Tuesday, October 25, 2005

But then are you really anonymous?
or, a question of propriety

[UPDATE: The consensus seems to be that people do this their anonymous reviewing. I'm still not sure that I am going to, if only because I really don't feel like combing through seven years of email to remind myself what I've reviewed. But maybe I will get a hankering for vita completeness at some point.]

A couple of weeks back there was a lot of discussion about Daniel Drezner's denial of tenure of UofC (my guess is that one factor was probably that he wasn't socially mal-adjusted enough). In reading up on the situation, I came across Drezner's vita (it's linked to the page above in pdf form) and noticed that at the end he lists the journals and presses for which he does anonymous review. I've been wondering about that (obviously not obsessively, just off and on) since then.

I'm sure there are differences field to field, but it seems to me if I say that I review for journals x, y, and z and presses m, n, and o that much of the veil of anonymity is removed. I myself have figured out who my reviewers were for various articles and books (Hint: when you are an anonymous reviewer it is probably a bad idea--and certainly bad form--to criticize someone for not citing one of your articles that hasn't appeared in print yet, and in any event is shows a lack of class to criticize someone for not citing you), and I'm sure people have figured me out occasionally.

I guess the idea would be to illustrate that you are involved in your field and respected by the academic community enough to be called upon to do anonymous review, but it seems to me similar to the same kind of resume-padding that happens when people list the societies they belong to. I guess listing anonymous review duties is a little more important, in that it shows that you're active in the field, but it seems like a bad idea to me. However, if it is standard practice and I'm hurting myself by not doing it, then I will try to dig up references to all the journals and presses I've done work for over the past eight years (what a fun job that will be).

So, do others out there put their anonymous review activities in their vitae?


Dr. Richard Scott Nokes said...


I've been anonymously reviewing your blog for some time now and, while it has some strong points, I find that it has one major weakness: it does not link to Unlocked Wordhoard with enough frequency.

Granted, Wormtalk does link to the Wordhoard, but occasionally it has individual posts that do not link to the Wordhoard. This failure to properly contextualize your blog is unacceptable.

Even more shockingly, Wormtalk links to NONE of the academic publications -- past or forthcoming -- of that leading scholar in your field, Richard Scott Nokes. It goes without saying that the work of Dr. Nokes is so groundbreaking that medievalists who do not refer to him can hardly be called "scholars" at all. In fact, I would argue that no one in any field, be it literature, philosophy, or chemistry, should neglect alluding to the work of Dr. Nokes in (at minimum) two footnotes per publication.

I can only assume that you will either address these problems or resign in disgrace.


New Kid on the Hallway said...

Interesting. Yes, I do list reviewing activities. I've never seen any problem with it, and in fact, I think the majority of c.v.s I've seen have included such activities. Personally, I don't think I review in specialized enough fields that people would be able to match up my reviews with their own work (also, I list the people I review for but not the topics - mostly b/c I figure people can figure out the topics for themselves given the rest of the info on the c.v.). Listing such stuff has always seemed pretty standard to me.

But then, I list the scholarly societies I belong to and have always seen that as standard on a c.v. as well. I wouldn't list a dozen societies, but I list four or five biggies. I think it does show involvement in the field - which you'd think could be taken for granted, but I have run into a surprising number of people who don't do things like join the AHA (or, more fitting, the Medieval Academy). Although this may have been more significant when I was a grad student/newly minted than now...

But then, I'm also of the tribe that lists articles under consideration as well as those accepted for (or appearing in) publication, which I think some people also find weird. So I may just be an inveterate padder. (It fits with my general wordiness.)

Tiruncula said...

I got in the habit of adding this kind of thing to my cv because peer reviewing for journals and presses is explicitly listed among "professional service" things that count a little bit for tenure and promotion at my school. I didn't bother to remove the info from the more public (i.e. outside my tenure file) version of my cv because I figured that the corner of our field that I inhabit is so tiny that the veil of anonymity is very, very thin anyway. My sense is that about ten of us just take turns reviewing each other's work. Very occasionally in a blind reviewing situation I get something where I can't immediately guess who the author is, but not very often, and I figure if I can guess who the author is they can probably guess who I am, and we were probably in a session together at the last Zoo. Also, I had a vague sense that since I do research in an area that's marginal for the traditional scope of the field in which I work and in which I have sought other jobs, showing on my cv that I review for mainstream, biggish-name journals in the field I want to (continue to) be employed in was a good thing for my credibility on the ol' job market.