The reviewing stage is fundamental to any conference. Without reviewing, there won’t be any good feedback loops, and without feedback loops, research communities cannot develop and improve.
Reviewers are one of the hardest working groups of people behind the scenes at a conference, but do they get the recognition they deserve? More importantly, do they want recognition?
In our opinion, all too often reviewers don’t get the enough credit for the work they do. Without them, research conferences simply could not take place. They work behind the scenes voluntarily. It could take a whole day to review a paper thoroughly. This reviewing is done in their own leisure time and there are often tight deadlines to meet.
It can be difficult to know exactly how to thank reviewers. Usually, if a reviewer is reviewing for a journal, a simple ‘Thank You’ message with the list of all the Technical Program Committee will appear in the December issue, or a “we thank our Technical Program Committee” message is published in the conference book of abstracts. While it is good practice, it is slightly impersonal. Is this enough recognition to give the people that play such an integral part of your conference?
On the flip side, we have to ask ourselves the question – do reviewers actually want thanks for what they do? Some may not expect it, but it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like to feel appreciated. However, there is a line that has to be drawn. You do not want to patronise reviewers. Some may think that reviewing is the repayment they must give their community for the pleasure of holding an academic position, and they don’t need thanks for that. Reviewing is in essence part of the parcel that and roles that come with being an academic.
So how do you thank them?
It is very tricky to know when and even if there’s an appropriate time to thank reviewers. On the one hand, reviewers may be grateful for the time taken by the Chair to write a personal email of thanks for example, but on the other you have to be careful it doesn’t patronise them for the work they love doing. In our opinion, a simple email highlighting that their work is appreciated and it doesn’t go unnoticed is is sufficient in most cases. This will show the reviewers they are valued part of the conference but are not patronised when doing so.