Anonymous Peer Review: “An Inherently Conservative Procedure”
On the topic of anonymity, I should also note that I am deeply convinced by the point that anonymous review is a privilege afforded only to work in mainstream areas of philosophy, written in a conventional voice, and hence it is an inherently conservative procedure.
Those are the words of Rebecca Kukla (Georgetown), editor-in-chief of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, in a post at the Blog of the APA, where she writes about practices the journal has instituted that have contributed to improving and diversifying the journal.
Perhaps most contentiously, we have resisted the trend towards triple anonymous review. Because of my broad commitment to standpoint epistemology, I believe that knowing who wrote a piece is often important to assessing the value and meaning of what it says. I also want to be able to take extra care to mentor papers by scholars from marginalized groups, if they have potential but are not yet ready for publication. Given our roughly 85% rejection rate, many potentially excellent papers, including those by marginalized scholars, will simply get cut unless I go out of my way to recognize their potential and make sure they get good feedback and a chance to resubmit. While we do use a double-anonymous review system, my knowledge of who wrote a paper helps me contextualize the reviews it receives. Furthermore, my knowledge of the authors of our submissions has helped me to include more work by non-Anglophone scholars: Before either desk rejecting an awkwardly written paper or sending it out for anonymous review, I will often contact non-Anglophone author and ask them to resubmit it after getting help with proofreading and idiom from an Anglophone colleague.
On the topic of anonymity, I should also note that I am deeply convinced by the point that anonymous review is a privilege afforded only to work in mainstream areas of philosophy, written in a conventional voice, and hence it is an inherently conservative procedure. As Shay Welch pointed out eloquently at our APA panel this past spring, philosophers who work on marginalized topics or who have a distinctive voice or writing style really cannot receive anonymous review. Everyone qualified to review their work will already be able to tell or at least make a strong guess about their identity. So the idea that anonymous review levels differences and removes biases is a myth. Given that many of us take it for granted that formally and procedurally equal treatment tends to benefit the privileged rather than to promote genuine equality of access, it surprises me how many philosophers accept without question that more anonymity in the review process automatically promotes justice.
You can read the rest of the post, and comment on it, here.