Lucy Gilson on the Reviewing Experience

[We’re pleased to welcome Lucy Gilson of the University of Connecticut. Dr. Gilson is currently serving as a Senior Associate Editor of Group and Organization Management.]

Much has been written about what should, and should not, be included in a rejected-865417-mreview.  Therefore, I would like to shift the conversation in this blog post to discuss an important topic that I often think get missed in reviewing – that reviewing should be all about the conversation.

Over the years, I have written and been on the receiving end of many reviews. Now that I’m in an editorial role, I am seeing reviews through a different lens yet again. When I think of this experience holistically, I am concerned about the nature of the conversation we are engaging in as educational professionals and scholars. It seems to me that all too often reviews are adversarial in nature. It becomes the reviewer’s opportunity to say everything that is wrong with a paper and pick it apart line by line. Recently I even heard an Editor say, “My role is to accept papers as the reviewers reject everything.”

Now, I am not saying we should be lenient or too easy, not point out flaws in a manuscript, or sugarcoat our reviews. What I am saying, however, is it’s time to start thinking about reviewing as engaging in a conversation with the author(s). As a conversation, reviewing means sitting down with a manuscript and thinking about the experience as one in which a friend or colleague has just entrusted into your care a valuable piece of themselves. A piece of work that they have invested hours in crafting, thinking about, developing, and writing. They know it has flaws – all works have flaws – but they are looking to you, an expert, for guidance and direction. Your responsibility is to engage with them in their work. What did you learn about the work? What have they done well (not the cursory, I enjoyed reading this manuscript, now let me spend two single spaced pages ripping it apart)? Where can you help them extend their thinking? What was lacking? How can these flaws be overcome? What questions did the manuscript raise in your thinking? A conversation does not mean recommending that every paper be accepted or even that the editor requests a revision, it means engaging with the author in their work. Let us as a profession start thinking of the review as a two way conversation with the focus on “talking with” the author rather than at them.

You can click here to read detailed guidelines for reviewers on the Group and Organization Management home page. Like what you read? You can get all the latest research from  Group and Organization Management sent directly to your inbox! Just click here to sign up for e-alerts!

This entry was posted in Communication, Engagement, Peer Review, Publishing, Relationships, Research and Publishing, Scholarship and tagged , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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