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publishing: new irritations about late reviews

June 26th, 2010 by slewfoot

Music: Tendersticks: self-titled (1995)

Aside from the recent inability of my professional organization to keep reprint fees in check, the frustrations and irritations of publishing one’s academic work continue to mount. I’ve detailed the trials and tribulations of the blind review process ad nauseum on Rosechron, mostly as way to vent frustration, but also to give budding scholars a sense of what they’re in for—and also to offer encouragement. Just knowing that someone else has endured what you are enduring and that he or she thinks it sucks too, I hope, is helpful. If you try to publish, you will get rejected. In fact, odds are your manuscript at some point will be lost or forgotten (I’ve three good stories about this malady, in particular).

Folks frequently tease me about my publication record because I’ve been successful, but I try to remind them all those successes have come with setbacks, frustrations, and very bad (and sometimes unjust) reviews. I’ve been successful because I’ve been tenacious and can generally take criticism well at this point. I’ve also been successful because I’ve learned a lot from rejections and very kind, very generous reviewers who took the time to show me the ropes. Thank Goddess for the generous reviewers who have taken the time to outline what it takes to produce scholarship (something that, frankly, no grad program can really prepare you for; rejection is part of the learning process). Learning not to equate your worth as a scholar with any one essay you write is not easy, but you just gotta. Things get rejected. And sometimes not everything you put on paper—however long you’ve crafted it—is worth reading. I’ve got a huge file in my office to prove it. If you’re productive, you’re going to produce waste with the gold.

At this point in my scholarly career, however, I’ve moved “to the other side.” I now review far more essays for publication than I submit—on average, I’d say, anywhere from five to ten a year (and sadly, most of them I reject). From the perspective of a reviewer, I’ve learned a lot about the review process. At some point I hope to share what I’ve learned that would be helpful to authors (e.g., proofread), but for this post I want to underscore the most pressing problem of publication for my field of communication studies: timely reviews.

I think it’s fair to say, based on my experience in the past four years, that it takes on average two years to see an essay to publication. I am not, nor have ever been, an editor, but I’m willing to put all my chips on one color, and that color is that reviewers take too long to review. This is particularly problematic because of one simple fact: the tenure clock for most institutions has not changed for decades (five to six years). I don’t think, given current economic pressures, we’re going to be able to alter it. Newer generations of scholars are going to be pushed to publish more in less time. This is a real pickle for the humanities.

I currently review for seven journals, give or take a journal or two (for example, I’m a masthead reviewer for Rhetoric Review, and have not reviewed anything for Enos in over two years, while I am not on the masthead at CSMC, but have reviewed twice in the past semester). All of the editors of these journals ask for my review within six weeks (a few ask for four weeks). I have a handful of exceptions, but for the most part I get my reviews back within two or three weeks. In part, I hate having something to do looming over me—so I want to get it done (I’m very bad with deadlines—or very good—cause they drive me crazy). But part of the reason I hurry with my reviews is that I tend to review younger scholars—folks like me who are working on tenure, or just starting out.

Sadly, my attitude toward the reviewing timeframe is not shared by many. Of my last three publications, two were delayed for years because of no-show reviewers, or because reviewers refused to get their reviews back to editors in a timely manner.

Now, one would hope that editorial teams are scolding reviewers for their tardiness—but I am cynical. I know at least one editor—Marty Medhurst—runs a pretty tight ship and sits on reviewers for being tardy. But Marty is the only one I’m familiar with at the moment . . . .

Hence the exigency of this post. For some years I’ve been working on an admittedly “weird” essay that dabbles in interdisciplinarty, with a sprinkle of Derrida and cognitive brain research. It’s a strange beast of an essay, to be sure. The journal to which it was originally submitted took one whole year to review it. When I got the reviews back, it was a “revise and resubmit,” but then the editor stepped down and I knew if I sent it back I would basically be going through a whole new editorial team (that is, I knew any revisions would be moot, since the new team would want to send it to new reviewers). So, I pulled the essay, revised, and sent to a new journal almost fourteen weeks ago.

A few days ago I figured it was time to ask the journal “where we are in the process?” After all, as a reviewer I’m told six weeks is the maximum to take for a review, and I usually get my reviews into editors in three weeks or less. I sent this quick note:

Dear Mr.______:

The last week of March I submitted the essay “___________.” The essay has been in review for thirteen weeks, going on fourteen. I’m writing to ask about where we are in the process.

Sincerely,

Josh Gunn


I was both annoyed and amused by the response I received today by the editorial assistant. In part, I think the response is a “form” letter, but one can’t be sure:

Josh Gunn,

Considering the demands of peer review and the responsibilities of our reviewers, it is difficult to estimate a time frame. The editorial team, Dr. ______, the reviewers and I, try our best to expedite the process. Your manuscript is currently under review and we expect a response soon. You will be informed of the next steps when the manuscript returns from peer review.

Thank you for your correspondence. We look forward to the reviewer’s response. If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerley [sic],

Editorial Assistant

As we all know, it’s very difficult to discern tone in emails, and in messages like the above it’s very easy to project unintended meanings. This assistant is trying to nice, meeting me halfway, but clear to stop-short of an apologetic tone. Even so, I read the first sentence a number of times, and I confess I’m at a loss to discern what it means: “Considering the demands of peer review and the responsibilities of our reviewers, it is difficult to estimate a time frame.” Seriously: what does this mean?

Given the facts (14 weeks in review), I think the most straightforward interpretation is simply that the reviewers are late in reviewing the manuscript. I cannot imagine an editor telling reviewers, “you have five months to review this manuscript”—that would be absurd. So it stands to reason such a message tacitly acknowledges something. But, you know, what is that something?

Well, for one thing, the sentence asking me to “consider the demands of review” and the “responsibilities of our reviewers” positions me as someone who is not a reviewer, or who does not regularly review for scholarly publication. I often consider the demands of review—those demands are timeliness and not holding up some assistant professor who is trying to keep his or her job. I routinely decline invitations to review manuscripts when I know I cannot get the essay back in three or four weeks time. I’m also quite familiar with the responsibilities of reviewers: I have to balance service obligations at school, teaching, my own research, and domestic life stuff with my reviewing duties. The “image of thought” deployed in the first sentence is, of course, one of hierarchy; it presumes I do not understand what it is to be a scholar who reviews for journals on a regular basis.

I can easily forgive such assumptions. What I cannot forgive, and what irritates me to no end, is that other reviewers do not respect what I do: timeliness. We’re all effing busy. I can throw a rock in my department office and I’ll hit a person who is up to his or her eyeballs in “busy.” We need some sort of discipline-wide talking-to about the importance of fair and timely blind review. We need to educate folks that, if they agree to review an article, that agreement entails timeliness. If we cannot agree to be timely for each other, then as a field we’re shooting ourselves in the feet. If there’s one thing worse than rejection, it’s waiting a year for it.

21 Responses to “publishing: new irritations about late reviews

  1. dhawhee Says:

    HUZZAH, and amen. I reviewed a journal article in two days when I was 8 mos pregnant, and a revise and resubmit in one day (because I was asked for a tight turnaround) when I had a two-week old and was on maternity leave. (For the record, I do not think we ought to expect people to do such things; the editors making the requests acknowledged that they were asking a lot, which in turn motivated me to help out and get it done.)

    I just asked a reviewer to perform a blind review on an ENTIRE set of articles for a special issue. I asked this person for a three-week turnaround, and this person got it back to me–with really considered responses– in THREE DAYS.

    These and your own responsiveness are obviously exceptions, but honestly? They should be rules. I think four weeks (what RSQ asks) is not unreasonable–we should all be able to fit things in within that timeframe. Emphasis on plan. That’s the part that I think people ignore. What this means, in practice, is that if you receive a request, look at your calendar to see what’s coming up in the way of deadlines, conferences, teaching obligations, etc., and can’t see fitting in a review, then turn it down. I have done this only twice, and once it was because I had too many reviews to do that month, the other time it was because I was flat-out swamped.

    If journals continue to say 3 mos, then that’s what people will take, and I’m convinced that the more time people get the more likely they are to exceed that timeframe. There’s something about how assigned tasks stay in the brain. I haven’t conducted a study, but I would think that plenty of data are there for such a study on Manuscript Central alone.

    Perhaps reviewers don’t realize that MS Central tracks people’s time-to-review, and what this means is that editors are more likely to return to those who are prompt, and less likely to return to those who are lax. What this, in turn, means is that the responsible reviewers end up shouldering the burden for the rest of the field. You have been doing MORE than your share of reviewing. Not fair. But who can blame editors for coming back to you, if you get things in on time and provide lots of helpful and exacting feedback?

    Also, reviewers might be able to intuit this, but a few too many really late reviews and editors begin to think pretty poorly of those reviewers. Word can get around too, decreasing the likelihood that they will be asked to assume leadership positions. This might be fine for those folks, but I still think that people believe late reviewing is an invisible shame, when it’s not. Just hushed. And our field’s editors have discretion. But the lateness is still remembered and noted. (As br editor, I know the names of people who promised me things and never delivered without ever contacting me ever again. Now, I plan for this, but it’s still hard to forget.)

    Oh, Joshie, you have hit one of my sore points. Thanks for writing this.

  2. phaedra Says:

    good post, josh. i agree that editors need to provide timelines and reviewers need to stay in them.

    i reviewed 21 essays last year and one book ms (with a blurb for another). i was on 4 editorial boards & did 3 guest reviews for non-nca journals. i would be interested in stats on turnaround because my experience is that junior and associate faculty review more (perhaps being newer to the process and not as cynical yet, perhaps being closer to the demands of job markets & tenure, who knows?) and that much of editorial boards are big names for status, but not the best reviewers. i’m sure there are exceptions and, obviously, a handful of profs usually edit the journals. but, i do take the maximum time to review as a survival technique, usually. as soon as i send in a review, i usually get another from the same journal (except this spring, when people seem to have been kinder to me than debbie on my maternity leave–thankfully!).

    my question is: do you think a similar time frame should be required for the authors? i mean, if someone receives an R&R in 3 mos; shouldn’t she/he only have 3 mos to resubmit? i’m not sure if that slows down the process, but i know it can when it comes to graduate student work.

  3. Nels Says:

    As I just wrote over at Deb’s, I’ve never reviewed a journal article in my life, and I’m two years past tenure. Now, I’m practically a nobody in terms of publishing, but I’ve done some. It seems like the same people get asked to review constantly or never.

  4. John Lynch Says:

    I’m surprised by the amount of time it sometimes takes some people to review essays as well. When I have talked to some folks (a random sample of NCA types, rhetoric and non-rhetoric), I get a weird split. Some agree flat out with your position. Others resist 4 to 6 week deadlines, because they say they have to mull over the ideas in an essay. I understand the desire to think deep thoughts about communication, but 3 to 6 months to think deep thoughts about one essay that isn’t your own seems a bit excessive.

  5. David Says:

    Archival Science gives you a deadline for revise and resubmit; if you fail to meet that deadline, the article is considered withdrawn and must start the peer review process anew.

    You can appeal and the editors seem willing to collaborate, bt it seems to me a sign that in cognate fields, the responsibilities are tighter.

  6. David Says:

    That was in reply to Phaedra.

  7. David Says:

    PS: As I noted on FB, IEEE TPC, where I have also reviewed in the past, gives two weeks for reviewers’ decisions on manuscripts and starts badgering immediately. It’s a godsend, really. But that’s an engineering publication. Cognate fields take these responsibilities differently.

  8. Mary Says:

    Josh, I sympathize with the frustration of all authors, and know that the process is far from perfect.

    As someone who is currently editing (although I’ve filled my pages and the new editor is now taking new manuscripts), I have some random thoughts.

    I can say that this can be tricky on a lot of levels. I am one who sets up a major nagging effort–I have set up my MC site so that it sends emails progressively more often as reviews are later and later, in the hope that I will get a review just so the reviewer can be rid of me. Sometimes this works.

    If I really want the expertise of a specific person, though, and they keep saying, “I’ll have it done in a day or two,” I feel obligated to wait–I mean, people are busy and they do try, and sometimes even good reviewers get behind. And sometimes I get it back in a day or two. Other times…

    Some people take on more than they can do; some people have a poor sense of how long it takes them to do things; some requests for reviews hit at bad times–life events, grading, conferences, etc–people can get unexpectedly overwhelmed.

    If a review is going to be late, I do try to be in quick contact with the author to let her/ him know I haven’t forgotten the essay and am doing my best to get the review. But once the first reviewer is three weeks late, and I send it to another–who gets 4 to 5 weeks, that’s a lot of total time in review and no answer for the author. If I have to send an essay to another reviewer under those conditions, I do try to send it someone who tends to get back to me fast, and I do tell the author what’s happening, but the author still gets screwed. And I hate that.

    In my experience, authors are really very nice about this–they seem just happy that I let them know what’s up–and that makes it all the worse if I have to ultimately reject the essay, which sadly, is often the case.

    I have told two or three members of my ed board who consistently run late that they can either get faster or they won’t be on the board any more, but it’s more likely that I keep them on the board and don’t send them essays. But it takes time to figure out who these people are, and to learn to work around them, and when your term is 3 years, it’s often only at the very end that this is possible.

    I’d much rather have people tell me they can’t review for a while, or decline a review than to be late, but I think that’s something more senior people are more likely to do. People have told me that they are grateful for the chane to review or be on the ed board and they want to oblige me by agreeing and then get overwhelmed….

    It’s hard to know what to do in a brief term; if I had known when I started what I know now….

  9. dhawhee Says:

    Mary, what you’re doing is exactly what the field needs more of. Carolyn Miller does something similar, and I think it’s quite effective. The key part is that reviewers need to stay in touch about what’s going on with the piece so that editors can pass along that information (if asked) to the authors. I can only imagine how maddening it is to have reviewers go MIA, which I am sure they do. In any event, yes, it’s a tricky dance, and I think your comment lays out nicely the trick (or the dance?) from an editor’s perspective.

  10. dhawhee Says:

    Oh, and John Lynch: I share your suspicion of the argument that one needs to mull over an article. I highly doubt that someone is thinking about that article THAT much. And Phaedra: my god, woman. That’s a lot of reviewing. I’m glad you’re doing it on the one hand (the sake-of-the-field hand), but on the other, should you really be doing this much? I mean, really?

  11. slewfoot Says:

    Wow. Well, given the hit surge on the blog stats, and this on a Sunday, methinks Debbie’s was not the only button pushed by this topic. Thanks, everyone, for chiming and sharing your thoughts. There does seem to be consensus here: we need to educate our reviewer pool, past and present. Just to be proactive a bit: perhaps a 500 word essay designed for Spectra (when it reappears) would be a good idea? We would need to get our social science colleagues on board, but I do think this is a serious problem that affects our livelihoods. Rhetoric folks are a smart bunch, and I think if we put our brains together we might be able to craft something like a “guidelines for the blind reviewer” . . . aimed at (taking Debbie’s smart lead here) the new professor.

    Phaedra, a couple of points: first, 21 essays is way, way too much. A couple of years ago I reviewed as many one year and got some sage advice from a colleague. I’d give that colleague credit, except I don’t remember who it was, exactly. Anyhoo, they advised me to tell editors that I could review no more than two essays a year per journal, as I was untenured. So, I started telling editors this, and they were very, very cool about it. I also started saying “no” to ad-hoc reviews. If a journal is very close to my heart (such as Popular Music & Society), I will agree to do a review or two, but will decline any further requests. On a few occasions I’ve received a manuscript in the mail from Presidential Studies Quarterly with directions on how to review it, and I just threw it in the recycle bin (the expectation that I would just review it because it was sent to me is offensive). If I’ve reviewed twice for a journal and they send me a third manuscript under the same editor, I’ve started saying, “I’d be delighted to review a third manuscript for you, however, you will need to add me to the editorial board.” It’s a shrewd statement, but it works (that is, I stop getting manuscripts). It’s taken a couple of years for me to develop these “policies for self,” but since I’ve started putting them in place my reviewing duties have decreased to something more manageable (this past academic year, about ten, maybe less).

    Second: I don’t think that authors should be held to the same time frame as reviewers. Authoring is much more time consuming than reviewing (and it’s easier to review then write). Of course, I don’t think an author should get a year to revise either. I think the current tactic taken by some editors—the specification of a time frame for revisions—works best.

    John: yeah, no reviewer needs three months to “mull.” That’s bullshit. A reviewer is reviewing to decide if something is worthy of publication, not if it alters our reigning theories of relativity. Such a statement is premised on a long, outmoded model of scholarship (mastery). Such a model is no longer tenable in this academic environment. Publish smart. Publish helpful. But publishing the masterpiece, and reviewing as if someone is aiming for that, is at least a couple of decades “behind the times.” Oh, shit! I wrote an essay about this . . . .

    Mary, thanks so much for chiming here. You offer a helpful perspective, but let me also say what you do is rare in my experience. I know Lucaites does the email-badger with Manuscript Central too—and I think it’s helpful, but perhaps only for folks like me who are prone to guilt. Back-story: John asked me to review something that I was a “specialist” on, but I was flooded. So I declined to review. He followed up and said, “but you’re really the person I need for this one.” So I said it would take me more than two months, but he was ok with this (and I trust he told the author the wait would be a bit longer). Anyhoo, as I was going through those flooded months I kept getting notices from QJS: “review overdue!” It made me feel guilty, to be sure! My review to the author began with a long paragraph apology for the delay and an explanation (not something that reviewers do, typically, either).

    Let me add, though, I think most authors—including me—are very cool with delays if the editor or assistant is in touch, which it sounds like have done. For example, I had two unpleasant experiences with QJS prior to Lucaites taking over. The first essay took two years to get to print. The second, thirty weeks for review. Not one, not two, but three email queries and a terse note to the NCA research board director finally got a response from the editor. To paraphrase, there was no apology for the delay in review. Instead, it was: “well, the reviewers were divided on your piece. I’d encourage you to revise and resubmit this essay, but unfortunately my issues are full, so it’s a rejection.” Just as editors remember the slow reviewers, so do authors remember the deliberately ugly editors . . . .

    Ah-hem.

    I’m rather enamored with Debbie’s call on her blog to new scholars and professors. I think it would be great if we could come up with some sort of easy to read, friendly tips or guidelines for reviewing essays. Everyone knows grousing about the blind review process is part of our job’s mythos—it’s something we do to commiserate and identify with one another. At the same time, I’m wondering if we can do something proactive here? Do other fields have “guidelines” or some sort of way they educate the reviewer pool? I really think if we push hard to make four weeks the norm for a turn-around, we can collectively make something happen. Am I just naïve here? What do folks think?

  12. Mary Says:

    I’ve been most interested in this exchange.

    The nagging of reviewers is tricky too, because editors need the good will of smart people–too much nagging can lose you that good will in a hurry. And we need the perspective of the senior people as reviewers. I found that the more junior (or more inexperienced) the reviewer, the more likely it was that I’d get a recommendation to revise or publish. And in general, the less inexperienced, the less useful the comments were. There were, of course, exceptions. But while authors may be reluctant to risk editorial wrath, editors have to be careful to cultivate good relationships with reviewers too. I got around 150 submissions a year at SCJ–the NCA journals undoubtedly get even more–and that’s a lot of pressure on an ed board. I needed good relationships with reviewers, and I needed them badly.

    I’m pretty sure that your take on the antiquated nature of notions of mastery isn’t enitrely shared…I heard such notions defended quite clearly just a little while ago by another editor–who will be making editorial decisions for several years yet.

    To continue what feels like a bleak response to what I think is a great discussion, I don’t know that a Spectra piece on guidelines would help much; we’ve been talking about standards for reviews of conference papers for years–program planners are in the same boat as editors with less control over who reviews for them–I’ve still got people mad at me for decisions I made when I planned the PolComm program several years ago–and I can’t see that any changes have been made. It would seem to me that this would be a potential issue for the pub or research board?

  13. His Infernal Juiceness Says:

    Your point about good reviewerly relations is well-taken Mary. I guess I have no point of reference, since I work very hard not to jerk authors (and editors) around.

    It may be you and I are not on the same page about what “mastery” means here, but I don’t know. I think the perfect example of the drive to master is an Ed Black essay. Perfectly written, elegantly argued, carefully deployed. Prof. Black did not write many essays as a consequence. Such perfection produced some widely read masterpieces, but given the pace, I’m not sure if Black would have been promoted to full professorship at a couple of the institutions that I have worked.

    I have watched not one, not two, but three brilliant scholars lose their jobs because they did not publish enough; at least two of them were battled the Demons of Perfection, these monsters of mastery that keep a manuscript from ever getting into the mail (or uploaded on Manuscript Central).

    I would shudder to think reviewers and editors still operate on such a model. Now that I think on it, however, it’s clear I’ve had reviewers that won’t settle for anything less than Mastery of a given subject. I have tended to think these are “assassin reviewers” assigned by editors to kill a piece, since they reject everything. But I digress . . . .

  14. Mary Says:

    The editor I’m thinking of went on a tear about how research these days is substantially worse than it used to be. The argument was that this person could give any essay published in any journal to grad students, and have them examine it for intellectual and methodological rigor, and they would always come back with one question: “How did this thing ever get published?” I replied that certailny, research has changed a good bit in the last 30 years, and that I could ask the same question about much that was published earlier, but it was clear that to this person I was merely demonstrating my own lack of appropriate scholarly standards.

    It is undoubtedly true that editors see pieces they want to see killed; sometimes they got killed in SCJ, and sometimes they got (or will get) published. Because no matter what I wanted, the thing still went out for review–and sometimes reviewers i thought would kill a piece loved it, and sometimes reviewers i thought would smile upon an essay hated it.

    But reviewers also are repsonsible to the field (and we call it a “discipline” for a reason, I think). And a lot of times, I’ve seen essays submitted where the ground work wasn’t done–it’s those cases esepcailly where the perspective of a senior reviewer can be most helpful, pointign an author to literature they should know about. and it’s esay to think of those essays that didn’t cite the right lit as “sloppy,” for lacking “mastery.”

    The trick for an author is to demonstrate enough command of the area to assume authority and to make a significant contribution to an on-going conversation while still producing enough to get tenure or promotion or avoid post tenure review sanctions.

    No doubt, editors are not the only ones involved in a tricky dance.

  15. David Beard Says:

    Re: “I found that the more junior (or more inexperienced) the reviewer, the more likely it was that I’d get a recommendation to revise or publish. And in general, the less inexperienced, the less useful the comments were.”

    I could kiss the editor who emailed me, when I was just starting, to tell me that I should reconsider my “revise and resubmit” because, after all, the two pages of comments I had written for revision suggestions (in addition to marginal comments) amounted to a reconstruction of the essay from entirely different building blocks, not a revision. But I was eager to see the potential, not squash it, I thought. But, practicality and clear direction, it seemed to the editor, would have called that a rejection.

    I probably still err on that side, a little.

  16. Mary Says:

    David: I think it’s a willingness to see potential and sometimes an unwillingness to trust one’s judgment that leads junior folks to be more likely to accept. I tried to use junior people as much as I could–how else can they get experience?–but also tried to pair them with a senior person–not to kill the essay but because MC automatically sends both sets of reviews to reviewers and I think it’s helpful for the junior people to see reviews of the same piece they reviewed.

    I have to say, I never thought of asking a reviewer to revisit a decision (although I’d ask for clarification). I’ll add that to the “if I knew then” file…

  17. His Infernal Juiceness Says:

    All great points to ponder, y’all.

    The more one reviews, the less likely s/he is to advance a “revise and resubmit.” Why? Because one starts to learn how to distinguish between potential and the ability of an author to rise to that potential in the revision process.

    My decision rule for R&Rs is simply to ask myself a question: could I endure reading and commenting on this essay/argument again? Often the answer is “no.” Sometimes—and these are happy sometimes—I say “yes.”

  18. Paul Johnson Says:

    A question for those of you who do review often: do you generally need to spend a few days with an essay to really figure it out, or do you basically “know it when you see it”? In my admittedly limited experience reviewing for NCA conference divisions (and my considerably greater experience judging competitive intercollegiate debates) I almost always have a good sense pretty quickly after skimming the proceedings about whether or not the proposal will be accepted. But I am not sure if this “the quick and the dead” motif is irresponsible or just properly practical.

  19. Jason Says:

    An excellent discussion. I can’t say that I have had the privilege of reviewing for a lot of journals, but have had done a few and generally gotten good feedback from the editor on the thorough nature of my reviews. However, my rule of thumb has always been to have the review back in four weeks. I just feel like I need to get it there.

    I think that one thing that isn’t being addressed here is the pool of reviewers. Who gets chosen and how one gets chosen to be a reviewer? In the journals that I have reviewed for I have been asked to do so because I have published with that particular journal or I know the editor who knows my work. One journal has asked me to review several times, although I haven’t asked to be on the editorial board yet (not sure about the protocols). I do think that there are a lot of smart, junior faculty out there in rhetoric land who could review, but haven’t been asked by editors for a variety of reasons (publication record, research expertise not matching up, etc). I am wondering if there is anyway that we can spread the word, without putting out a larger call, for expanding the reviewer pool and then putting down more concrete time frames as to when reviews are do. Not sure what the protocols would be, but I know several smart friends who could review, but have never best asked to for various reasons or who haven’t expanded into some of the more major journals.

  20. E Says:

    Great conversation! In the hope of becoming a helpful and prompt reviewer, I am taking notes (incidentally while reviewing a journal submission).

    This Fish article on teaching evaluations and the pedagogy of confusion relates more to other RWC topics than this particular thread, but I thought you might find it useful.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/21/deep-in-the-heart-of-texas/

  21. Mary Says:

    Paul:I think the really bad ones and the really good ones stand out and do so quickly. The ones with unrealized potential are the ones that require the most time–it’s harder to decide how much revision is required, whether the author can reasonably do the revising; etc.

    Jason: I had my fabulous assistant Sam perry do most of the choosing after a while; we generally asked my ed board first; sometimes they would suggest other people if they couldn’t review; or if we didn’t want to ask them–if, someone had just finished a review or had one in progress,we might email and ask for suggestions; MC allows a key word search as well, so we coudl sometimes find an appropriate person that way. But I confess, it’s a pretty random process, and smart junior people are hard to locate unless someone brings them to my attention–or to Sam’s.

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