Academic journal article Law & Society Review

Editors' Note

Academic journal article Law & Society Review

Editors' Note

Article excerpt

It can be challenging to line up the right peer reviewers for a manuscript. Reviewers benefit by getting an early sense of the work that is out, but that is a diffuse benefit. The most reliable reviewers are often those with multiple requests and reviewing while doing all the other work our jobs require is often a challenge. Peer review journals like Law and Society Review depend on the generosity of a large and varied community of potential reviewers. Editorial frustration can build around the occasional manuscript that requires two-dozen requests to get three reviews. But, the review process always improves a manuscript, sometimes considerably. The reviewers and editors put time and thought into the comments authors receive; it is a form of community service we do for, and that we rely on from, our colleagues.

Increasingly, the institution of peer reviewing has come under examination. As gatekeeper to elite academic journals, peer review marks out articles that end up as "heftier" entries in a resume. Peer review can also function to constrain the canon: novel arguments and emergent scholarship can be tougher to get through the peer review process. The double-blind process has protections against a few types of bias, but not all. Our challenge as editors is to extend both the reach and the variety of law and society scholarship while maintaining disciplinary rigor and coherence.

A Times Higher Education article (Matthews, 2016) argues that the peer review system "is coming apart at the seams." According to the article, increasing numbers of papers submitted and of journal types add new strains to the system. Should peer review practices change? Should existing journals, say, move to paying referees for their work? …

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