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On Peer-Reviewing: Purpose, Future and Flaws

Within academia, peer-reviewing is the backbone of quality assurance and a practice where people in your academic field evaluate what you have achieved and make suggestions for improvement. Peer-reviewing takes place at many levels and stages in a scholar’s career: a research grant proposal is reviewed by the grant givers, a research article is reviewed before publishing, your entire accomplishment as a researcher is reviewed by a promotion board and experts in the field when you apply for promotion. Below are two great articles on the subject of peer-reviewing.

The editors speak: what makes a good review
Scholars get little to no training in how to write good reviews. Here are advice from academic journal editors on best practice reviewing, an example:

“Good reviews help the author(s) to improve the work. Reviews that highlight what is good about the work and build upon it are much preferable to reviews that tear work apart. In my view reviewers should be arbiters of “quality” rather than arbiters of “taste”. Instead of deciding whether research is interesting or novel, instead decide whether it is well done, whether it is an advance over what has already been published, and whether it needs to be improved/clarified in order to be as persuasive as possible.”

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Peer Review in Academic Promotion and Publishing
The Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley, recently published a report where the entire peer-review system is examined. It is also a great resource for learning more about scholarly communication and publishing in general.

Read the report on

Bootstrapped Publishing – DIY FTW
As a bonus, here’s a blog post written by MEDEA’s former entrepreneur-in-residence Jon Kolko on why he thinks the publishing industry is flawed and why you – as an author – should bypass it and do-it-yourself. What Kolko doesn’t mention in the article is how much time you need to spend yourself on distribution and marketing and how much that time is worth in dollars.

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Related: the MEDEA project Journal of X and Z examines how to set up an academic journal on collaborative media design.

Image credit: Nic’s events CC:BY-SA

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