Rebecca Schuman, who has almost single-handedly turned Slate into one of best big websites for coverage of the many trials and tribulations of academia, turns to peer review for scholarly journals, in which an author’s academic peers volunteer to weigh in on whether a manuscript is worthy of publication. Schuman discusses the problems of of both how long the process takes—routinely more than a year, especially with the back-and-forth of revisions—and tone:
Think of your meanest high school mean girl at her most gleefully, underminingly vicious. Now give her a doctorate in your discipline, and a modicum of power over your future. That’s peer review.
And she suggests something that might sound familiar to those of us who hang out in the evolutionary ecology blog-o-verse: enforced reviewing reciprocity.
… what if in order to be eligible to submit an academic article to a journal, a scholar had first to volunteer to review someone else’s article for that same journal? … You want to publish and not perish? First you have to earn that right by making a punctual, non-petty investment into the publishing enterprise.