Typical review loads

Since becoming faculty at TTI, I’ve started to appreciate better the tensions of service commitments and I can see how many people begin to view reviewing as a chore, a burden they must bear to maintain goodwill in the “community.” Since I work in a few different communities now, I end up reviewing papers from a lot of different areas : information theory and signal processing of course, but also machine learning, security, and networks. There’s been a distinct uptick in my reviewing queue, which I find somewhat alarming.

Looking back, I did a quick calculation and in the almost 6 months I’ve been here, I’ve either finished or committed to reviewing 9 journal papers and 16 conference papers. These numbers don’t really mean too much, because some journal papers are shorter (e.g. a correspondence) and some conference papers are long (40+ pages including supplementary material). Page numbers also don’t really help because of formatting differences. I’m hoping my new iPad (ooh, shiny!) will let me pack in some reviewing time during my commute and stop me from killing so many trees.

However, I have no idea if these numbers are typical. I’ve turned down review requests because I felt like I don’t have enough time as it is. So readers : what’s a typical review load like? Should I just suck it up and accept more reviews?

Note that I’m not asking about what’s “fair” in terms of I submit N papers and therefore should review 3N or something like that. Those games are fine and all, but I really wonder what the distribution of review load is across individuals for a given journal. More on that point later…

Update: I should be clear that being on a PC will clearly cause your review load to go up. I am on 2 PCs but for smaller conferences; having 10+ ISIT reviews would add significantly to one’s total load.