School of Advanced Study launches its first ‘Peer Review Week’

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Peer review is the ‘gold standard’ for the evaluation of academic research, according to the 2016 Stern Report. That’s why, in its first Peer Review Week, the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, plans to take a closer look at the key questions and related topics of peer review through a series of free public events.

These are some of those questions:

While it is central to publishing, to processes for awarding research grants, to academic promotion, and to other forms of research support in higher education institutions, what are the challenges for peer review in the 21st century? Has it changed to reflect evolving humanities disciplines and increasing interdisciplinarity? Does it still have a constructive and enabling function or has greater competition for publishing contracts and funding awards shifted the emphasis towards gatekeeping and exclusion? Can peer review stifle innovation and reward the status quo? How do researchers learn to be effective and skilled peers? Have online publishing systems downgraded the role of the journal or book series editor in mediating peer review? Where do any of us find the time to be good academic citizens and review the work of others as we would like our own to be reviewed?

Taking place online, the events include two early-career researcher training sessions offering practical advice and guidance about responding to and writing peer review of articles, books and research grants, and two policy debates that will consider whether peer review in the humanities faces unsustainable pressures and how effectively it is responding to disciplinary and interdisciplinary change.

  • Peer review 1: articles and books (24 May, 11.30am–12.45pm GMT). Aimed at early career researchers in the humanities, this first session will provide practical advice and guidance about how to respond feedback for journal articles, book proposals and book manuscripts. It will also consider how to write a constructive peer review report.
  • Peer review 2: research grants (26 May, 11.30am–12.45pm GMT). On day two, discussions will revolve around a research grant application after it has been submitted, what to expect from peer review, and how to write a principal investigator’s response to interim peer review for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council funding applications. Panellists will also explain how the AHRC Peer Review College works, and what reviewers are expecting to see in a high-quality research proposal.
  • Peer review 3: peer review under pressure (27 May, 2–3.15pm GMT). Day three will be a detailed analysis of whether systems of peer review in the humanities are facing unsustainable pressures, the impact of Covid-19 and how we might not just improve peer review but begin to reimagine it.
  • Peer review 4: peer review and disciplinary change (27 May, 4–5.15pm GMT). On the final day panellists will consider how peer review is responding to disciplinary and interdisciplinary change, whether ground-breaking interdisciplinary and innovative disciplinary research is being well served by existing mechanism for peer review, and how new kinds of research outputs might most effectively be evaluated.

For more details and to sign up for any of these free events, visit: SAS Peer Review Week.