ORI Introduction to RCR: Chapter 10. Peer Review
The effort researchers put into peer review is for the most part not compensated. Researchers may receive reimbursement for travel and per diem when they attend special grant-review sessions and occasionally are paid a basic daily stipend, but this seldom covers the true cost of reviewing a manuscript or a stack of grant applications. As uncompensated effort, the time researchers devote to peer review can easily take second place to other obligations. Running a crucial experiment or submitting a grant application on time understandably is more important than reviewing someone else’s work.
However pressed you are for time, if you agree to do a review, you should find the time to meet your obligation in a timely manner. Research is competitive. Researchers are rewarded for discoveries. They should not lose their priority for a discovery due to the tardiness of a reviewer sending comments on a manuscript. Research is also useful. The announcement of discoveries that can benefit the public should not be delayed because someone who agreed to review a manuscript does not have the time to do the review.
Editors, program managers, and others who rely on peer review to make decisions generally provide a deadline for getting the review done when they first contact reviewers. Anyone who agrees to take on a peer review assignment under these conditions should meet the proposed deadline. If the time frame is not reasonable, either decline to do the review or ask for more time in advance. Do not delay someone else’s work just because you are short on time.