Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Reviewing: Ethical Failures

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Reviewing: Ethical Failures

Article excerpt

Every day, thousands of book reviews appear in newspapers, magazines, and journals; referees tender their assessments of book and article manuscripts to publishers and journal editors; and peer reviewers offer their opinions on the worthiness of grant proposals. Superficially, it appears as if the process works and a fair evaluation has been rendered. It defies credibility that ethical imbroglios should arise in the clear and unambiguous task of assessing and evaluating books, manuscripts, and grant proposals. A competent person agrees to comment on a document, either to fulfill a professional obligation or to earn some recompense. He or she does the job and the process is carried forward. But as with most human endeavors astonishing concatenating problems arise.

Reviewers promise to return their work by a certain date, but they do not: they are late; they lose the document; they move; or they forget about their commitment. They are irresponsible, uncaring, unresponsive. Reviewers fail to inform the editor that the author of the book, or manuscript or proposal (in non-blinded situations) is a friend, colleague, competitor, or enemy-situations that can result in a subjective, distorted, or unfair evaluation. Sometimes book reviewers use their allotted space to ramble, decry, agitate, ride a hobby horse, harp on insignificant points or errors, or discuss irrelevancies. …

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