Beki Grinter

What Makes a Good Review

In academia, discipline, research on June 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Great post on what makes a good review from editors of journals in the fields of Sociology and Organization Theory. The journals are all very high quality in their fields from my understanding and there are many excellent points in there. And if I’m going to pull out one, it’s to be constructive. People spend a lot of time writing papers, even ones that are hard to read. If that’s not a reason to be constructive, I don’t know what is.

In response to the observation that reviewing is not taught in graduate school, I have in the past both shown students papers and reviews (including those from rejected papers) and also offered students new to reviewing an opportunity to discuss their review with me in confidence. This could be tricky. I say from the outset that I can’t discuss their position, since that would be adding my voice to the review when I wasn’t asked to do so. But I can sometimes help with tone. Is that a good thing to do? How do others help introduce the reviewing process to people who are new to it?

  1. hi Beki – thank you for bringing this topic up, writing a good review is hard work and does not come easily. it becomes more tricky when you don’t want to accidentally reveal that you are reviewing someone’s work by talking about it too much “in the open” . i think your approach is reasonable, especially the part where you state you are not providing feedback on their position/stance per se, but rather the actual content of the review. another way could be to co-review with a graduate student, that way they are exposed to how you (or their mentor) think about it, approach it strategically and so on. cheers.

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