Blog #9: Peer Review Launchpad

As discussed at length in this class, digital scholarship can be defined as a new vehicle for performing traditional scholarship. This method of scholarship operates under simultaneously similar and different parameters from its analog predecessor. Digital scholarship can transduce information that, if left analog, might not have provided the same insight. This then begs the question of how to ensure that digital scholarship can be held to the same rigor of traditional scholarship. Peer review has been used to ensure that the scholarship of the past was held up to the standards of the academy. However, if digital scholarship differs from other forms of scholarship in various ways, then how can peer review, as it is currently designed, ensure adequate scholarly performance? 

They are perplexed by your choices!

I remember us discussing in class how to anonymously peer review on the digital platform (if it can be done). It got me thinking about how one would even go about finding folks to peer review your digital content. This then brought me to the consideration not of who can peer review scholarship, but of how many people can we get to peer review scholarship. Like what Sheila Cavanaugh points to in “Living in a Digital World”, I wonder what it would look like to do iterative peer review. From the way I think of it, it appears very time consuming and not very cost effective. But would it not create a system of review that ensures a project has the rigor that traditional models of scholarship call for? What would it look like if there was a wireframe peer review, a general content peer review, and beyond? What if, instead of looking at peer review like the landing point for scholarship, it was looked at like a series of launchpads for it, instead? Could peer review become a way of fostering new forms of collaboration in the academy?

Forgive me for going corporate, but I like to think about the iterative product design cycle when considering the iterative peer review process.

On the subject of collaboration, I think there’s a necessary connection to be made between this re-imagining of peer review and the digital humanities. I think the collaborative framework of digital humanities absolutely invites a reconsideration of the traditional peer review process. Additionally, it is this framework of digital humanities scholarship that is leading me to think about traditional peer review in an iterative form rather than a solitary experience. For a review that is being conducted by a “group” of peers, the experience of reviewing a scholarly project seems to be like a solitary endeavor. I think having periods of review, rather than a final stage of review, in the scholarly process allows for more eyes to see a work and for more opportunities to revise the work. Nathan Loewen brings up an interesting point in his blog on the AAR Guidelines, stating, “as the acknowledgements in many monographs will show, scholarship typically results from ongoing conversations across a variety of modalities.” For a process that, behind the scenes, requires a lot of minds to work, why not make this collaboration more explicit and intentional in the ways all scholarship (not just digital) operates? I think this opportunity to re-imagine peer review for digital scholarship opens the doors not only for digital humanists, but for “analog” (quotes because how can one truly be analog in today’s climate) scholars, as well.

Check out the works I referenced in this blog!

Living in a Digital World: Rethinking Peer Review, Collaboration, and Open Access Journal of Digital Humanities. Accessed 17 Nov. 2022.

Loewen, Nathan. “A Modest Proposal for the AAR’s Guidelines for Evaluating Digital Scholarship.” Studying Religion in Culture, 7 Aug. 2017,

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2 thoughts on “Blog #9: Peer Review Launchpad

  1. I think your iterative product design example is the perfect pictoral representation of the idea you present for re-imagining peer review! I think the idea of having different cycles of peer review for different aspects of a piece of scholarship is important for all forms of scholarly production, analog and digital. I like the quote you include from Nathan Loewan — behind the scenes, collaboration is always taking place, and I think acknowledgement of that should become more foregrounded in academia.

  2. To echo what Caroline said above, I love the diagram of iterative product design cycle to demonstrate how that process could be realized within peer review. That design also underscores your point of the peer review process being a series of launchpads instead of a landing point (another excellent analogy). By thinking of peer review in that way, scholarship becomes a collaborative endeavor. One that highlights research progress rather than only the result. Through collaboration, scholars can gain new perspectives and perhaps implement elements into their research that they would not have thought of otherwise. Here’s to hoping that academia can come to these conclusions as well!

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