Reflections on Peer Review

Hi Guys,

How’s the peer review going? Any interesting thoughts about the review process? Has it taught you anything that may be useful for assignment 4 or other research?

I just finished my review. I did one of the survey articles:  Privacy and Modern Advertising: Most US Internet Users Want “Do Not Track” to Stop Collection of Data About Their Online Activities. I don’t plan on using surveys for assignment 4, but I thought this sounded like the most interesting article.

One of the things I learned while doing the review was how important explaining your assumptions and technique is in writing the paper. Many of my critiques with the paper was stuff that I think was based on my confusion because I didn’t understand why they decided to use the methods they used. It harks back to stuff that both Luker and Knight talked about in the first or second weeks readings about the importance of writing throughout the whole research process. Otherwise, it`s easy to forget to include those things in your final write-up. Reviewing this paper helped drive home that point for me so it`s definitely something I need to remember while writing up assignment 4.



7 thoughts on “Reflections on Peer Review

  1. Yona Shereck

    This was also one of the main conclusions I drew from my peer review as well. I chose “A Pocket Full of Learning: Podcasting in American Colleges and Universities” and one of the primary things I noticed was the lack of explanation of the methodology and all the questions that raised. I found many issues with the methodology that could have been problems inherent in the study itself but could also have been just a lack of a thorough explanation about the choices they made when designing and conducting the study. It seemed as though the authors took the methodology for granted and assumed that the results of the study, which was also a survey, would stand on their own.

    This really made me think about the kinds of details I need to keep in mind for the final research proposal and the need to be really familiar with my research method because there are a lot of small decisions that can have large impacts on the validity and reliability of the study. I was apprehensive about the peer review assignment at first but I think it was really useful to work backwards and analyze the research methodology from the final result as opposed to starting from the beginning like we did for the SSHRC proposal.

  2. Brett Phillipson

    I’m still working on mine, and it’s proving to be a challenge. I chose “President or Dictator? A Comparison of Cuban-American Media Coverage of Cuban News” because I was interested in content analysis. The article is extremely short, which I thought at first would make my life easier… turns out I was a bit naive. There are so many problems with the methodology, with the presentation of data, and with the conclusions (or lack thereof) drawn from it that I hardly knew where to start at first. It’s given me a lot of material to work with, but it’s also made it hard to organize my thoughts. Doing additional research into content analysis has only served to highlight problems with the article that I hadn’t even been aware of.

    Another problem that I’ve been having is more stylistic: I’m trying to write in the first person, addressing the authors directly as Myers and Lee suggested. I’m just not used to writing in that way, and it’s hard to level harsh criticisms at the authors when I am addressing them directly (or pretending to do so). It’s a lot easier to be critical when you’re more detached from the work and its authors; on the other hand, I don’t want to soften my critiques just to spare the imaginary feelings of someone who isn’t going to read this anyway. I guess that highlights the importance of “activist” reviewing and of trying to turn critiques into suggestions for improvement. I doubt the authors, if they ever read my review, would appreciate my suggestions very much though.

    One last thing: have you stated in your review whether you are recommending the paper for (imaginary) publication? Where does this fit into the review?

    1. hannahmasterman Post author

      Yeah. I wasn’t sure if we had to recommend publication, revision or rejection either. My concluding statement was that I recommended a revision that addressed all my concerns.

      1. Brett Phillipson

        I think I will do something similar as well. I was thinking of stating in my introduction that I can’t recommend the paper for publication at this time, but that I recommend that the authors revise and resubmit. I might restate that in my conclusion, maybe concisely reviewing the changes that need to be made for the manuscript to be suitable for publication.

  3. jessstarr88

    Just tore myself away from the election coverage to reflect on the peer review process. Like Hannah, I did the “Privacy and Modern Advertising” article and found many challenges with the structure of the report as well as the methodologies used. Just to repeat what you guys have been saying so far – I was surprised to see how much the actual layout and structure determined my feelings on the article. I also felt like the authors forgot why they chose to do certain things and ask certain questions, and I was searching for a detailed reproduction of the actual questions asked and definitions given to form a real opinion on their research. There were also certain terms used such as “probed” that had me assuming the study was biased before I even read it in its entirety.

    I found writing the peer review very daunting and it took me days – and a lot of reading – before I even felt like I was able to write anything down. However, once I got into it I couldn’t stop. Surprisingly I really enjoyed writing the peer review, and actually think that this helped me to understand many of the concepts that Prof. Cherry had discussed, but that I had been unsure about. The process of peer reviewing itself is kind of a relaxing exercise, and it was nice to be able to write something with a real opinion in it. I definitely think that this assignment helped me for assignment 4 – sometimes seeing what not to do is even more helpful than seeing what to do.

    I also included that I would not recommend the report for publication, and basically structured my paper around why this was the case.

    All polls closed – now we just have to wait and see!

  4. emmalb

    This assignment was helpful for me in terms of highlight how some methodologies are not always useful. Having a background in History and English, the research method I am most accustomed to is content analysis. Yet for looking for trends and data this really isn’t the best way. I’ve realized how limited my experience is and my need to expand my knowledge of methods. I definitely want to try different methods out to gain experience and improve my research abilities.

    Emma Blackburn

    1. Brett Phillipson

      I thought the best part of this was having a chance to really investigate a method (in my case, content analysis) that I didn’t know much about. It was daunting, but informative.

      I’m just finishing up my bibliography and getting ready to print. I’m exhausted and not 100% pleased with how it turned out, but on the bright side Mitt Romney is not going to be the president of the United States.


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