[Humanist] 27.389 peer review

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Oct 1 07:32:22 CEST 2013


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 389.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2013 09:51:11 -0600
        From: Barbara Bordalejo <bb268 at nyu.edu>
        Subject: Re:  27.387 peer review
        In-Reply-To: <20130930053844.B6C8930A0 at digitalhumanities.org>


Hi James,

I think you make some very good points, but I wish you had elaborated more
on the "open process" you suggest. I have some experience editing a journal
for which we used blind peer review, a process that I was responsible for
setting up. The problem, as Martin has already pointed out, is that
sometimes it is very evident who wrote a paper. A further problem is that
some reviewers seem to "enjoy" to discover who wrote what or to confirm a
suspicion about the identity of an author. So, when these factors are taken
into account it is very difficult to sustain a "blind" process (although we
might want to pretend that everything is fine). Double blind review does
not help much either, as it is generally carried out by the same group of
established academics.

I am not sure what you had in mind with the open process, but what I would
like to see is the end of a blind review process that is only in place to
protect the reviewers or even to allow people to exert petty vengeances or
advance themselves. My preference would be a completely open system in
which every individual takes responsibility for what they write (positive
or negative) about anyone else's work. If we could implement a completely
open process reviewers would have to be much more mindful about what they
write and would have to question themselves all the time: are my comments
constructive and can they lead to an improvement of this piece? Is *my own
argument* supported by the evidence? Am I being fair? Is there a conflict
of interests here? Are their personal feelings involved in my review? Will
the majority of my colleagues see my objections as fair?

When I write a review (or an article, or even a message to this or other
distribution lists) I ask myself whether if this text were to be available
in future years I would feel OK about it. I want to be able to sign my
writings knowing that I have tried to do my best, but that my best is not
achieved by preventing others to take part in the community or by being
destructive or negative just for the sake of it.

The academic world would be much better if we asked scholars to own their
words.

Best,

BB

On Sun, Sep 29, 2013 at 11:38 PM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 387.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2013 18:46:30 +0100
>         From: "James O'Sullivan" <josullivan.c at gmail.com>
>         Subject: Re:  27.381 peer review
>         In-Reply-To: <20130927034451.B8E262DAB at digitalhumanities.org>
>
>
> Thanks to all for the informed responses.
>
> I think Dr Terras raises a good point when she points out that the DH
> community has changed a lot since 2005 - perhaps the time has come to
> revisit the review process in respect of such changes?
>
> There are leaders in this field who, as many have pointed out, are
> identifiable as a result of their research interests etc, but there is an
> increasingly wider group of scholars who are not so easily identifiable,
> and to my mind, the fairest way to appraise their work is either via a
> double-blind or open process. I think when a review process is
> single-blind, there will always be doubt in relation to selections, and I
> think that this is unfair on both reviewers and the reviewed.
>
> There might of course be other logistical reasons to be taken into account;
> again, more experienced individuals might be in a position to highlight
> these, but I do think that this process should be reconsidered, or at least
> opened up to a wider debate.
>
> Just my two cents - and thanks again to all for input.
>
> Best regards,
> James
>
>





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