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Shorthand

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0309  Thursday, 19 July 2012

 

[1] From:        John Drakakis < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 18, 2012 11:59:54 AM EDT

     Subject:     RE: SHAKSPER: Shorthand 

 

[2] From:        Gabriel Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 18, 2012 12:36:53 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        John Drakakis < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 18, 2012 11:59:54 AM EDT

Subject:     RE: SHAKSPER: Shorthand

 

I have followed the strand on ‘shorthand’, not because I have anything to contribute to it, but because I had hoped to learn something. In Gerald Downs’ latest posting I read more about his frustrations with reviewers. Do I need to know this, no matter how much I might sympathise with his frustrations? I’m all for a little bit of ‘flaming’ and harmless banter on SHAKSPER, but this is now getting out of hand.  Can we return to the concise, genially professional comments of the sort that Harry Berger has helpfully offered that present a challenge succinctly and accurately, without telling us what he’s had for breakfast or who his latest enemies might be.

 

Cheers

John Drakakis

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Gabriel Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 18, 2012 12:36:53 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand

 

I sympathize with Gerald Downs’s experiences with peer review. The system is indeed imperfect. In all my dealings with journals, as would-be contributor and editor, I have advocated the use of double-blind peer review which, when properly practised, ought to avoid most of the problems Gerald Downs has experienced. It wouldn’t help with what Downs describes as the behaviour of the late Douglas Brooks, but since Brooks is not alive to defend himself I don’t think we can usefully explore that case.

 

I was scandalized to be part of a conversation at the Washington DC meeting of the Renaissance Society of America earlier this year in which a scholar just embarking on his career who had been given guest editorship of a special issue of a major journal blithely admitted that he didn’t plan to put the contributions through any form of peer review. I’ve been toying with the idea of complaining about this to more than just my friends and relatives as I really think it shocking.

 

As an advocate of double-blind peer review, I am troubled by these sentences by Downs:

 

<< For that article one of the reviewers was (I'm sure)

Gabriel Egan, with whom I had discussed an earlier version.

He has now officially judged the essay and would rather

not discuss that which didn't pass peer review. >>

 

Naturally, Downs’s implication of impropriety on my part is painful to me. I’d very much like to know why Downs is sure the reviewer was me. If the journal revealed to him the reviewer’s identity, it should not have. If it’s merely his hunch, I’d like to hear the evidence on which the hunch is based. If Downs is willing to throw light on this, I’m willing to say whether I was the reviewer.

 

The peer-review process could, in my view, be more transparent. In particular, I think reviewers should lose their anonymity when articles are accepted, and their reports should be published along with the articles.

 

Gabriel Egan

 

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