Never let it be said that I didn’t fight for my people at this forum. But, I have yet another rant to throw down for my reviewing and editing homies–myself included. Here goes.
There’s dirty work that goes on in the world of publishing and awards in the professional world. This work is often tedious, time-consuming, unpaid, and worst of all–uncredited. What work am I talking about? But of course! It is reviewing and editing other people’s writing.
Most publishers will let on that it is an “honor” to be asked to review or edit material before it is published–particularly for peer-reviewed work. Being asked makes you the expert, allegedly. However, I’m here to tell you that the work of editing and/or reviewing is NOT given the credit it is due.
I’ve edited and reviewed several books now (the authors have been gracious about this – as they can relate to how much work actually goes into writing a book, and is an exception here–they’re great at giving credit where credit is due), book chapters, and other publications in “peer-reviewed” journals, as well as award contests.
This work is first of all, rarely paid. Second, I’m pretty sure I’ve only received actual credit, in name, for one book chapter review thus far. (OK, maybe a second, but the new edition of that book hasn’t been published yet – so jury’s still out on that one.) Furthermore, I’ve never been given credit for reviewing award nominations, nor any of the peer reviewed journal articles I’ve reviewed–and I’ve reviewed now several of both. Heck, on one internationally known award review program, I didn’t even get a token email thank you at the end of my pile of reviews that took me several hours to go through and evaluate! I’m still waiting on that thank you, and I think I’ll be waiting awhile.
Lastly, I won’t even start on law review and the editing component. (If you thought law review was just writing and editing your own stuff, wrong. Part of the joy of law review is editing other notes, written by other people. The worst notes to edit of all…? Written none other than by the law professors themselves – NOT the law students. But I’ll stop right now on that rant.)
I’m. Not. Happy. About. This. (Can you tell?)
So–next time you editors-in-chief or review teams want to recruit me and my editing homies to review your stuff, I respectfully request you consider the following before asking us:
1. Pay us. I don’t even dig editing my own stuff – why would I edit someone else’s, ESPECIALLY if I’m going to get zero credit for it? If you can’t do cash, at a MINIMUM, offer up a copy of the book. I always give those who review my books a copy of the book. Otherwise – how can you review it properly? It costs next to nothing, and yet, a lot of the books I’ve chapter-reviewed, I’ve not been offered a copy of the book. Huh?!? Yup. If we’re talking review of a peer-reviewed-journal article, put a list of reviewers alphabetically at the end of each journal, or do it once at the end of the year as a thank you–or better yet, give us a subscription for editing so many article in exchange for our time. It’s called consideration – and I think the publishing world may have forgotten what this word means.
2. Thank us. It takes hours to review stuff and do it right. If you’re not going to pay us, at least thank us for throwing away the one finite thing we have on this Earth to do your work – our time. You need to include our reviews and/or names generically should we agree to review stuff for you, especially over a long period of time. While I hear that excuse coming of, “we can’t reveal our reviewers for anonymity and/or conflict of interest purposes,” spare me. I’d want to know whomever was reviewing my stuff was actually qualified to review it in the first place!
3. Offer to let us write instead as a thank you. If we are really the subject matter experts on something, why are you asking us to review, when we should instead be writing it in the first place? I’d rather spend time editing my own stuff than someone else’s, and if I’m the subject matter expert, I should be writing and editing my own stuff, period.
Look, I fully realize that professionals have a duty to help uplift their professions by peer-review and helping each other out. I get it. However, that doesn’t mean doing everything for free, especially hard, tedious, time-consuming work, especially with zero credit. Besides, if I loved editing, I’ve got an entire pile of editing to do on my own writing (and anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows that I have a LOT of editing work on my writing to do)!
I’m putting this out there because I think we’re doing our professions a disservice by not crediting those who step up to review and edit. It’s time to give credit where credit is due. Lastly, I’m ready to blame myself – shame on me for putting up with this, but I’m here to say that you all can officially hold me accountable. The next time I get asked to be a reviewer, I will ask in advance whether or not the review is paid, or at a minimum if I will receive credit for the review. That may sound selfish to some, but I don’t think a simple thank you or something in exchange of one’s time is unreasonable. Editing and reviewing are work, and work should be paid.