Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Best Blind Review Connections Can Buy

In his prefatory remarks in a creditably honest response to a rejection letter he received from a journal (my guess is that this is the Quarterly Journal of Speech), Josh Gunn (Communication, University of Texas, Austin), considered in graduate school gossip as a "rising star" in rhetorical studies, reveals the most open secret in the so-called "blind reviewing" of academic journal articles:

"Yesterday I received another rejection for a manuscript I've been working on for about three years now. Having submitted more articles for review than I can count, I must admit sometimes rejection is relatively easy, especially when the reviewer is curt and rejects my ideas out of hand. The rejections that continue to hurt are those that take the time to explain why my essay should be rejected in detail, but not to "help" me or teach me something. Rather, the rejections that hurt are those that say, in essence, you're an idiot, and here are four single-spaced pages why this is true. The editor, also a friend of mine, was very kind and humane: one reviewer recommended that the journal pursue the article, while the other, reject. Divided reviews are my lot, so this is nothing new. But I think the editor was concerned about the tone of the rejection, so she apparently she contacted a third scholar, who also urged rejection. The editor, bless her, offered a revise and resubmit with significant revisions, but I decided to send it elsewhere because I think the damn thing is good enough already, and I don't want to take advantage our friendship (I suspect she would have rejected someone she did not know with the same set of reviews)." (Posted on The Rosewater Chronicles Blog, June 29, 2005).


Blogger Bolibuckness said...

I'm not sure what you mean by a "blind review connection," but the open secret is not so much nepotism as it is a "clash of turfs" (never assume, by the way, that I use pronouns in gender specific ways; twernt QJS). That is, the editor felt bad because: (a) the essay was decent; and (b) the grounds of rejection reduced to an ideologically invested reading of Lacan. In other words, the editor could tell the rejection was not based on the quality of the argument or the clarity of my prose, but the need to police this or that proper reading of Lacan's early seminars (which I cotton to the most), rather than the later ones. In other words, the real problem with enduring blind review are editors who do not know whom to send your work to, and when they do know, the unexpected policing of turf that sometimes ensues. Revise and resubmit should be used more often, and us folks that play in theory-land need to stop beating each other up in reviews. In these days of online journals and what not, there's room for everyone--even folks who don't like your reading of Foucault.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Anawim said...

Point taken


1:38 AM  

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