Earlier this week I got an email asking me to review a paper. I was a bit surprised because I have not actually had anything published yet myself. (My first paper is in review.) So maybe an author was doing something relevant to my research and suggested me as a reviewer.
I was even more surprised when I saw the name of the journal. Let's call it "Journal of Handicap-Accessible Web Design." But let's say that my work is in the field of the "Journal of Blogging." So there's some distant relationship between the fields of the JoHAWD and JoB, but not a whole lot. Maybe some JoHAWD readers belong to the same professional society that I do. Maybe not.
I looked at the title of the paper. I had to read it three times before I understood it. Then I read the abstract twice just to make sure. The manuscript's subject was very technical and nothing even remotely relevant to my field, much less my research. There's no way that I could provide a good review of this paper.
Then it occurred to me. The first time I went to a professional meeting, I on the third day of the weeklong conference. When I went to pick up my name badge, I was handed one that read "Science Woman" but listed my affiliation as "Government Agency." It turns out that there is another "Science Woman" that belongs to the same society, and that she had arrived earlier and taken my badge. I looked up her talk, decided it wasn't really relevant, and nearly forgot about the incident.
Until 3 years later as I was puzzling over weird review request. The other Science Woman works in Handicap-Accessible Web Design.
My guess is that the authors of the manuscript requested her as a reviewer, and the journal editor didn't know who she was. So they googled our name, got me, and sent off the manuscript. Only, they got the wrong person.
Has this ever happened to anyone else?