Thursday, April 26, 2007

More on academia

OK, the link by Henry L. Roediger, III that I mentioned in my last post about 12 tips on reviewing articles is back. Here they are:

  1. Know your mission
  2. Be speedy
  3. Read carefully
  4. Say positive things in your review
  5. Don’t exhibit hostility or mean-spiritedness in your review
  6. Keep it brief
  7. Don’t nitpick
  8. Develop a good reviewing style
  9. Be careful in recommending further experimentation
  10. Watch for egocentrism
  11. Make a recommendation about the paper, unless the instructions from the editor tell you not to
  12. Sign your review

The tips are good, though I disagree with #6. I think the long ones are often quite good, and reflect a lot of thinking. Both as an editor and as an author, the one paragraph reviews—either positive or negative—don’t tend to affect the revision process much. There doesn’t seem to be a correlation between really crappy reviews and length.

Numbers 3, 4, and 5 are very similar to what I discussed in an article I published in PS last year. There just is no reason to trash people. Following #12 would definitely counter that, though there are good reasons not to sign a review. Even well-reasoned reviews could leave a smoldering effect on the author, which could make life unpleasant, especially when you’re in the same subfield. It is certainly good, though, to follow the advice of writing as if the author may find out your identity.


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