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'If you can't be kind, be scholarly': constructive peer reviewing (LILAC 2016)

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This workshop offers an introduction to the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of peer reviewing, suitable for both current and aspiring reviewers. It may also be useful for writers of academic articles. It explores what peer review is and how it serves scholarship; looks at an example of a peer review form; considers how to read an article critically and analytically; and suggests how to give constructive, courteous and workable feedback that will enhance the final article.

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'If you can't be kind, be scholarly': constructive peer reviewing (LILAC 2016)

  1. 1. If you can’t be kind, be scholarly Constructive peer reviewing EMMA COONAN JOURNAL OF INFORMATION LITERACY GrouphugbyJorisLouwes,CCBY2.0
  2. 2. Aims • Explore what peer review is and what it’s for • Demystify what it involves • Foster constructive reviewers and critical friends to scholarship
  3. 3. What is peer review anyway?
  4. 4. Discussion 1. What is peer review? 2. What’s it for? 3. What does it not do?
  5. 5. Discussion 1. What is peer review?
  6. 6. Discussion 1. What is peer review? Appraisal of reported research by expert in the field May be ‘double blind’ – author’s name is not revealed May be 2 or more reviewers
  7. 7. Discussion 2. What’s it for?
  8. 8. Discussion 2. What’s it for? Verification of reported results as far as possible Guide the editor in a decision on whether to publish Help authors make the best possible presentation of their research to their community of practice
  9. 9. The $64,000 question “What’s needed to bring this up to publishable standard?” The point is not to eliminate but to include
  10. 10. Discussion 3. What does it not do?
  11. 11. Discussion 3. What does it not do? Proofread Replicate results Guarantee truth
  12. 12. What does it involve?
  13. 13. What to look for • Research informed and evidence based • Designed around an arguable research question • Contextualised with reference to previous and current advances in IL thinking • Methodologically robust with a demonstrable research design • Investigation not description
  14. 14. Guess the headings (there are 6!)
  15. 15. Guess the headings • Relevance to JIL • Originality and interest to audience • Title and abstract • Methodology • Use of literature and referencing • Clarity of expression and structure
  16. 16. Outcomes for each criterion • Appropriate • Needs amendment • Needs major rewriting or adjustment
  17. 17. Overall recommendation • Accept for publication without amendment • Revisions required • Major revisions required followed by peer review • Decline submission
  18. 18. How to look • Critically and analytically - not descriptively / not at sentence level • Test for weakness in argument and structure - use the what/why/how framework • Detached mindset - evaluate integrity of argument, not how far it matches your own view of IL • Don’t just review what you see - what is the author not saying? What literature hasn’t been cited?
  19. 19. Reviewer’s toolkit
  20. 20. Reviewer’s toolkit • JIL’s 4 bullet points
  21. 21. Reviewer’s toolkit • JIL’s 4 bullet points Question-led, evidence-based investigation
  22. 22. Reviewer’s toolkit • JIL’s 4 bullet points Question-led, evidence-based investigation • The $64,000 question
  23. 23. Reviewer’s toolkit • JIL’s 4 bullet points Question-led, evidence-based investigation • The $64,000 question “What’s needed to bring this up to publishable standard?”
  24. 24. Reviewer’s toolkit • JIL’s 4 bullet points Question-led, evidence-based investigation • The $64,000 question “What’s needed to bring this up to publishable standard?” • Strategic reading techniques
  25. 25. Reviewer’s toolkit • JIL’s 4 bullet points Question-led, evidence-based investigation • The $64,000 question “What’s needed to bring this up to publishable standard?” • Strategic reading techniques Including reverse outlining
  26. 26. Reviewer’s toolkit • JIL’s 4 bullet points Question-led, evidence-based investigation • The $64,000 question “What’s needed to bring this up to publishable standard?” • Strategic reading techniques Including reverse outlining • What/why/how
  27. 27. What/why/how • What is the research? What questions does it address? What contribution does it make? • Why has it been done? Why does it matter? What will it change? • How has it been done? What’s the method? How does it frame the findings? How has it helped the researcher mitigate bias?
  28. 28. Being constructively critical
  29. 29. “I would like to thank you again for all the constructive and benevolent effort that you and your reviewers put into this review and for the graciousness with which you did it. “I have been through several submission processes that have been quite impersonal and where the critical feedback has been either on the verge of cruelty or entirely neglectful. You and your reviewers stand apart …”
  30. 30. Discussion How can we be helpful and humane?
  31. 31. On being helpful and humane • Check your privilege - unequal power relationship • You don’t have to agree, just to check if the position is adequately grounded and defended
  32. 32. On being helpful and humane • Use what’s well done as a yardstick • “What I think would make this even better is …”
  33. 33. On being helpful and humane • “Show your workings” (be evidence-based!) • Give practical and workable suggestions for how to implement your amendments
  34. 34. 1. “This article is riddled with assumptions.” 2. “The writing is often arrestingly pedestrian.” 3. “It is clear that the author has read way too much and understood way too little.” 4. “Something is missing.” 5. “Not only does this strike me as the worst kind of postmodern legerdemain, but if true the statement would transform ethics into a hopelessly muddled enterprise.” From http://shitmyreviewerssay.tumblr.com/
  35. 35. Further reading Explorations of Style (2011) Reverse outlines Journal of Information Literacy, JIL author guidelines Lowell, Seri (2002) Helpful hints for effective peer reviewing Raff, Jennifer (2013) How to become good at peer review Schneiderhan, Erik (2013) Why you gotta be so mean?
  36. 36. Emma Coonan, Editor-in-Chief Journal of Information Literacy e.coonan@uea.ac.uk Twitter: LibGoddess

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