AIA-5K: Peer Review: Present Tensions, Future Directions (Joint AIA/SCS Workshop)

  In-Person   AIA Session   Workshop


Sam Huskey, University of Oklahoma; Jennifer Sacher, American School of Classical Studies at Athens; and Colin Whiting, Dumbarton Oaks


Ellen Bauerle, University of Michigan Press; Emma Blake, University of Arizona and American Journal of Archaeology; Sam Huskey, University of Oklahoma; Sarah Murray, University of Toronto and Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, Sarah Nooter, University of Chicago and Classical Philology; Jennifer Sacher, ASCSA and Hesperia, Colin Whiting, Dumbarton Oaks and Dumbarton Oaks Papers, and Lin Foxhall, University of Liverpool and Journal of Hellenic Studies


We all know what the peer-review process generally consists of: two or three anonymous scholars evaluate an anonymous new book or article manuscript and offer feedback to help the author develop their work and help the publisher decide if the work merits publication. Does this system work? What can we imagine in its place?

For many authors who are under the pressure to “publish or perish,” peer review is seen as an obligation that must be cleared as quickly as possible rather than a chance at significantly reworking and improving a manuscript. Rather than a dialogue or process, peer review is seen as a challenge or trial. Nor are all reviews created equal. Some reviewers may offer copious amounts of advice and citations, while others may be so terse as to be meaningless; some may offer insights that could only come from reading a manuscript with fresh eyes, while others suggest additions of only tangential relevance or provide a list of typos. “Reviewer 2” is a running joke among academics, but for many scholars, an overly harsh, abusive, or biased review is no laughing matter. What can authors and editors do with these reviews? How can we encourage more constructive reviewing practices?

Reviewers, too, are also facing increasing demands on their time, and performing peer review is generally not considered for hiring, tenure, or promotion. As the pressure to publish increases, so do the number of submissions in need of peer review, but many peer reviewers have observed that the recent increase in the number of submissions is not matched by an increase in the overall quality of submissions. No one wants to spend time reviewing a manuscript that is clearly not up to snuff, yet reviewers are increasingly asked to do so. How can authors better prepare before submission to weather this existing model of review?

The anonymity of the system is often more of an ideal than a reality, too, particularly in smaller subfields. What do we do when anonymity is not achievable for authors or for reviewers?

Even the very nature of the works under review is changing. New forms of scholarly work are emerging online, largely outside the realm of traditional academic publishing and thus traditional forms of peer review.

Though the current system has its flaws, it can be difficult to imagine something different—yet the current system only emerged in the 1940s. What might the future of peer review look like, for traditional and nontraditional publications? What would a world without peer review look like?

Panelists at this workshop include editors and scholars. Before an open-ended discussion, each will first deliver a brief set of remarks, covering what they expect when they ask for a peer review or when they sit down to write a peer review; what they consider to be the biggest problems in the current peer-review model; and where they see the state of peer review in the near future.