Generous, Generative Peer Review

by eea | Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 12:00 PM

My opening proposition: Peer review at its finest is an act of extraordinary generosity and is capable of engendering generosity in its wake.

Before I go further, though, let me acknowledge that I have, like all academic authors, been on the receiving end of the “reviewer 2” treatment: the review that seems pointlessly contrary, personally motivated, or otherwise determined to destroy the author’s confidence. I’m afraid that I’ve also likely been reviewer 2 at some point, frustrated by a piece of writing that seems to me to overlook something obvious and frankly a bit short-tempered about it.

Peer review can be done badly, or in the wrong spirit, but when done well it is an act of attention to the work of another that makes a powerful contribution to the development of both the field and its community of practice. Peer review at its best fosters not competition but connection, operating not in an economy of scarcity but in a space of collaborative abundance.

But creating the conditions under which peer reviews, and peer reviewers, can be their best — can be collaborative rather than competitive — is not always simple. What might we do in...Read More

On the Occasion of Peer Review Week

by eea | Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 12:00 PM

I have to admit that I’m new to the celebration of Peer Review Week, now in its fifth year, but not new to peer review or the concept of Quality that’s the focus of this year’s observance. I have always held great respect for the process of peer review and those who give of their time to examine a colleague’s publication. Peer review is an honored tradition, an effective method to objectively reflect on and evaluate another’s work in the interest of improvement. The process offers a constructive exchange and the opportunity to think critically about our work, from a relatively unbiased source. It’s not perfect, but it does work.

I view and value the peer review process from three perspectives: as a professional – a physician seeking continued education, as an author seeking respect and affirmation from colleagues, and as a clinician advising, guiding and educating patients, including recommending books. While there are other sound sources of information, it takes more time and effort on the reader’s (my) part to make that determination and analyze the methods, data, results and conclusions in a published non-peer-reviewed work. And in an era where anything can be posted online or self-published,...Read More

Research and the Rites of Passage: Peer Review as part of the Process

by eea | Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 12:00 PM

If you wish to send a chill through an audience of graduate students and young scholars, just mention the custom among academic tribes known as “Publish or Perish.” Horror stories of punitive departmental and campus review committees often extend to the infamy of harsh editorial boards at journals and university presses. The stakes are high and, often, so are the publication acceptance standards. Less clear is whether consideration of manuscripts, whether for journal articles, conference podium presentations, or book publication, are fair.

I welcome an opportunity to write about this because my credentials are bona fide. Namely, I probably have more rejection letters from editors and publishers than most readers of this forum. Worth keeping in mind is that in scholarly writing for publication, batting averages do not count as the whole story. And, speaking of stories, if you happen to have a good story to tell via your research, whether in history or sociology or literature or zoology, quality and commitment ultimately matter a lot.

I like the concept and commitment of peer review in scholarly publication and research grants applications. It is not infallible, but I think it is a good and certainly well-intentioned practice to...Read More

Peer Review Week: Singing the Unsung

by eea | Monday, September 16, 2019 - 12:00 PM

“Do not publish this book!”

This is the shortest peer review I’ve ever received, and by far, the most direct. In five short words, it spoke volumes. I can’t tell you who wrote it—that would violate a trust—but I can tell you the book never saw the light of day. Most peer reviews are more constructive, but this one stands out in my mind for its, well, minimalism.

Most peer reviews are less declarative and less decisive. Some run ten pages or more describing the book’s ideas and improvements the author could make. The reviewer who takes her charge seriously—to provide constructive feedback about the potential book—creates something that the book’s author will find useful. It’s also terrifically flattering. What, after all, is more satisfying than knowing that someone has read your work, thought about it, and responded to it?

University presses vary greatly in their size and scope, but the one aspect that unites them is their reliance on peer review. We use peer review to help decide what we publish. Since editors can’t be an expert in every field in which they acquire, they use other scholars who are “peers” of the author to help...Read More

The Importance of Book Reviews

by bjs | Monday, September 16, 2019 - 10:00 AM

The age-old academic adage of "publish or perish" still exists. Publishing a book can play a critical role in the future of any academic. However, one piece of that important puzzle plays an important role in the journals published by the JHU Press.

Book reviews.

Many of our 90 journals include reviews of important scholarship in each issue. These essays might not always get the attention of the other articles published by our journals, but the reviews play many critical roles in academic life.

We interviewed Book Review Editors from three of our journals to learn about the importance of the work they do.

Audio titled The Importance of Book Reviews

The age-old academic adage of "publish or perish" still exists. Publishing a book can play a critical role in the future of any academic. However, one piece of that important puzzle plays an important role in the journals published by the JHU Press.

Book reviews.

Many of our 90 journals include reviews of important scholarship in each issue. These essays might not always get the attention of the other articles published by our journals, but the reviews play many critical roles in academic...Read More