Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Peer Review and Public Forums—or—Putting the Public Back into Publications
The New York Times just ran a story about an experiment the journal Shakespeare Quarterly just tried that allowed a group of experts to comment online on four articles submitted for publication. It seems most of those involved think the experiment improved the articles, all of which were eventually accepted for publication in the journal. This experiment could help develop a new way to vet scholarship (and to replace the ever shrinking post-publication review process, at least for monographs). The critical question (or perhaps obstacle) is will publications that use this method be taken seriously by tenure committees. The other issue only briefly touched on by the article is will this process offer the frequently in-depth analysis and critique that peer review has traditionally offered, or will it instead devolve into the kind of brief and petty sniping often found in the comment sections of blogs or newspapers. If we can figure out this piece, perhaps a more open and accessible ecosystem of scholarly communication can finally be achieved.