Scholarly review may evolve differently in a Digital Age..
traditional peer review, a small group of specialized experts rule,
often anonymously, on whether academic work will be published in the
most prestigious journals. The process can take months or years. The
wait is distressing for professors whose route to tenure is at stake,
and a release of information to other scholars and the public is
delayed. In the age of the internet, scholarly writing and research can
be swiftly exposed to the judgments of a much broader and more diverse
audience."Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review,"
a New York Times
story by Patricia Cohen, describes how Shakespeare Quarterly
a prestigious 60-year-old academic journal, became the first elite
humanities publication to post essays online for review. A core group
of experts was invited to post signed comments on Media Commons
a scholarly digital network, and others who signed in with their own
names could comment as well. More than 350 comments came from 41
people. Authors of the four posted essays were able to respond to the
comments and could choose to revise their work. The journal's editors
will make the final decision on what appears in the September 17 issue.Katherine Rowe
, a Renaissance specialist and media historian at Bryn Mawr College, is quoted in the Times
story as saying: "What we're experiencing now if the most important
transformation in our reading and writing tools since the invention of
moveable type. The way scholarly exchange is moving is radical, and we
need to think about what it means for our fields."
Several online sites post recent scholarly work
and the physical sciences
is a European research project whose founders want to revolutionize the ways scientists share and evaluate their work.H-Net.org
published free interactive newsletters from humanities and social science scholars all over the world.
Lamont, a Harvard sociologist who analyzed peer review a 2009 book, has
expressed skepticism about reviews by amateurs, but notes that debates
at the site Sociologica.mulino.it
are considered "frontier knowledge" even though they are not peer reviewed.
Dan Cohen, director of the Center for History and New Media
at George Mason University, told theTimes
"Serious scholars are asking whether the institutions of the academy-as
they have existed for decades, even centuries-aren't becoming obsolete.
In his view, the Times
says, the tension between
the scholarship of elite groups of experts and the irrepressible
interactions and exchange of ideas on the web is a daunting issue, and
"Academia is caught in the middle." Cohen posts his work regularly
, and says responses from people outside academia have made it better.
entirely fitting that an experiment with erudite crowd sourcing should
involve essays on Shakespeare. Shakespeare, who was born in 1564, lived
in an age of tension, transition and upheaval and his work is filled
with insights on the human condition as relevant in the rapidly changing
world of the 21st century as they were in his own time.