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Monday, May 30, 2011

Where could "real" reviews be published?


Yesterday I have been discussing with a colleague about the need of "real" reviews, reviews which could influence in a positive way the studies in a certain discipline, because they would point out the actual flaws of a book or a project. Reviews are usually not written in this way since one does want to review in a positive way books written by people of one's "school", people one feels indebted with and people whose favour one wants to acquire (and vice versa). Could blind reviews be the solution? Perhaps, but why should one engage in writing them, if one could not even gain the glory of having them published with one's name on them?
Hence, my colleague suggested the following solution: an ad hoc journal, which should specialise in reviewing in a sincere way the most important books, so that one could anyway be proud of being reviewed in it. Since the journal would programmatically review honestly all sorts of author, the risk of vindicts should be lessened.
I would add that the beginning might be the most difficult point of the project. Perhaps it would be easier to have well-known scholars writing the first "harsh" reviews?

What do you think? Could it work?

On the topic of reviews, see here.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Re: "…the need of "real" reviews, reviews which could influence in a positive way the studies in a certain discipline, because they would point out the actual flaws of a book or a project."

Yep.
e.g.,
• http://www.iias.nl/the-newsletter/article/indigenous-history-antidote-zomia-theory
• http://www.iias.asia/article/cambodias-religions-ashes-and-ink

There are not many positive answers to your question (of where to publish real reviews) but, at the moment, the I.I.A.S. is one.

You should look at putting together your own publication along the same lines of the I.I.A.S. or other "informal" publications (e.g. Anthropology Today) that do have the editorial credibility to publish demolitions (and not just uncritical praise).

elisa freschi said...

Dear Anonymous reader,

I read the second review (because I don't think I can judge about the first one) and I agree with the fact that it is harsh but (most probably) fair, exactly the kind of review I would be happy to read. Praise to the IIAS newsletter, then!

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