Monday, July 21, 2008

The Article Reject Notice (Um, No, not mine) posted a story about the New York Times choosing to reject John McCain's op ed piece on the war in Iraq, even though they previously accepted Barack Obama's. Regardless of your political views, this is one story at least many academics can relate to, since at some point in most of our careers we've had an article rejected from journals.

I'm less interested in the idea that McCain's piece was rejected (although I did chuckle briefly), and more interested in the reviewer's reason for the rejection. Although I haven't done that much writing for publication yet, I've seen a couple of rejection letters for articles. Some had probably cause to reject, some not, and some rejections were just excuses not to publish--rejections that could have easily fit the revise and resubmit category. The review from The Times does give McCain the option to revise and resubmit even though they intitally chose to reject it.

I don't intend to equate this process used by The Times with the way the process works in the academy, as there are clear differences. For one, McCain's piece was not blind reviewed, and one could speculate whether or not this may have had something to do with the rejection. But what's more interesting is the reviewer's response. I think this would be a good example to use in graduate courses (maybe research methods courses, or introductory courses to the professionalization of a particular discipline if they exist?) to open up a conversation about the challenges with publishing and reader responses. I also think this might work in an undergraduate courses, where teachers can use the reviewer's response to teach the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of peer review responses.

Just something to think about.


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