Peer Reviews and Intellectual Integrity

One of the things I’ve had to come to terms with during the doctoral program is accepting the real and sometimes-harsh value of the the peer review process. That process requires the author to openly subject himself or herself to the critiques of peers, hopefully before publication and widespread embarrassment.

On the other side, being a peer reviewer requires that you be place real or potential personal friendships and professional relationships aside to be able to say things you might never want to say face to face. For example, gems such as

  • ‘you just didn’t get it regarding…’; or
  • ‘the new area of research has been well covered in the existing literature, and I don’t see anything new in the paper…’; or
  • ‘when referring the a government agency using the ‘p’ word, make sure you include in it the middle ‘l’.

I’ve come to learn and respect the value of the peer review process, which might be boiled down to the following: It’s better to have trusted friends and peers pick your work apart rather than strangers who care not one wit about you or your research.

Authors and peer reviewers should have the same guiding goal in mind: Intellectual integrity is what we strive for in our work. Identifying gaps in our own work, and gaps in work we are asked to peer review is not a failure, but an opportunity to better achieve the greater goal and good.

jlk

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