On Servicing the Profession as a Graduate Student

Posted on September 8, 2015 by

Cross posted over at the Philosopher’s Cocoon (see here with nice comments and further questions in the thread)

A week or so ago I received an email asking me to review a paper for a journal, this is not the first such email I have received asking this service of me. It seems that the longer I have been in the discipline the more I get asked to do things like review manuscripts (Springer) and journal articles, I’m okay with it and I am getting use to it. But, though I am truly flattered, these tasks are a lot of work! Especially monograph reviews. So, I ask you my fellow “cocooners” and readers of the blog more generally, how much service should graduate students be doing before they get their PhD? I’ll mention that I have agreed to review the paper as it is a topic I have spent a good amount of time thinking about. I’ve researched and written on the topic over the past few years so I get why I was asked. I just wanted to ask a few questions about the practice of servicing a discipline before one has received their PhD.

Specifically, how much reviewing should grad students partake in? As much as they can spare? None? Further, given that I have not yet passed my PhD defense, am I  the sort of person that should be reviewing articles that will appear in journals? After all, journal publications, at least this is how I have seen them, are cutting edge research on a topic that requires expertise re: the literature surrounding the topic. A passed PhD diss written on the topic would show such expertise, as would a pub in a great journal. But I have neither. I have edited a collection, I’m editing a 2nd one as well, and I have published a few short response pieces, but I don’t have that 25 page go to pub. Regardless, I do consider myself very knowledgable on the topics for which I have agreed to review, so I guess I am thinking that I am competent enough to do it, but should I be doing these sorts of activities prior to getting hired in the profession? And a further but related question arises: do we want grad students being the gate keepers to the next flood of research being done on a  given topic?

So, a bit less cryptically: (1) should grad students be doing journal/manuscript reviews before they get a PhD? (2) How much reviewing should one agree to do?; (3) Is this good for the discipline?; (4) Do I owe service to a discipline that has not given me a job yet?

Thanks in advance!