Origins of Courteous Review

Stephen Jaeger shares a letter from 2010 in which he asked the Medieval Academy of America (MAA) to reconsider the reviewing practices of its scholarly publication, Speculum. Addressed to the Executive Committee of the MAA, the letter describes some of Prof. Jaeger’s experiences with anonymous peer review in Speculum, and encourages the adoption of a more open process of evaluation, such as the ones modeled by the editors of Shakespeare Quarterly and postmedieval—bM

August 24th, 2010

Dear Colleagues,
I’m sending a copy of an article on the front page of today’s New York Times on new alternatives to peer review. I would urge the leadership of the academy and the editor and board of Speculum to take its message seriously and consider a change in its current policy of anonymous peer review.

My long and largely unhappy experience with peer review in Speculum has set my own policy: never to review anonymously, but always to sign. It makes reviews more objective and more courteous. Of course, that’s what it means to attach your name to your work: I stand behind it and am willing to state my opinion publicly.

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Walking a Fine Line

This invited contribution to the theme of Publication comes from Mary S. Laskowski, who is Head of Collection Management Services at the University Library. In response to an earlier post on the IPRH blog about e-reserves and fair use, Mary shares a librarian’s perspective.  —bM

The University Library at the University of Illinois, as with all academic research libraries, walks a fine line between meeting the needs of patrons and satisfying all pertinent legal and contractual obligations. As noted in the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association,

“We respect intellectual property rights and advocate balance between the interests of information users and rightsholders.”

The e-reserve service, designed to provide electronic access to relevant course readings at the request of the faculty, faces that challenge on a daily basis.

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What’s Public Belongs to Google

GoogleCarsOn March 31st, Google asked the Supreme Court to consider legal the company’s interception of unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic.

As part of Google’s Street View program which offers panoramic street-level photographs, vehicles are equipped with cameras and other recording devices, and sent out to neighborhoods around the world.

Kevin Poulsen of Wired Magazine reports,

The company’s fleet of photo-snapping cars is equipped with Wi-Fi hardware to record the names and MAC addresses of nearby routers to improve Google geolocation services. From 2008-2010, those vehicles were also capturing tiny snippets of internet traffic from countless thousands of routers that weren’t employing encryption, turning every Street View vehicle into a rolling spy machine.

Subsequent investigation found that the electronic eavesdropping was part of an engineer’s 20-percent-time project.

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Full-Body Search

Preparing the "All Canadian Atlas" in Ottawa (1959).digital-strip-search-widedigital_search

Top: Preparing the All Canadian Atlas in Ottawa. From Hector Lemieux’s 1959 documentary, Portrait of Canada.
Middle: Digital strip searches in 2009.
Bottom: Sorting digital media in 2013.

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Publishing from Prison

In an invited two-part series on Publication, Terrence Sampson describes the practices of publishing as constrained by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Terrence has been incarcerated since the age of 12, and currently writes from Ramsey Unit in Rosharon, Texas. He holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and encourages young detainees to use writing as a mode of self-expression.  —bM

Process of Publishing in the Texas Prison System 


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Biblio-SelfieIn an earlier post, Maria Bonn mentioned #SixWordPeerReview, a hashtag under which people have come together to trade summaries and parodies of readers’ reports in six words.

Although most of the tweets are oriented around scholarship in the sciences, one example that resonates across the disciplines is the illustrated “Your bibliography is a giant selfie.”

This installment of Peer Review, Revealed on the IPRH blog acknowledges #SixWordPeerReview. The following six-word contribution is excerpted from a published review of a book in the humanities.

QMark     Is this scholarship or something else?


cringe-revAs part of an exploration of peer review, the IPRH blog is highlighting the best and worst moments from your readers’ reports and book reviews.

Send your most entertaining reviews for Peer Review, Revealed to Bonnie Mak (bmak at illinois dot edu).

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Scholarly Associations and their Publishers

Over on The Chronicle, Jennifer Howard discusses the ongoing dispute between the Social Science History Association and Duke University Press which has published the association’s journal, Social Science History, since the 1980s.

Manchester Magicians

When the Social Science History Association informed Duke UP in 2012 that it wanted to terminate their publishing agreement, the Press refused. The association sued on the grounds of copyright infringement; meanwhile, Duke UP launched a dispute as the association filed to trademark its own name and the name of its journal.

broken glassThis contest brings to the fore some of the issues broached by Paula Kaufman’s post on the IPRH blog earlier this year, and Chris Prom’s comment about scholarly associations and the agreements that they strike for the publication of their journals. Such publishing agreements can be lucrative for small, non-profit academic associations that are seeking out alternative sources of income in the face of diminishing support from membership fees.

But at what cost?

The IPRH blog welcomes your thoughts and comments.

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Printing Labors


Left: Tibetan printer at Derge Parkhang, Ganze Autonomous Prefecture, China.
Right: Processes of book production. Engraving a wooden block and counting pages.

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Adding Insult to Desk Rejection


As part of an exploration of peer review, the IPRH blog is highlighting the best and worst excerpts from your readers’ reports and book reviews!

 A journal editor writes:

QMarkThank you for submitting your paper. We have decided that we will not be able to send it for review.

Further, when you submit this paper to another journal, you may wish to consider breaking the narrative into sections to help guide the reader.EndQuote


The IPRH blog needs your help!

Send your most entertaining reviews for Peer Review, Revealed! to Bonnie Mak (bmak at illinois dot edu).

Shorter than 140 characters? Tweet it, @IPRH_UIUC!

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Publicizing Public Harassment


Stop Telling Women to Smile is a public art series that addresses gender-based street harassment. Created by the Brooklyn-based artist, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, portraits of women who have told their stories of harassment are posted on outdoor walls as a way to speak directly to offenders.

On her Kickstarter page, Fazlalizadeh writes, “I started this project as a way to explore social activism through public art. I wanted to express myself and address the type of harassment that I was personally experiencing in Philadelphia and Brooklyn. As a portrait artist I wanted to use the images of women, personal friends and colleagues of mine, to humanize women in the public spaces–giving faces and voices to the bodies that are sexualized on the street.”


Read interviews with Fazlalizadeh on The Daily Beast, and on The Telegraph.

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