¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In SQ’s open review process, are the names of the papers’ authors kept anonymous or do reviewers know who the authors are? SQ has adopted double blind review for its traditional process: neither the reviewers nor the authors are named to each other. The open review process is open in all directions: authors and all reviewers are named. Readers must register with MediaCommons, identifying themselves and their expertise, before posting.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 How will the thumbs up/down decision about publication be made? At SQ, the Editor makes the final publication decision and always has. No change here. Evaluation from readers in the open review as to the strengths and/or weaknesses of an essay will be consulted, as traditionally happens. But the final decision on publication will continue to be made by the Editor.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Will authors have a chance to respond to the comments that readers make in the open review? Authors are encouraged to respond, via comments, to readers’ feedback during the open review process. After the process has closed, authors will be revising their essays in light of that feedback and submitting final versions to be evaluated for publication.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 How many essays will be accepted for publication? The Editor will be evaluating each essay on its own merit; decisions about whether an essay is publishable will be made independent of the quality of the other submissions. Decisions will not be constrained by issues of space: if there is not enough room in the special issue for everything the Editor wishes to publish, then some material might appear in the following issue. Should the Editor decide that none of the final essays ought to be published, then the special issue might need to be shelved.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Will the text and comments be visible to the public during the review process? The essays and comments will be visible to everyone during the open review period, 2/15/2011 through 3/31/2011, and afterward in an archived form, subject to the desires of the authors. Only registered readers may leave comments, however.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Who can leave comments on the essays? Anyone who registers can leave comments on any or all of the essays. (We will be screening for spam, and removing any comments that violate MediaCommons’ spam policy.)
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Do I need to read all the essays, or can I just comment on one of them? Reviews can comment on as many of the essays posted here as they wish. You can read one and comment, then come back a week later and review another.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Do I need to leave lengthy, detailed comments on an essay, or can I just say that I like it? The authors and editors will find all constructive feedback helpful in evaluating the essays, including short comments. But the most useful feedback is that which an author can use to strengthen an argument. Comments that are respectful and engaged, whether or not they agree or disagree with a point, are useful.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 How will you be credentialing the reviewers? One of the exciting aspects of open review is that a wide pool of readers, with correspondingly wide expertise, self-select to participate. By asking reviewers to name themselves in commenting, readers, authors, and the journal’s editors can evaluate the level of expertise and respond to the varied subject positions from which reviewers are commenting. Additionally, because it may be important for scholars whose work is being reviewed here to show that senior scholars of note participated in this process, we ask readers to register by their own names and describe their expertise in the short bios before they comment.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Will reviewers get instructions in the open model as they do in the traditional model? Yes, see the welcome page for instructions on commenting on the different kinds of essays posted here.
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Are there any successful precedents for this experiment in open peer-review? We believe that SQ’s Fall 2010 New Media issue was the first humanities journal to have used a phase of open peer review as part of the expert vetting process in advance of a publication decision. (That site is archived here.) Science depositories have used a variety of open forms of review successfully (e.g., arXiv.org). Some humanities monographs (e.g., Fitzpatrick, Wardrup-Fruin) have used it in combination with traditional review. See Chapter 1 of Planned Obsolescence, on this site, for a history of peer review including many of these experiments. It should be added that many humanists, including Shakespeareans, have used open comment forums of various kinds for work accepted for publication, for decades.
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 What sort of responses did SQ get to its use of open peer-review the last time? SQ’s New Media issue got a lot of coverage in mainstream press and in the blogosphere. Both the Chronicle of Higher Education’s extensive article and the New York Times’s coverage provide responses from the open review’s participants, the journal’s editors, and from other scholars invested in questions of open access and new models of academic publishing. You can find some slightly more skeptical views voiced on some blogs (Northwest History and In the Middle).
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 Why did SQ decide to do another open peer-review? Will you being doing more such reviews? Based on our experience, we believe that open peer-review is ideally suited for special issues since it can draw on a wider range of expertise for its reviewers than a journal can typically achieve by sending out an essay to a couple of readers. For subjects such as New Media or Performance in which authors might be writing about specialized areas of research, it can be helpful for authors and editors to hear responses from more than a couple of readers. And open peer-review allows for authors to talk to each other as well, enriching the level of conversation across the board. If the format continues to produce high results, we anticipate using it on occasion for future special issues.
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 How exactly will the open review unfold? The editorial team undertakes an initial review as usual, led by the issue’s guest editor. After editorial evaluation, authors whose works advance to the phase of expert vetting will be invited to participate in the open review process. For those who do, their essays will be posted online for public commentary and feedback between 2/15/2011 and 3/31/2011. Authors may respond to this feedback before submitting their revised essays for final selection by the editors.
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 May authors respond to comments made by readers? The point of the process is that the author should be able to respond intelligently to critical comments made in open review: during the process, by responding as he/she chooses, and after the review period, by revising the essay appropriately.
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Will an author’s responses to comments during the open review period be evaluated as part of the final review phase for the essay? No. The final version of the essay will be evaluated on its own terms, as it always is.
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 May authors post responses to the essays of other authors? The short answer is yes, for the same reasons given in answer to the previous question about author responses. It is important to observe that there is no direct conflict of interest in this experiment. Potential contributors are not competing for space in the journal since the journal can ultimately publish as many essays as the Editor deems publishable.