Friday, April 28, 2017

Reading Too Much Into Reviewing Patterns

I should not be tempting the Reviewing Gods, but I have not been asked to do as much refereeing of manuscripts for academic journals this year.  I tend to average about 18-20 or so a year plus occasional reviews of book manuscripts and a couple of tenure reviews, and I am below that rate... well until this week. I have a few reactions:
  • The slump in academic productivity has meant fewer manuscripts to be reviewed by anyone.  At the ISA meeting, it was widely shared that the various journals of the ISA were all receiving fewer manuscripts than in previous periods ... since Trump was inaugurated.  Academics have been do distracted by the daily messes made by Trump that they have not been as productive. This is not just me, but a systematic pattern revealed by journal submissions.  So, fewer submissions, fewer reviews.
  • That even thinking about this reduced reviewing load is bad.  Why?  Because I have already alerted the Reviewing Gods with my thoughts about this recently.  And, lo, I now have several requests hitting me at the same time.  Oh, at the same time as I have been notified about a request or two to which I had not realized I had agreed.
  • One of the key laws of reviewing is that the requests do come in bunches.  This can sometimes be predicted: after the winter holidays after folks have had some time to finish projects, a month into summer after people get the last bits done, and at the end of the summer after people have had a chance to complete projects.  But end of April?  Unless these are all by Canadians (Canadian academic year is shorter), then the flood is a wee bit early this year.
Anyhow, as a friend said on twitter, if you submit articles, then reviewing is just part of doing your share since your stuff has to be reviewed, too.  So, I don't mind, and I usually say yes as long as the stuff is in my lane, and as long as the pile is not so high that the new manuscript will not wait too long,  Oh, and when I am about to fly, I say yes more easily as reading manuscripts in airports and planes is not a bad way to pass the time.

So, yes, I have tempted the Reviewing Gods by writing this.  Ooops.

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