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Friday, 24 February 2012

Peer Review - Peer Acceptance & Peer Rejection

More from the Archive ...

I always kept Rejection letters from book publishers and from editors of academic journals, the latter usually enclosing the solicited opinions of peer reviewers.

There are an awful lot of them coming out of the boxes I am currently sorting - and now they are going off to recycling. Well, most of them.

I guess someone has made a study of what people say in Peer Reviews; I always felt that these anonymous critiques often told you more about the reviewer than the work reviewed. They were sometimes entertaining - especially when the reviewer knew your name as author of the work submitted but also knew that their own name would not be disclosed back to you.

Here are a couple of peer reviews of my essay "Lifelong Unlearning" which you can now find on my website It was submitted to the British Journal of Educational Studies back in 2001 and the casting editorial vote, following receipt of the two peer reviews, was not to publish the essay.

I don't find either review obviously unfair or hurtful (one reason I have selected them and not others about which I felt more strongly at the time), but I think they both illustrate ways in which peer reviewing - often held up nowadays as a bastion against the horrors of the Internet - can be a fairly subjective, conversational activity. It's not as hard-edged as outsiders may sometimes imagine. One of the reviewers of my essay quite liked it and the other quite disliked it. On another day, I could have had two Likes or two Dislikes. That's academic life.

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