Thinking about Peer Review

As we delve into the peer review assignment, the pressure of the rapidly progressing semester and impending due dates is palpable. Deciding what article to review and how to do it in a relevant way is where I have been trying to focus my research energy but in doing so I was compelled to peruse a blog by an author who is highly critical of the peer review process.

Kaitlyn, I agree that sharing ideas in person has an entirely different and potentially more profound effect than a blog, but I wanted to direct you all to a blog maintained by the director of Scholarly Communications at the Modern Language Association, Planned Obsolescence, that offers critical engagement with scholarly communication.

Have any of you read Kathleen Fitzpatrick? In addition to her position at the MLA she is also a professor of Media Studies and her writing and research interests focus on the technological changes that are vital to academic publishing. One of these suggested changes is the promotion of collaboration in research rather than individual efforts, often with the aid and use of digital networking tools such as blogs.

Planned Obsolescence is also the title of a book she published with NYU Press in 2011 and, like her blog, is an insightful analysis of issues surrounding scholarly communication and the merits of digital networking as a system for collaboration. She argues that these “digital networks, as structures that facilitate interaction, communication, and interconnection, will require us to think differently about what it is we’re doing as we write.” (2011, xi) In fact, Planned Obsolescence was openly peer reviewed at MediaCommons Press. in fall 2009 and is currently available online for open discussion.

Fitzpatrick is highly critical of the traditional peer review process, and while Luker (2008) touches upon the contentious issues related to this process, Fitzpatrick calls for a complete overhaul. In a October 2010 blog post, “Peer-to-Peer Review and Its Aporias” she offers an insightful critique of the peer review system and the current state of scholarly publication. She proposes “the point of opening up peer review is precisely to remove it from the black box, to foreground the review process as a discussion amongst peers rather than an act of abstracted anonymous judgment.” (Fitzpatck, 2010)

Both the blog and book are highly relatable to issues that we have talked about in INF1240. If you have any time or maybe once the semester is complete, I highly recommend taking a look at her work.

Thanks guys!

–        Vanessa

Fitzpatrick, K. (2010, October 25). Peer-to-Peer Review and Its Aporias [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Fitzpatrick, K. (2011). Planned obsolescence : Publishing, technology, and the future of the academy. New York: New York University Press.

One thought on “Thinking about Peer Review

  1. This blog is fantastic. Both FItzpatrick and O’Malley (the other author mentioned in the linked article) have articulated a number of my muddled concerns regarding peer-to-peer review with pinpoint accuracy. I’ll be following up in a blog post after I get kicked out of the Inforum.

    Yours in research,

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