How quickly some journals give offers

Sean Wilson whoooo26505 at
Thu Nov 3 15:08:24 PST 2005

Well, I would also add this: that perception may be somewhat misleading. What also happens in peer review in political science -- at least in the judicial politics field -- is that certain academic camps throw darts at conclusions that they don't want to see published.  I have a piece that is circulating now that re-models Jeffrey Segal's work in a way that is clearly more methodologically sound and produces new conclusions about the inferences that can be drawn from Segal and Spaeth's own data. The reviews I get appear to come from "camps." Although it is true that many comments are indeed helpful, the reviewers also a great deal of issue deflection and contradictory assertions. People working in a game theory paradigm argue that Segal and Spaeth's bivariate model is not important to the literature (which is not true as a factual matter); and people from an attitudinal camp argue that the bivariate model is just fine and dandy if you simply supplement it with tools to corre!
 ct for
 ecological inference or a multi-level analysis. This, of course, is issue deflection -- one doesn't need to correct and tinker if  one avoids it in the first place. And of course, some reviews are very favorable.
So I would say this: peer review is not always (100%) quality review; it can also suppress the production of new ideas and keep good information from getting into the marketplace of ideas -- at least temporarily. This is especially where the work purports to shift the paradigm in a direction that many academics, frankly, do not want to go. I bet law reviews are more likely to publish ground-breaking or "loud" assertions that are appropriate scholarly work under the auspices of being more open minded. Legal culture loves criticism. The peer review process, I think, is more likely to censor new things until it has a better fix on it -- unless, of course, you are big name from a big institution, in which case the reviews really are not anonymous (because people know each other's work). .
So I think the perception of peer review as quality review is not 100% accurate. Again, though, I'm not complaining (too much) because some of the feedback is genuinely good.              

Howard Schweber <schweber at> wrote:
This is one of the reasons publication in law reviews is often not taken 
seriously in departments of history or political science. In those fields, 
articles can only be submitted to a single journal, which may take months 
or even years to reach a decision. My personal record: an article that 
was accepted by Law & Society Review 25 months after it was submitted.

Howard Schweber

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