My Refereeing Policy

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Dear Prof. ???

I will be happy to referee this paper by ???, either on or very near ???, 200?, as in my refereeing policy which is attached below. Please let me know if you are interested in my report on that date.

Sincerely,

Dror Bar-Natan.

            My Refereeing Policy (as of August 21, 2004)
            ============================================
              (please do not forward to the author(s))

In short: I referee up to 6 papers a year (much more than my own
output), spending up to a full day (8 hours) on each one. At the end of
such a day I write what I can write - great, awful, in between or
"couldn't tell". If it's too hard (i.e., takes more than a day of work)
I don't do it.
   
In detail: After years of feeling inadequate and frustrated with
writing referee reports (I've always been slow and hardly ever felt  
that I've done a complete job) in October 2003 I've decided to codify 
my refereeing policy. My aims are twofold: To put bounds on the process
for my own sake, and to have a policy document (this one) I can forward
to editors to set expectations clear.
 
1. Upon receipt of a referee request I will either reject it outright  
   or assign a full day for reading the relevant article and writing a
   report about it, at least two months after and preferably no more
   than three months after the scheduled completion of all my previous
   refereeing assignments.
   
2. I will then send the assigned date along with this policy document   
   to the editor; it is up to the editor to decide if the report, of 
   nature as described below and at the specified assigned date,
   remains of interest for him/her.
   
3. Assuming the editor remains interested, I will referee the article
   and send my report on the assigned date, or, if for some unexpected
   reason I am unable to spend a day on the article on the assigned
   date, I will re-assign a day for that article at the nearest
   convenient date and notify the editor of the new date.

4. My report will likely be as deep as it can be after one day of work,
   but no more. I will attempt to identify and understand the main
   point of the paper and confirm that some new idea is present that   
   makes the main point likely attainable. I will comment on the
   overall value of the paper as I see it after a day of reading. But I
   may not have the time to read details and a positive recommendation
   may not mean that I am convinced that the paper is fully correct or
   even that the main point is true. Likewise, while I will be acting 
   in good faith, a negative recommendation may sometimes mean that in 
   one day of reading I still miss the point, which may well be present
   and may be great.
 
This document is subject to change and revision by its author.