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DRAFT 1 Peer Review, Citation Practices, and Finding Scholarship Draft2

The methods that scholars use to write, evaluate, and circulate their work are all systems that should be understood as not "neutral" methods.

Scholar Representation by Race

Scholar Representation by Race

This tally acknowledges the white supremacy in this field: the numbers indicate the racial representation of the books listed in this libguide.

Black Scholars: 2  Indigenous Scholars: 4    Other POC Scholars: 3  White Scholars: 7

You will find this on many of our LibGuides, as a system to keep us accountable in looking at the racial diversity of the sources we provide. 

What is Peer Review?

Peer review is a system to evaluate scholarship and its credibility for publication: a group of peers (an undefined standard) review the quality and nature of the work by not just the thesis, but also the voice, tone, format, and citations. The idea behind peer review is to constructively criticize scholarship to help it become better.

This system for assessing and valuing scholarship has generally taken a race-neutral stance. However, this stance neglects a diversity of thought, format, innovation, and scholarly persons. The assumption of scholars holding the same objective stances when reviewing work is incorrect.

To read more about Racial Organization Theory, start with Victor Ray's A Theory of Racialized Organization.  
To read more about inequities in peer review systems, specifically against Indigenous peoples, has a story

These sources have been selected based upon research for the Kennedy Library's Digital Publishing Project. 

Types of Peer Review

Open peer review encourages anyone to be a "peer" and comment upon the scholarship.

This may also be termed "Community Peer Review," which does depend upon thinking about who is part of the "Community." 

An example of open peer review is Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick's Planned Obsolescence's manuscript. 
To read more about the ideas of Open Peer Review, start with her "Peer Review, Judgement, and Reading." 

Many disciplines have established pre-print systems, where papers are uploaded into a "pre-print" collection for anyone to review. Some examples are Arxiv (computer science), PsyArxiv (psychology), SocOpen (sociology), and HCommons (humanities disciplines). 

The forms of knowledge and the practices of ownership that follow these forms are not the only ways that review can happen. 

The ɬaʔamɩn Indigenous people have shared their methodologies through their stories and publishing space, specifically using Traditional Knowledge Labels.  It is important to understand that ideas of ownership, knowledge possession, and sharing may be different, as generously shared by RavenSpace Publishing's As I Remember It

It is important also to remember that from Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, Decolonization is Not a Metaphor

Two additional sources that have helped me a lot in rethinking ideas of valuing knowledge are the following:

  • Kathleen E. Absolon's Kaandossiwin: How We Come to Know. Fernwood Publishing: 2011. 
  • Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Eve Tuck, and K. Wayne Yang's Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education: Mapping the Long View. Routledge, June 18, 2018.:

Most peer review is done in written forms, but multimodal review allows for assessment of various forms of scholarship, as well as allowing the assessment itself to be in various forms.

Here are a few examples of various forms:

  • Podcasts
    Dr. Cheryl Ball is an advocate proponent of multimodal scholarship, and she demonstrates this in a podcast peer review system here
    Read more about openness and professional advancement practices, authored by Dr. Ball, Kim Barrett, PEter Berkery, Jessica Clemons, Sheree Crosby, Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, and Stacy Konkiel here
  • Twitter 
    Brian Watson #tweetvaluation's Dr. Hannah Turner's "Cataloguing Culture Legacies of Colonialism in Museum Documentation" here
  • Born Digital Formats  
    As more student work is becoming born digital, the standards across disciplines have turned towards not only looking at content to evaluate, but also the format: example guidelines
    Generally, the criteria calls for not assessing personal opinions on what the scholarship could be, but rather look at what it should do - access knowledge, showing significance, and justifying the form of the research. 
    This video describing digital dissertations also goes through various forms of evaluations. 
  • Other Models
    Historically, Western Europe has been the forefront of pushing for open, digital scholarship. For example, this book about digital dissertations goes through the legitimacy of a different mode - included performance based, electronic, and new digital tech.  

The author does not know who the reviewers are, but reviewers see (and hence can judge) author's name. This is the most common form of peer review among science journals.  Reviewers remain anonymous to the author. 


Read more about bias in single- blind peer review systems: 

Single- vs. double-blind reviewing at WSDM 2017 Andrew Tomkins, Min Zhang, William D. Heavlin
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Nov 2017, 114 (48) 12708-12713; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1707323114

The author does not know who the reviewers are, and reviewers do not know who the author is. This is often used in social science and humanities journals. 

Though double blind peer review may seem the most neutral, the inequities within the publishing industry can often allow for bias, even with the anonymity of names, from voice, citations, and argument. 

Read more about a librarian's thoughts about double-blind review, and it's relationship to open peer view here

History of Peer Review

Though our publication systems are seen as timeless, their heightened importance ("publish or perish" is a phrase that is often heard around academics) started only around fifty years or so ago. Here at Cal Poly, in Polytechnic University, the requirements for faculty to publish depends upon the department; these standards can emphasize the name of publication, the type of review, the number of publications, or the standard of 'peer' that oversees the publications. 

Some of this development can be tracked in the Academic Senate Resolutions records, that describe the various requirements for faculty to hold their positions.  

Although academia generally considers itself to be an industry within a bubble, the systems that create scholarship are still affected by political, daily events. For example, the Cold War has affected Peer Review, as written in this article by Dr. Melina Baldwin; the funding, especially, of research, always is affected by events that may be considered outside of higher education.  Even technology, like a Xerox machine, affects the ability of being able to peer review scholarship.  Knowledge building may always have a political agenda, as shown by Melissa Adler's arguments about nationalism affecting how we order our books, or how Peer Review has evolved over the years in the National Institute of Heath.  

A good place to start understanding how these recent histories have disproportionately affected BIPOC faculty is a collection edited by Dr. Patricia Matthew: Written/Unwritten: Diversity and the Hidden Truths of Tenure


"According to Biagioli (2002), peer review was originally used as a complement to state censorship—foreign products were censored, while those produced within the state under the auspices of national academies were subject to “internal,” that is, intrastate, peer review. The notion of an internal peer gradually moved away from the state, shifting the locus of power to academic disciplines. Today...peer review is treated as a guarantee of epistemic warrant, as well as viewed as another means of securing academic freedom. However, the sort of academic freedom peer review secures is negative—peer review erects a barrier against outside, nonacademic interference. What is lacking is any sense that peer review could also be used to expand our positive freedom (Holbrook 2010). We seek assurance from our peers that what we say is right, or at least not wrong, rather than insurance from peer review to take intellectual and academic risks. Disciplines define peers."

- ALA Scholarly Communications. Source 



"If we want to move to a more efficient, web-native science, we must make that dilemma disappear: what is good for scholarship must become good for the scholar. Instead of assessing only paper-native articles, books, and proceedings, we must build a new system where all types of scholarly products are evaluated and rewarded."

-Stacy Konkiel, Heather Piwowar, Jason Priem. The Imperative for Open Altmetrics. impactstory
Volume 17, Issue 3: Metrics for Measuring Publishing Value: Alternative and Otherwise, Summer 2014


Creative Works in the library is striving to model this with the Digital Publishing Pilot.