The frustrations and delights of peer-review.

About a week ago, the editor of the journal Discourse Studies told me that a paper which I submitted has been favorably reviewed and that it will be published after I re-work my paper according to what the anonymous reviewer has suggested. In itself, that already is great news! It was even more wonderful for two reasons:

  1. I had submitted a paper that was practically identical to this one to another journal quite a while ago. The paper was based on a study that I did for a class on conversation analysis offered by Douglas Maynard during my graduate year in Bloomington. I mentioned this in my letter to the editor of the journal, and I also mentioned that because of this and because of privacy issues, I did not have easy access to the videos that are analyzed in the paper. I wanted to tell this, because I think that this kind stuff should be said and that honesty in science would be rewarded. However, the opposite was the case and the first point of criticism was that the paper is closer in form to a term paper instead of a journal article. It was not even forwarded to an anonymous reviewer. When I got this reply, I was so frustrated that I tried to push this paper into the lowest recesses of my existence. Which did not work, unsurprisingly. In the course of time, frustration turned into resolve and I decided to resubmit the paper (adding a few good references that I found in the meantime) without mentioning that it is based on a student paper and that I do not have direct access to the videos anymore. (The latter being the second and a more important reason for rejecting the paper. But if a reviewer would have stated that something is missing and that I should re-examine the video data, then I would done so, of course.) I guess this is a lesson about gate-keeping in peer-review and about how even well-meaning people might not approach something neutrally if they have negative preconceptions about its origins…
  2. Because of the frustration that was generated after this rejection, I had very little trust in the whole peer-reviewed journal business. Therefore it was a pleasant surprise for me to read the review for my paper: it took my propositions seriously and then found parts of the paper that did not live up to the analysis that I develop in the rest of the paper. Thus it encouraged me to strengthen my argument – instead of watering it down by requesting to add another perspective or authors X and Y. This has definitely contributed in re-building my trust in the scientific review process. Thanks a lot for that to the editor and to my anonymous reviewer.

Since the post-peer-review paper overhaul is done and has been accepted, the paper will be available early next year under the title Space, Materiality, and the Contingency of Action in Discourse Studies 11(2). Since SAGE’s copyright agreement allows for an online publication one year after the print version has seen the light of day, I will be able to put the full paper online at this site in 2010.

Finally, I want to thank Charles Antaki, who read the old student paper that I put online several years ago and who encouraged me to re-work and publish it. Without this support, I would probably not have been courageous enough to try to get this paper published at all. In addition, I want to thank Elizabeth Nelson, a class-mate from Bloomington, who corrected and polished my English before I submitted the paper for the first time.

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One Response to “The frustrations and delights of peer-review.”

  1. ozean says:

    You can check out the published article here: DOI 10.1177/1461445609102445.>

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