The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0325 Wednesday, 1 August 2012
Date: July 31, 2012 11:37:07 PM EDT
Subject: Re: Peer/SHand
Gabriel Egan feels that “having previously advised a writer on their work [should not disqualify] a referee from reporting on the version presented to a journal, so long as the double-blind process is upheld.”
I previously expressed my preference for a double-blind review process, because that system would minimize the influence that a writer’s reputation or lack thereof could have on the reviewer. Obviously, that goal is served by maintaining the anonymity of the writer; it is not important for that purpose that the reviewer’s identity be concealed. Other desiderata are served by keeping the referee’s identity a secret from the writer, as the current system does, not the least of which is protecting him or her from the wrath of a rejected scholar. But it seems to me that fairness requires a reviewer at least to disclose to the journal any prior interaction with an author whose identity can reasonably be inferred, at least involvement with respect to the subject of the paper. That would allow the journal to select a different reviewer if it wished or to allow the writer a right of reply to a negative report. It would be preferable, however, for referees to recuse themselves if they infer the identity of the author. Perhaps Gabriel, who wants a pure double-blind scheme, will agree.