Mellow musings on peer review

🕑 8 min • 👤 Thomas Graf • 📆 June 07, 2021 in Discussions • 🏷 publishing, journals, peer review

My last post (yes, ages ago) reflected on two issues that come up quite a bit on Martin Haspelmath’s blog, and in both cases I did not really agree with his conclusions. But there is a third issue he mentions a lot: peer review, be it for conferences, journals, or grants. Haspelmath has an impressive number of posts on the topic. The tldr is that reviews are a waste of time for reviewers, do not improve the final paper or proposal (e.g. because authors have to tack on extraneous stuff to please reviewers), and incentivize flashy presentation over substance. Moreover, reviewers are frequently forced into the role of gatekeepers who have to defend the fair maidens of Publisher Island and Conference Valley from the ravaging hordes of sub-par submissions. I do not want to directly argue for or against these points, I’m sure the prestigious outdex readership can make up its own mind. But I will say that my own experience has been a lot more positive, largely because of the field I’m in. So the following are some reflections on what I think mathematical linguistics as a field gets right with peer review (and there’s also a tiny bit about how it can sometimes go wrong).

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