[Milton-L] soliciting of reviews

Jameela Lares Jameela.Lares at usm.edu
Sun Dec 14 04:04:42 EST 2008

On Friday 12/12/2008, Hannibal Hamlin wrote:

"This raises, alas, yet another question -- who should be doing the reviewing.  Many young scholars, even graduate students, are eager to review, since this is a relatively easy way of getting publications.  But this can easily make enemies and damage career prospects.  There is also a problem of authority.  I confess I get irritated when I read reviews in TLS or other major journals that are written by graduate students, even when the arguments seem sound.  Since a review is partly a guide to books that one hasn't read, one wants to be able to trust the reviewer.  This is not to deny the argument that we all have ideological bias -- not a very interesting one, I think -- but rather to assert the need for credentials and the desire of the reader for a reviewer that can be trusted."
Sorry to have not replied sooner, but I am troubled by this comment, as it seems both unworkable and unnecessarily elitist to insist that only established scholars write reviews.  How otherwise can junior scholars get established or, for that matter, how can a field of inquiry continue to attract new members?  Surely not by having those above them pull up the ladder and close the club.  Plus we all know senior scholars who can't be bothered to write reviews any more, and I hope we all know some upcoming scholars who are dazzling. Part of all our woe that death brought into the world is  that we all will only have a short time to be really established in academe.

It seems to me that the system we've got--of overworked editors comissioning reviewers as best they can--is as workable as it's going to get.

Jameela Lares
Professor of English
The U. of So. Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5037
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
601 266-6214 ofc
601 266-5757 fax

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