Saturday, January 13, 2018

Peer-reviewing the peer review—why not?

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The seeming dullness of our subject area inevitably limits the number of books a typical text-critic writes in their lifetime. Article-writing, then, is one of the fundamental ways in which we unleash our groundbreaking ideas onto unsuspecting scholarly public. Fundamental to scholarly publishing is the notion of peer-review, and for a good reason. Having a layer (or two) of formal feedback before one’s work goes to print has a great potential to improve the work and eliminate, or minimise the number of, embarrassing errors (been there, done that). But peer-review often takes bizarrely long: anywhere from 2 (which is great) to 12 (which is unreasonable) months. Sometimes the review process is not very transparent. And some journals don’t care to send any formal feedback to the author, apart from the letter of acceptance and rejection. I have a handful of examples for each of the above, but won’t mention any names. The good news is that there now seems to be a formal tool to review the way journals review our articles and it’s called SciRev. I’d encourage all of you with publishing (or at least submitting) experience to register for free and write a few reviews; it’s a matter of filling out a simple questionnaire, but I think it’s well worth the 15 or so minutes of your time.

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