Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Peer reviewers v. blog commenters

Here's something from the Chronicle that grabbed my attention: the title is "Blog Comments and Peer Review Go Head to Head to See Which Makes a Book Better." Wha? There's a professor of communications from (of course) California who is publishing a book with MIT Press (title Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies). He also writes a blog called "Grand Text Auto" with 5 colleagues, and the blog is read by many of the same scholars he sees at academic conferences. He is going to post sections of his book on the blog and invite readers to add critiques right in the margins. He expects the blog-based review to be more helpful than the traditional peer review because of the variety of voices contributing. His editor at MIT Press insisted on running the manuscript through the traditional peer-review process as well. So the "experiment" will provide a side-by-side comparison of reviewing—old school versus new blog.
Ben Vershbow, editorial director at the Institute for the Future of the Book, concedes that comments on blogs are unlikely to fully replace peer review - but thinks that academic blogging can play a role in the publishing process.

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