¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 What you have just read is a preliminary set of suggestions for how open peer review in the humanities might be organized around a series of human interactions and technological specifications that promote both flexibility and rigor in the review process. The next steps are to test these recommendations. Throughout this document, we have suggested that no single set of tools or rules can work for all open review, but rather that the process must be subject to structured flexibility whereby each community first establishes criteria based on the needs of particular projects and then selects platform functionalities that allow them to realize those criteria. To further that, we propose that various communities of practice begin to work with technologists to map out an array of tools or tool options that might be deployed, adapted, or built and that can provide a healthy range of review settings and templates. Bringing together scholarly and developer communities to customize existing tools like Drupal, WordPress and OJS would provide alternatives for open review that neither require a re-invention of the proverbial wheel nor force academics to simply make do with what is already out there regardless of how well it meets community parameters. While different tools will be needed and used to meet different community objectives, if a consistent set of questions is asked about each review process, then the technological developments would remain bound by a flexible – but not infinite – range of options, rather than existing as self-contained and disparate experiments.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 2 Though more experimentation is needed before any conclusions might be drawn about the effectiveness and affectivity of the flexible parameters and technical specifications we’ve proposed, we nonetheless believe that open review is essential for modeling a conversational, collaborative discourse that not only harkens back to the humanities’ long investment in critical dialogue as essential to intellectual labor, but also models a forward-looking approach to scholarly production in a networked era. Moreover, we firmly endorse the notion that open review can and should facilitate the best kinds of humanities scholarship by virtue of its focus on the process of scholarly review as much as its end product. Indeed, in the Socratic tradition, open review models how the former is integral to the latter, demanding a level of accountability and reciprocity typically obscured by traditional review practices. In opening up not only the review process but also the processes for cultivating and recognizing “peers,” open review also holds the potential to expand knowledge nodes horizontally (as opposed to traditional review’s penchant for vertical peer conferral), encouraging greater interdisciplinarity, which, again, is at the center of humanities-based scholarly practice.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 1 While ideas about open review are steeped in a humanities tradition, we contend that new review practices might also contribute to a redefinition of the role of the humanities scholar in the 21st century as well as the nature of scholarly publishing. Open review’s embrace of transparency and dialogue can potentially transform scholars from knowledge purveyors to conversational stewards, by placing equal importance on the (normally either invisible or devalued) “scribbles in the margins” — the discussions around a particular work. In turn, open review can help devise new types of scholarly output, as annotations, comments and other short-form posts become both cited and citable, while written works go through multiple pre- and post-publication iterations with versions replacing numbered editions. Finally, open review can help re-conceptualize how scholars are trained and mentored, widening the community that junior scholars can learn from while promoting an ethos of openness and transparency when it comes to participating in collaborative forms of intellectual labor. The ripple effects of such transformations would be felt well beyond the review process, possibly contributing to a rethinking of other academic gold standards and rites of passage, from how graduate seminars engage with scholarly works to how dissertations are written and defended, from the materials evaluated by promotion and tenure committees to the very process of evaluating tenure files.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 1 Before such transformations can occur, however, we must first find a way to validate the open review process for humanities scholarship. We believe that the parameters a laid out in this document are important first steps toward achieving that goal.