Lately I seem to be suffering from a strange syndrome that could be called review addiction. I could also call it extreme reviewing, not because my reviews are extremely negative/positive or extremely long/short, but because I am currently reviewing what I would typically consider (for me) to be an extreme number of manuscripts (8), in addition to a few dozen proposals.
Another way to describe this syndrome is that I have become a reviewing doormat, unable to just say no to editor requests to review.
There are many possible explanations for my extreme reviewing behavior of late, including:
- Based on the manuscript titles/abstracts, I was interested in reading and reviewing these manuscripts. It just so happens that I have lately been asked to review some interesting papers. I was curious to read them, so it was difficult to decline to review them.
- As someone who seeks reviewers in the capacity of being an editor, I know what it's like to have trouble finding a reviewer for a manuscript. I could easily decline to review a manuscript on the basis that I am unable to take on more reviews. However, if I've got a manageable editorial load at the time I am asked to review another manuscript and I'm interested in the topic, I say yes.
- A year or so ago I started publishing on a research topic that was a new direction for me, and now I get asked to review manuscripts related to this topic. I am interested in establishing myself more in this particular subfield, and reviewing is one way to become part of the scientific community related to this topic.
- I have a manuscript in review or am about to submit a manuscript to all of the journals that recently asked me to review a manuscript. I feel that I have a moral obligation to review for these particular journals, as their editors and reviewers are (or, I hope will soon be) taking the time to consider my manuscripts.
- Some of these manuscripts cite my work, and I have an interest in making sure that this was done appropriately and accurately.
- As I learned last week, I am not quantitative. Perhaps I can't count. Perhaps the number 1 is conceptually the same to me as the number 8.
The perceptive reader will note the use of the Sarcastic Font in the last item, but it could be that I succumbed to a bout of extreme reviewing owing to a related effect, which I will call the incremental effect. That is, I got asked to do a review and said yes. I got asked to do another, and said yes because I can certainly handle 2 reviews. Then I got asked to do another and I figured, what's one more? The end of the semester is approaching and it's an interesting paper and.. then I got asked to do another and it was also an interesting paper and didn't seem to be too long and .. so on.
I wouldn't have agreed to do all these reviews if I didn't think I could do them well and get them done in a timely way. I don't think I will take on any more until 2008, though.
Evidence that I am not a complete review doormat: I turned down one recent review request because one editor sent me two requests in a single day for two different manuscripts for the same journal; I accepted one to review and declined the other.
11 hours ago