This Wired piece suggests that instead of pre-publication review, academia accept post-publication review. I’m not so sure of this. While I support Open Access and always make my own published articles and book chapters freely available on my web site and my academia.edu site, it seems to me that carefully managed pre-pub review offers scholars feedback in a politically and personally safe way–the double-blind process is there to prevent abuses of review. For example, it keeps a scholar’s work from being subjected to review by someone whose book garnered a mixed or bad review by said scholar, or by someone with an obvious conflict of interest. Pre-pub review also offers scholars the potential of learning of new sources, cleaning up messy prose or restructuring for clarity, or to fix small errors or ambiguous statements.
Post-pub reviews could, I suppose, be anonymous at the reviewer’s end, but the author will be identified. And if the author for whatever reason decides not to revise, or if there’s a conflict that can’t be settled by editorial or scholarly means, where does the article go from there? So while I, like many others, get a little tense whenever an email pops up that says “your reviews are back,” I still think I’d prefer to get them privately before I make a final revision rather than publicly after.
A few years ago the Folger held an open review process for some articles. The articles had already been through a basic editorial review for factual content, clarity, and common sense, and were then posted in an open forum for other Shakespeare scholars to comment upon. There, the comments were generally helpful and pointed to other sources, offered further analysis of materials, and seemed to be appreciated by the authors. In that case, the authors and reviewers were respectful and collegial with one another. But the same set up could go disastrously wrong. If you think the sniping on the AMS-list over normally petty things is bad, can you imagine what we might see in an open review of an article for JAMS?
Would you post an article and wait for post-pub review? Before tenure? After tenure? If you’re never going to be on the TT? What safeguards would you want? What ramifications could this have for the field in general?