When I was still at Exeter, I used to do an average of about 4 peer reviews per week of articles that had been submitted to all sorts of journals for publication. Now I reject most of these invitations and do perhaps just one per month.
Conducting a peer review is by no means an easy task. You have to realize that the authors have usually put a lot of hard work into their paper and a lot may depend on it in terms of their future. They thus have the right to receive a fair and responsible review. To do the job properly, it took me (even with plenty of experience in reading scientific papers) between 1 and 3 hours per article. Crucially, low-quality articles typically submitted to low-quality journals are more work than papers that adhere to a certain standard.
I do not think that the journal editors who send the submissions out for review appreciate how much work they ask from the reviewers. They normally pay nothing (even if they charge exorbitant handling fees from the authors) and offer you no benefit at all. In addition, many have systems that are more than tedious asking you to register, create a pin number, etc., etc. Then you have to follow certain rules and formats that differ from journal to journal. In a word, they add an administrative burden to the task of reading, understanding, checking a paper, and composing your judgment on it.
All this can be cumbersome but it’s not the reason why I do less and less peer reviews. The true reason is that research papers on so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) are now mostly published in one of the many 3rd class SCAM journals that have recently sprung up. There are so many of them that they, of course, struggle to get enough articles to fill their pages. In turn, this means that they are far too keen to publish anything regardless of its quality or validity. As a consequence, the quality of these articles and their authors are often dismal.
Here is an example of a (rather shocking but not unusual) email I received only today; it might show you what I mean:
I want to publish some papers in “Areas related to your research field”. Can you help me? I can provide a thank you fee!
For example, I will give you a $2000 thank you fee for helping me write articles. For example, if you add my name to your article, I will give you a $1000 thank you fee. Or I can help you pay for APC.
I know this email is presumptuous, but my friends and I need to publish dozens of papers every year. If you can help me, we can cooperate for a long time. I’m not kidding, I’m very sincere!
If you are offended, please forgive me!
Look forward to your reply!
Warmly Wishes, …
When I do a review for a low-quality SCAM journal and find major defects in an article, my experience has been that the editor then decides to publish it nonetheless. When this happens, I feel frustrated and ask myself: WHY DID THEY ASK FOR MY OPINION IF THEY DO NOT ABIDE BY IT?
Thus I decided that these journals are just as well off without my contributions. So, if you are an editor of a SCAM journal, do me a favor and do not molest me with your invitations to conduct a peer review and
COUNT ME OUT!