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Professor Pietro Cicuta

There are aspects of our work that few people know about (in the sense that they are voluntary, and behind the scenes, and probably quite unequally spread out), but are fairly substantial and essential to the running of our current science system. It was easy and interesting to me to look back and collect some quantitative info on the effort devoted to peer review and graduate examination.

Referee work

I have added up the papers I have published, and those I have reviewed, starting from 2007. 2007 is a slightly arbitrary starting point, handy because I still have the review files from then. Was also more or less the time I started having graduate students working with me, i.e. a group.

It seems I am reviewing about twice the number of own publications. This seems roughly ok: each paper submitted will take the work of 3 or 4 reviewers, but each paper carries various authors, often more than one of these is an active reviewer. I am averaging over 13 reviewed papers per year.

Graduate student examination

This is a very important task in the UK, because just two examiners study the candidate's PhD thesis and carry out the exam. The work, including reading, traveling (or hosting), the exam itself, and paperwork, takes between 2 and 3 days for each exam. I have plotted here in blue the running total of PhD exams I have done (i.e. someone else's student), and in red twice the number of those that I have put "out" into the community. Clearly a sustainable community needs PhD supervisors to make sure they balance these numbers.

It seems things are ok. It's interesting that as I approach 30 exams done, that means about 80 days of work, i.e. 16 working weeks.