When approached to referee a mathematics paper there are of course a couple of factors to consider in the decision of whether to accept the task or not.


  • Do I have sufficient background knowledge to referee this paper?
  • Am I an “expert” in this particular field?

Why did they approach me?

I guess there are two possibilities:

  • The authors suggested me as a possible reviewer (the authors might know me).
  • The editor came across my name (either through connection, studying cited papers of the paper at hand, search for similar papers, asking a colleague).

This will mostly just be speculative as editors don’t seem to typically review such information.


  • The number of papers that I am currently already reviewing. There is only so much one can do without greatly affection one’s own research productivity.

My question is:

How do people weight these factors?

How do experienced reviewers decide on whether to accept to review a paper?

With how many papers to review on the desk do people say no? (of course length of the papers is a factor here too).

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