Week 11: Peer Review

The Robinson and Agne reading referred to Mohan J. Dutta, and his paper “The Ten Commandments of Reviewing: The Promise of a Kinder, Gentler Discipline!” (2006). I found his article through the University of Toronto library website and suggest you all give it a go! I really like his positive approach and, having read his article, don’t feel that the peer review process has to be a scary one! I’ve listed the ten guidelines below:

1. Approach reviewing as a collaborative task (act as a teacher instead of opponent)

2. Put aside your ego (be thoughtful, do not be upset if your work isn’t cited!)

3. Be reflexive (reflect on and check your biases)

4. Understand the paradigms

5. Understand the limitations of the project

6. Don’t feel that you need to demonstrate how much you know (be understated, subtle)

7. Be specific in your recommendations

8. Provide feedback in a timely manner (someone is depending on you, have high commitment)

9. Encourage! (you can be evaluative, challenging yet gentle and kind)

10. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (write reviews you would like to receive)

I have mixed feelings about the Sokal affair. On the one hand, I think it is irresponsible for a journal to simply publish articles without going through the peer review process. This was a great read after our lecture this past week – it nicely complements the importance of peer review to the advancement of knowledge amongst academics and professionals. Although I understand where Alan Sokal is coming from, I would have handled it differently. I would have sent an open letter to Social Text or presented my thoughts at a conference. However, since I don’t feel anywhere as strongly about this as Sokal did, I would not be deceitful and take the time to write a hoax article to embarass the journal.

At the bottom of the Wikipedia article, a study done by Cornell sociologist Robb Willer with student participants is described. Two groups were given Sokal’s hoax article; one group were told it was written by a student, the other group were told it was written by a famous academic. The results showed that the latter group looked upon the text more favourably. I probably would have fallen for this trick as well. One of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s 6 Universal Principles of Influence is Authority. We comply with those who are perceived as authorities, even though it may not always be rational (e.g., a celebrity endorsing a car manufacturer when he/she knows very little about cars).

Camille Johnson




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One response to “Week 11: Peer Review

  1. Pingback: Peer Review | The Twelve Forties

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