Reflection 2: Peer review, metrics, and the audit culture

Peer review is one of my most feared subjects, especially when it comes in submitting research abstracts, presentations, and/or study protocols. I fear my peers review because of exact same reasons that are identified in Lamont’s research, which is described by Scott Jaschik in the “The ‘Black Box’ of Peer Review” article posted in Inside Higher Education – “judgment on proposals is clouded by their (professors) own personal interests, deal making among panelists to make sure decisions are made in time for panelists to catch their planes, and an uneven and somewhat unpredictable efforts by panelists to reward personal drive and determination over qualities that a grant program says are the actual criteria”. Although part of my brain felt relieved to learn that there are some research findings that supported my personal thoughts/fears on this subject, my other part of the brain felt gloomy. Due to my work in public health field of Mongolia I collaborate with many national and international professionals to prepare and submit grant proposals to various funding agencies inside and outside of the country. Therefore, I have found this article to be insightful in educating me on how reviewers think and work. Yet, the most interesting part of this reading was going through comments that people left on this site. The comments ranged from those who supported the research findings of M. Lamont –Wondering – to SS, who disagreed.

I had so many laughs when I watched Catharine Cross performance called “Why peer review is like your extended family” on youtube and when I read “When Peer Review Turns Frustrated Authors Into Hilarious Editorialists”. C. Cross used humor to describe main comments that we receive from our peer review committees and I thought her comparison of these comments with comments that we receive from our families was funny and smart. The last reviewer comments in the “When Peer Review Turns Frustrated Authors Into Hilarious Editorialists” spoke to me because I wrote the same comment in one my review and reading the part on How Not to respond, I realized this is how an author felt when he/she read my review comment.

I was bored reading the “Tenure’s Dirty Little Secret” by Milton Greenbergand I actually questioned myself and here my reflections on why I was not taken by this article. First of all, it discussed the tenure subject in American colleges and universities; secondly, academia is not a field that I wish to work in, and thirdly, I didn’t see any solution for the subject of tenure that M. Greenberg was addressing in his article. Then, it occurred to me that I should learn to stregch my limits and try to broaden my knowledge about different topics in other countries. If I plan to become knowledge translating person I should enrich myself with knowledge that myself may not benefit but others could use it at a great gain. So I have tried to use “peer review” approach in re-reading this article and prepared my review. I did re-read it and came to a conclusion that Milton Greenberg was describing this tenure situation in American education system, which is known to all but he has failed to provide his answers on how this tenure issue could be solved. Perhaps, I wasn’t a good peer reviewer.




Jaschik S. The ‘black box’ of peer review.  Inside Higher Education, Mar. 4, 2009. [read comments, too]

Scott, Alister (2007), “Peer Review and the Relevance of Science”, Futures 39, 827–845.

Cross, Kate, on peer review. [Stand-up comedian & research fellow, at Bright Club, Edinburgh.] Aug. 20, 2012

Greenberg, Milton. Tenure’s dirty little secret. Chron Higher Educ, Jan. 1, 2012.



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