Monday, October 15, 2007

Peer Review Process

Last week I promised some more information on the peer review process and here it is. This is what UT Press does, I'd imagine other publishers are pretty similar.

The reviewer has 4 possible recommendations. There is:
1) I strongly recommend publication
2) I recommend publication. I offer some suggestions for revision, but the author's adoption of these should be left to the discretion of the press.
3) I recommend the press proceed with consideration of the manuscript if the revisions suggested in the attached report are made.
4) I do not recommend publication.

My buddy who has been published thru UT a few times said that usually the first report comes back marked #3, very rarely is it marked #2. My first review came back marked #3. Those changes were made and the same reviewer read it again and marked it #2. That second version was also sent to a second reviewer and he marked it #2.

UT also sends out a list of questions the reviewer should think about as they read the manuscript. I'm not going to retype the list as its pretty lengthy but it mostly deals with things like; is the scholarship sound, does the manuscript make any significant contribution to its field, how does it fit in with other books in its field, could the organization of the book be improved, are there any stylistic revisions needed and finally what other suggestions for revision are there? The UT editor also includes a cover letter in which he highlights the changes he thinks are most needed.

In my case it is kinda interesting that some of the things the first reviewer wanted added (and I did add) the second reviewer wanted removed. For instance the nature of my book meant that there was not a large bibliography and it was suggested that I add some of the major secondary books on the battle so that readers would have an idea of where to go to learn more about the battle. The second reviewer did not like this idea believing the bibliography should only reflect books that were cited in the book. I see his point (in fact that is how I had originally done it) but that meant that no modern treatment of the battle appeared in the bibliography. Perhaps this could be solved with a section titled "For Further Reading."


Sam Elliott said...

Nick, I think UT's use of two readers is atypical, a lot of university presses only use one. It is interesting to see how they might reconcile conflicting recommendations.

Nick said...

I was told UT uses 2 because once they sent a book to Bearss for a dust jacket recommendation and instead he returned it with all sorts of notations about how wrong the book was. They nearly got burned so now they use 2.