¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In exploring the possibilities for what we originally thought of as “peer-to-peer review” — review practices and tools that would enable the direct communication among a network of peers around scholarly publications — we began to focus on the ways that opening up review practices might further some crucial values and goals in the humanities. We aspire, as scholars, to engage our students, our colleagues, and a range of broader publics in exploring aspects of our complex histories and cultures. We also seek to model the emergence of critical thinking and intellectual pursuit through Socratic forms of inquiry, stressing the essential role played by discussion and debate in knowledge formation.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 3 Much of this work is already done in the open; we present work at conferences, discuss it in workshops, share it with our colleagues, and so forth. But typically our publication processes have operated off-stage. In recent years, however, more and more important new work in the humanities is simply being published online, without the presumed benefits of pre-publication review; scholars are keeping individual blogs and participating in group blogs, and more and more conference presentations and working papers are being posted online. Further, many scholars are finding that the feedback they receive through these formats is as substantive and productive as traditional peer reviews have been. Given the ways that open practices are enabling scholars’ work to develop, it seems increasingly important for the humanities to take account of such practices, and to explore the possibilities that they present for our fields more broadly.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 11 What do we mean by our use of “open” in thinking about open review, however? Must everything be open to everyone, or are there degrees of openness that might be useful to different communities of practice at different times? Might, for instance, a frank discussion among a defined cluster of scholars be particularly important at certain times, while a discussion opened to broader publics would be crucial at others? Must all reviews be submitted under reviewers’ real names, or are there situations in which some degree of anonymity or pseudonymity remains useful? Moreover, are these two forms of openness — openness of access to the review process and openness of reviewer identity — related, or are they separable? We do not want to conflate distinct functions or formations in the scholarly communication process, nor do we want to foreclose choices that particular communities of practice might find beneficial. At root, we value openness for the ways that it can enable the members of a community of practice to perform and develop in collaboration with one another, rather than to assume or prescribe pre-existing standards for contribution.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 4 Open processes such as those we explore in this document can go badly, of course, or they can go well. Open processes require careful cultivation within a community, as well as careful attention to the heterogeneity of that community. These processes, however, turn the “problem” of a diverse community into a value, creating a self-consciousness within the community about its presuppositions and assumptions, and facilitating the development of a range of new perspectives and voices.