Getting Credit for Peer Review

It is a great service to the profession to peer review articles, and service to the profession counts at most institutions towards tenure and promotion. But how much does peer reviewing count?

My sense is that the credit one gets for peer reviewing is disproportionately small compared to how important peer reviewing is for the academic enterprise, but it would be good to get more than just my sense of things. If you have a moment, please write in to describe how peer reviewing enters into the evaluation of members of your department (for merit raises, tenure, promotion). How does it enter into your department’s evaluation of job candidates? Are there minimum expectations for the quantity of peer-reviewing one does? Does the quality of the venue for which you are reviewing count? Does the review of whole book manuscripts count for more than the review of article manuscripts? Etc.

One possible obstacle to giving credit for peer review is a lack of a common understanding of how much is normal. While it’s possible for departments to keep track of the numbers internally, I don’t know if any do. Does yours?

In any event, local tallies do not provide a picture of what the norms for the discipline are. Enter Publons. The site was brought to my attention by Simon Evnine (Miami). According to its website, it “allows you to record, verify, and showcase your peer review contributions in a format you can include in job and funding applications (without breaking reviewer anonymity).” And from their About page: “We collect peer review information from reviewers and from publishers, and produce comprehensive reviewer profiles with publisher-verified peer review contributions that researchers can add to their resume.” Reviewers appear to have the option to post the text of their referee reports for published papers.

You can read an interview with Publon’s founder and some users at Nature.comThe site seems to be used mainly, but not exclusively, by academics in the sciences—so far.

Publons lists many philosophy journals, but a quick look revealed that only a handful of them had submitted reviews listed in their profiles. Are any philosophers using this? If so, please share your thoughts and experiences with it. More generally, I am curious whether philosophers think it would be good if Publons or something like it were used widely in the profession.

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