Conditions of Use
I found this text to be an excellent introduction to the issues inherent in the peer review process. I especially appreciate that this is not simply a text, but a self-paced course that allows the reader to understand their role and... read more
I found this text to be an excellent introduction to the issues inherent in the peer review process. I especially appreciate that this is not simply a text, but a self-paced course that allows the reader to understand their role and responsibilities as a peer reviewer. They are guided through the power imbalances built into the process and then given the opportunity to reflect on their own biases. New and experienced peer reviewers will benefit from the resources and activities the book offers.
The book draws upon a variety of publicly available resources, all linked in the digital text and easily accessible at the time of this review. These resources are related not only to the process of peer review (such a number of scholarly journals' and societies' own materials about the process peer review) but also to information related to issues around DEIJ and implicit bias. While later chapters are more geared towards librarians and other library and information science professionals, this emphasis does not preclude other academic workers from finding the information they contain valuable.
While the digital resources that are used in the self-driven course are very good, the internet is always evolving, with things being moved, taken down, or updated all the time. My preference here would be for a companion website that would host versions of these videos, articles, blog posts, etc. in a way that would be more stable. I understand that this would likely be a permissions/copyright nightmare, and is most likely not feasible. But it is an aspect of the text that somewhat gives me pause.
The text is extremely clear and accessible. Where necessary, the author takes time to link to definitions and resources about new or necessary concepts (such as in-group and out-group in the chapter on identifying biases or Critical Theory in the chapter about more deeply examining established practices in peer review). This approach is appropriate to this text. Where some may desire full definitions or clarifications of these concepts, they are often too broad to be captured in what is supposed to be a primer on peer reviews and a self-paced course. In this way, the author provides ample information for the reader about important concepts without derailing the reader's progress through the text and the course.
The chapters and course modules have consistent structure and easy-to-follow instructions. The course objectives for each module are made clear at the beginning of the book and at the top of each chapter. Each module has a clear purpose and focus, and the reader is always in control of their progress through the material.
I don't think this category applies to this book. While presumably a reader/student can approach a book in any way they wish, it is apparent to me that a reader should definitely read at least the 4-5 chapters in order. This is not to the book's or the author's detriment; the author has laid out a very deliberate structure that takes the reader carefully through the process of peer review, its opportunities, and its issues.
The chapters cover a variety of topics and issues in peer review--ones that early careers scholars are often not uniformly trained to contend with. Additionally, I found the self-paced course components to be laid out with thoughtfulness and care, with tasks that are manageable and which a person could reasonably fit around their other responsibilities.
I found the icons (indicating what sort of activity the reader was about to engage in: read, watch, listen, do) a bit out of proportion with the rest of the text, but this more of a personal preference. There were no other interface issues with the text.
I did not identify any grammatical errors.
I did not identify any cultural insensitivity, and I think one of the book's aims is to mitigate the historical exclusivity and inequity of academia and the peer review process.
This text is a good start for any peer reviewer, new or experienced. I appreciate the author's emphasis on examining one's own personal biases as well as established practices in the process of peer review. Finally, I think the final chapter and module, essentially a call to action to establish our own ethos of peer review and to "articulate [our] positionality and values regarding peer review" (Ford 47), is especially vital. We must ask ourselves why we do peer review, what value we derive from it, and how to provide genuinely constructive feedback (48). Otherwise, we'll continue to replicate its problems.
Table of Contents
- What is Peer Review?
- Opportunities and Challenges in Peer Review
- Bias and Power Structures in Peer Review
- Critically Examining Established Peer-Review Practices
- Innovations in Peer Review
- Librarians and Peer Review
- Developing Peer-Review Norms, Guidelines, and Expectations for LIS or Your Discipline
- Developing Your Peer-Review Practice
- About the Author
Ancillary MaterialSubmit ancillary resource
About the Book
This book is a self-paced, open access training in peer review. In eight modules it asks readers to engage in a variety of activities to learn the who, what, why, and how of peer review. It is geared to library professionals, library school students, or other academic professionals who must understand and/or engage with the peer-review process.
About the Contributors
Emily Ford is Associate Professor and Urban & Public Affairs Librarian at Portland State University. Her research uses narrative inquiry methods to understand peer review and she is an advocate for open peer review. In 2021 her book Stories of Open: Opening Peer Review through Narrative Inquiry was published by ACRL Press. In her spare time she is the proud human guardian of two cats and three fancy rats, volunteers at a local no-kill cat shelter, and runs tree-lined trails through forests near her home.