November 26, 2007

How to be a Referee

no ... not a football referee, but a referee for peer-reviewed journals, and in this case, journals in the field of library & information science.

My e-buddy Phil Edwards has written a nice piece in the November 2007 issue of College & Research Libraries News offering tips on how to be a good reviewer. In Developing as a writer: Refereeing manuscripts for peer-reviewed LIS journals, Phil suggests ways to become a referee, and includes his two handy criteria for accepting requests to be a peer-reviewer:
  • I already know something about the topic of the article or the method of investigation.
  • I read the journal regularly and have a feel for what a typical article looks like in that publication.
And while the title implies that reviewing is good for writers, I think that Phil's suggestions are handy for those of us who are grading as well. For instance, one of his ideas is to be specific in your comments, and he offers a good example:
"...[A] comment such as 'The introduction is unclear' might be less helpful for authorial revisions than a comment like 'In the introduction, the author mentions the relationship between issues X and Y. Throughout the article, X appears often, while Y does not appear until the conclusion. The author should either consider reinforcing this proposed relationship throughout the narrative or focus the discussion on issue X exclusively.' "
His other suggestions are useful as well, and he lists some handy resources for further consultation on the topic.

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