I've spent the bulk of today working on reviewing a manuscript for a peer-reviewed scientific journal. I was asked by an editor that I have never met to review a paper by authors that I do not know for a journal I rarely read.
Of course, I leaped at the opportunity.
Some researchers hate this and shun it as much as possible. I actually like it. It makes me feel like I'm participating in the process, and I'm still at the stage where being asked to review papers is a rare thing. Being asked to write a review is still a bit of an ego boost for me.
Particularly in cases like this, where you have no direct personal connection with any of the players involved. The research community is so small -- especially the ones I tend to hang out in -- that it's kind of rare to have something like this drop out of the blue and have no personal knowledge of the people involved.
Speaking of the scientific publishing process, I was recently reminded of how little people understand how it works. I was explaining the submission process to one of my students, and mentioned how some journals have a submission fee (for instance, the PLoS journals).
This prompted a "Wait, what?"
Then I tried to explain page charges...
I genuinely think a lot of people think that scientific publishing follows the models of other forms of publishing: writers are paid for their work. It doesn't. In scientific publishing, you're lucky if you can find a journal that publishes your work that won't cost you anything.