Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A question on reviewing

You are asked to review a paper for a conference (not a journal). You find that the paper is on a problem that you have been working on for some time. This makes you
  1. An expert reviewer eminently qualified to review the paper ?
  2. A conflicted reviewer who should recuse themself ?
  3. Insert your choice here.
Parameters to consider:
  • You either do or do not have prior published work on this topic
  • The problem is exactly what you were working on, or closely related
  • You have submitted something similar to the conference (I think this makes (2) the more likely choice) or not.


  1. In addition, this paper got rejected from the previous conference because of a previous paper of yours, altought the current submission is strong.

    Also, you submitted a paper with very similar results to a weaker conference, with a much simpler proof.

    Posted by Anonymous

  2. It depends on whether I already have a published result on the problem or not. If I don't then (a), if I do and my result is already published, then (a), otherwise (b).

    Posted by Anonymous

  3. Case (c) is a clear conflict of interest and I'd bail out. If the paper is good enough to be in the conference, there would be other experts who can review. If this other author and I are the only two people who can understand or care about the results, it shouldn't be in the conference anyway.

    (b) is somewhat ill-specified. In general, if the paper is a solution to the problem you wanted to solve but didn't finish solving, there shouldn't be any conflict of interest. On the other hand, there could be cases where you wouldn't want to see the paper since you want to work further on the problem (and IMHO working on follow up to a paper you review should be avoided until the paper is public).

    I am not sure why (a) should matter. Or do I misunderstand the question?

    Of course, this is all under 

    Posted by Anonymous

  4. "am not sure why (a) should matter. Or do I misunderstand the question? "

    Hmm. I thought it did, but the reason escapes me now. I think it had something to do with whether you have credibility in the area already, in which case the 'conflict' may not be that pronounced. But I feel that this is slightly woolly headed. 

    Posted by Suresh


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