Annals of Peer Review

Stuart Elden linked a couple of day ago to this discussion about peer review. Obviously as long time editor of journals, I am going to think it a duty for people to do their part and review articles. I do quite a few each year and I try to turn down only those articles that I clearly should not have been sent. Stuart writes:

I read this with disappointment and a feeling that it was asking the wrong questions. As an editor, the only time I feel ‘guilty’ about asking someone to review for us is if they are retired or a non-academic. As far as I’m concerned, any academic, at whatever stage of their career, should be willing to review for journals. And they should do this without any kind of need for recognition, reward, payment, credentials, etc. It’s a shared system where their work generates the need for reviewers; and they review in turn. It’s not generosity: if the system changes, someone will ‘pay’, and that someone will ultimately be the author. Unless authors and reviewers are separate groups of people, which of course they currently are not, this is self-defeating.

I agree with Stuart on this. Maybe because I’ve also organized conference panels and such where I was asking people not just to write a paper but travel to various places, I feel no guilt whatsoever asking someone for peer review. And at RPR and before that at Philosophia Africana, we were pretty lucky at getting good reviewers for articles, and if certain well known figures can find the time, I think the rest of us can. As for service, I know that most people I know keep a line on their CV naming the journals and/or book publishers they’ve reviewed manuscripts for. I know in reviewing colleagues, this helped me to get a better guess that they were considered experts in their area of philosophy and thus were called upon to review articles. Thus, there is somewhat of an incentive, beyond the golden rule, to doing them.