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Should the referees of journal articles be paid?

已有 2362 次阅读 2013-11-4 15:13 |个人分类:编辑杂谈|系统分类:论文交流|关键词:peer-reviewers,,payment| peer-reviewers, payment

In the present international convention, journals editors, associate editors, reviewers usually do their work for the journals without any payment.

But nowadays, an increasing numbers of papers are published every year, qualified reviewers have become important and rare resources to the journals. For many journals the biggest issue is to invite sufficient and suitable reviewers who are willing to accept the invitation.  

So the question to pay the reviewer has put forward.

In Researchgate Faysal Fayez in University of British Columbia (Vancouver) put forward the question, "should referees of journal articles be paid?"


Several scholars expressed their views about this question.  Here are several quotations from the discussion:


Phillip Morris

In the past, in order to keep costs to their organaisations as low as possible, authors, editors, associate editors and referees tacitly agreed to work without payment for the good of their subject, as part of their professional responsibility (usually as members of learned societies), via their work on scholarly journals, usually controlled by Trusts. However these types of journals have almost disappeared, to be replaced by aggressive commercial companies.

Publishing companies make huge profits from Journal publications and will continue to do so under OA but yet they don’t pay their editors, associate editors or their referees, for their work. What other private commercial business would be allowed to get away with not paying either their suppliers (authors) or workforce (editors, associate editors and referees).

In such an environment the previous tacit agreements between publishers and authors, editors, associate editors and referees no longer exist and such companies should pay the economic rates for this work. As most editors, associate editors and referees are also authors, then at least we would have the ability to pay for our own publications. If this makes publishers uncompetitive then so be it. If their business model is not tenable then why should they survive?


Tiia Vissak ·(University of Tartu )

I've been a reviewer many times for free, so, on one hand, of course, earning something sounds nice, but, on the other hand, paying reviewers would make journals even more expensive as publishing companies would still wish to earn high profits, and then, some libraries would not afford them. Also, then, maybe some reviewers would take too many papers (or those on topics they don't know much) to review to earn more money and this could reduce the quality of reviews and, as a result, published papers. 


It's an interesting idea that paying people for it could make the quality of the review go down! Economic theory would then suggest that reviewers must already be being paid in something they value more than money - kudos, perhaps!

Certainly reviewers already do make a considerably greater effort for a journal review than for a conference review. I think good journals could afford to pay reviewers, but since the academic editors are likely not being paid, that would be a bit strange. Would pay improve the quality of my review a bit? I think it would. Kudos is fine, but a bit of actual money shows that you're not just the first person in a long line of other better choices who happened not to scream and shout "no, no" when asked. So I'm all for it in that sense. The editor can always start not asking me if he/she doesn't like the quality of my reviews.

On the other hand, I've had enough of people who think they're entitled because they're paying (students, I mean). So money should not be allowed into the process if it's going to turn out like that.

When I was a postdoc I used to review new books as a way to get some extra books I could keep for nothing. One chose from a list. Don't some journals sort of "pay" by offering some minor privileges like access to their database of past articles? That would be payment enough.


Dunlian Qiu (Journal of Mountain Science)

Although our journal (the Journal of Mountain Science) doesn't pay the authors outside the China mainland, we grant the reviewers rights to read the the whole year's published papers for free and the reviewers will be acknowledged in the last issue of the journal and on the journal's web. We also provide some other preferential conditions for the reviewers. I think paying the reviewers can possibly raise the reviewer's willingness to accept review invitation but it's a little troublesome for the payment. I think the biggest issue is to handle the payment. So if it's possilble, we can consider to establish a referee database, and then we can consider paying the referees for a period of time such as at the year-end.

Faysal Fayez 

Thank you all for the interesting, valuable inputs and replies. I am a firm believer that in order to raise the quality of the papers, the quality of the reviews, the speed of publishing, the interest in publishing, the ability to push further our boundaries of knowing (if to keep the status que tradition of doing research as is); there must be a smart economic formula that should be - not very difficultly - made. Paying at least two of the three players (the author, reviewer, and editor) who are involved in the big, time-taking, complex process, should be a viable idea worth considering. Companies (the publishers), either slowly or fast, will keep make money. The people who write, review, and publish should have a considerable portion of the benefit. Many people won't see anything wrong about that if the process is to become more efficient, overall. 


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