is sort of true. Reviewers are usually employed and usually consider it part of their duty to the academic community. Their employers don't always entirely agree. I work for a government research organisation. We have to charge almost all our time to projects, so reviewing tends to end up being done as unpaid overtime. Aug 15, 2016 at 3:51
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    First, being proposed to review papers means thats someone considers you as some expert in the field (or make you believe that in order to avoid reviewing a bad/boring paper themselves). Second, it gives you an access to the work of other researchers at a preliminary stage, so it can be an advantage for your own work. Aug 15, 2016 at 8:36

5 Answers 5


The vast majority not a cent, of whatever currency (see this answer for exceptions).

Peer reviewers are asked to volunteer, and they volunteer because they know that someone else would have to review their papers too (as Dilworth points out in a comment there can be other motivations too).

Said differently, peer reviewing is a mutual exchange, necessary for science to work (though the peer review system has been sometimes criticized).

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    In my country, they give grant referees some money, but I don't remember the exact sum. They say it was necessary to get people from abroad to referee.
    – user21264
    Aug 14, 2016 at 21:47
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    @user3653831 Grants might be a different story with respect to journal papers: in certain cases (I know of a few) there might be meetings abroad that need at least to be refunded or, as you said, there might be the involvement of foreigner referees for national fundings. Aug 14, 2016 at 21:53
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    @Dilworth But if everyone refuses to review, then the system is broken. So you do it because you know that science needs reviewers.
    – Tony
    Aug 14, 2016 at 22:56
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    I guess those who subscribe to the categorical imperative (Massimo) do it for different reasons from those who maximise their local utility function (Dilworth). Which is to be expected when different moral principles are used for post hoc rationalisation of the same behaviour ;-) Aug 15, 2016 at 0:04
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    @Toni, yes if everyone refuses things are broken. But here we are talking about the individual: if an individual refuses nothing gets broken, because the individual doesn't expect that everyone would follow him. Actually, I know a person who refuses to review anything. And viola, the system still works.
    – Dilworth
    Aug 15, 2016 at 0:13

I think not for journals, but sometimes "token" amounts, really "honorariums", for national-level grants. I've been asked to review/referee some grant proposals from some small countries, with perhaps a few hundred USD offered as token. I don't view it as any serious sort of "salary", certainly not enough to induce me to do a thing I didn't want to do, and I don't imagine the people offering it would think so, either. Rather, I suppose one could have a cultural viewpoint in which making some token offer is a good thing. I can equally-well imagine that making a too-small offer could be construed as an insult... ?!? But much public discourse is sooo insulting already that I don't usually think in those terms. :)


It is true that most reviewers (actually, nearly all) do not get paid. It is said to be an altruistic act that would be considered to be prestigious. But, there is a journal that functions differently. It is called Collabra, you could read the news about it here. There are others who do this feature too.

There are several concerns on why this should be paid as reviews do devote their precious time for this. The fact that they continue to do so for free is what still makes the publishers feel it is fine not to pay for them. As long as altruistic reviewers (well, in the case of money) exist, journals will continue to function without paying the reviewers.

This is nearly the same question: Are there any journals that pay reviewers?

The accepted answer that post would list you quite a few journals who pay their reviewers.

If you are concerned about whether reviewers should get paid for this, there are a lot of deep discussions about this issue you might want to take a look at:


Do peer reviewers receive any salary?

In my limited experience (mathematics).

Referees for papers submitted to journals or conferences: no.

Books, perhaps. On one occasion, as reward for reviewing a book proposed to be published, I received a "free book" of my choice from that publisher. On some other occasions, in return for writing for publication a review of a book already published, I received a free copy of the book.

Once for reviewing some proposed mathematical software I got a free copy of it.

Referee of candidates for promotion or tenure: mathematics, no; computer science, yes.

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    Just to clarify, though, those reviews would have been published separately, right?
    – E.P.
    Aug 15, 2016 at 0:22

No, reviewers are not usually paid by the journal. However, there seems to be a company, Rubriq, which offers paid peer-review services. I don't know who their current clients are, if any.

A couple of years ago Scientific Reports initiated a project where authors could pay for fast-track peer review, guaranteed within two weeks through Rubriq. The editorial board revolted over the decision and threatened to quit. They argued that doing this would create a peer-review market driven by profit, mostly with undesirable effects on the quality of reviews (reviewers are not selected based on their expertise), and that it would create a two-tier system where researchers who can afford this service would have an unfair advantage in publishing. Finally the project was cancelled.

Take a look at the following webpages:

This story illustrates why most researchers would oppose a system where peer-review is paid. There's also the issue of nearly 100-fold greater salaries on some countries than in others, so what would be a reasonable amount to pay for a review? In the end, paid review could likely create incentives which are not at all aligned with the quality of research.

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