I have been asked to peer review a paper related to my field of expertise. My educational level is MSc, however I am published. I am referred to as Doctor throughout the request email even though when published, this is not how I refer to myself by any means. This has occurred before and I responded that whilst I would be willing to peer review, I was not a PhD, however they asked me to do it regardless (a different journal than the current requesting journal). I am willing to peer review again and am extremely thorough and capable of doing so, however I don’t think you could call me an expert in terms of years and years of papers and academia. I am not sure how to respond. Firstly how was I chosen, was it random or specific enough; it’s a wide field and even when honest about qualifications I was asked to go ahead. Anyone have any thoughts?

Just to add this is a journal under the same umbrella group that I previously reviewed for and one in all likelihood I will submit to myself in the future. Would refusing a request for per review then go against me?

  • 1
    Have you made sure that these journals are not predatory? When I received such invitations as a grad student, and they addressed me as "Doctor", there was always something fishy about the journals. Commented May 1, 2017 at 7:26
  • I don't really know how it could be considered as such and what would be their gain for being predatory, a serious question? It is a good, bona fide journal within the scope of the field. It is a journal I would be extremely happy to be published in myself.
    – panathon
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 8:00
  • OK, the last two sentences of your comment possibly answer the question: it's probably not predatory. However, make sure it's actually the highly reputed journal, and not some other journal with a similar name. Predatory journals are in essence a cash-generation machinery of untrustworthy publishers. How to spot them: see question 1, question 2 Commented May 1, 2017 at 8:36
  • Hi lighthouse keeper, I do appreciate your response. I am fairly savvy in terms of what is real online or not; have worked as a web app developer, I have no end of junk requests, this is true. Not being the most business savvy person however, what is their gain? The journal I am asking about is under the Bentham Science umbrella and the request is perfectly reasonable from a named and identifiable person. I see those OTHER mails and I wonder? I wonder where the money is, or the point to it.
    – panathon
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 9:01
  • Their gain is money - they use the "open access" model, in which the authors pay for being published. (To be clear, "open access" is not a red flag for itself, there need to be additional problems as discussed in the SE questions I mentioned above.) In the case of Bentham, there have been some issues in the past, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bentham_Science_Publishers - maybe it would be best to discuss the issue with an experienced scientist in your research area, for instance, your advisor. Commented May 1, 2017 at 15:12

2 Answers 2


If you have been asked then go ahead, you could check with them. Do consider that they may have chosen you as you may be more "current" in that particular field than some of their "standard" referees.

  • I have to get back to them, so I spelled it out, to check with them based on your and Prof. Santa Claus responses. I feel I am able and have time and want to do it, but want to be fair, because I want someone to be considered and fair to me. The journal is very reputable, I hesitate to name it, but I just thought being a large name in their specific arena, maybe they had a pool already. Trust me, I am not that exciting a researcher.
    – panathon
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 23:25
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    Be proud they asked you - somebody respects your work. Your point about being fair is good - some wouldn't... Just remember they don't have time to waste so they choose who they contact.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 4:30
  • Thanks Solar Mike, I will post an update for anyone with the same question when the journal gets back to me.
    – panathon
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 8:16

Assuming this is a reputable journal, then I don't see any problem, especially if the manuscript is in your areas of expertise. It is this expertise the editor seeks. It is not how long you have been in academia. A good editor will seek multiple opinions. Since you have published in the same area, then you are in a good position to provide useful opinions.

Editors usually do a Google search to find people who have published in the same area. Alternatively, the manuscript in question may have cited your past works. Also, editors tend to have their personal pool of reviewers. Any papers assigned to them will then go these reviewers. Lastly, the journal submission system may maintain a pool of reviewers or past authors and their expertise.

  • Another possibility is that the editor asked someone (for instance, OP's advisor) "who would you suggest as a reviewer", and they made OP's name. Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 22:36
  • Sorry Federico, new to this site; what is the acronym OP referring to? Me?
    – panathon
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 23:09
  • 2
    @panathon "OP" = "original post" or "original poster." Yes, that's you!
    – alephzero
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 23:37

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