Advice to RefereesWhen can I reasonably decline a request to referee a paper?
Referees are under a lot of time pressure and might sometimes need to send papers back without refereeing them. Please keep the following points in mind
- If you have recently had a paper published, accepted for publication, or even just advanced to the invited revision stage at the CJE, the editors will expect you to do a reasonable amount of refereeing. People who use the resources of the Journal without contributing to the refereeing process are free riders.
- If you must decline, let the editor know quickly (within a few days of receiving the paper), by FAX or e-mail. The paper can be returned by regular mail.
- It is helpful to provide the names of alternative referees. However, names of obvious prominent scholars are not much help, as the editor has probably thought of them already. Ideal suggestions are young active scholars who might not be overburdened with other duties and with whom the editor might not be familiar.
- If you are not competent to referee a paper in a particular area, you should return the paper and explain the reason, indicating a willingness to handle papers in your area, which you should specify clearly. Keep in mind, however, that the editor might have asked you precisely because you can provide perspective. It is helpful to the editor if you make comments appropriate to your background, even if you cannot appreciate all aspects of a paper.