Selecting Reviewers

Next year, I’ll be thinking about dealing with challenges like finding the argument and narrative of my book while I code and transcribe field notes. Right now, what is taking up my attention is an article I’m about to submit as part of a cluster of articles that I’m co-editing. The article I’m working on is really conceptual and more than a little edgy. So edgy that I’m having a hard time thinking of 3-4 names of reviewers to give the journal. Selecting reviewers is easy when I write ethnographic articles, because I usually will select people whose research interest has some commonality with mine, be it thematic (mental health) or regional (Maya studies, Yucatan). But this article is giving me a run for my money. There is one scholar I engage with pretty directly in the article, so this scholar is certainly on the list, but who else?

This really isn’t exactly an “advice” post as much as a “thinking out loud” post. This conceptual article has a little bit of ethnography, but its argument is theoretical. The problem is that what I am proposing is not something that is really being written a whole lot about. I think that’s one of the strengths of the article, but also a big weakness in terms of getting it reviewed. In looking over my bibliography, many of the names belong to people who are dead,  some belong to people I’m critiquing. In making this decision, I’m thinking about 1) who I am engaging with directly in the piece, 2) who I am engaging peripherally in the piece, and 3) who I don’t engage at all, but may find the piece engaging nonetheless. Of course I would like the reviewers to like the article and recommend it for publication, but I also see this as a good opportunity for valuable comments and feedback. In my experience, there is usually a lot of work to be done after the first submission, regardless of whether the article is rejected or r & r’d (revise & resubmit). Since this article is part of a cluster, the role the paper plays vis à vis the other articles may be a good idea to point out in the cover letter. Maybe in a couple of days I’ll post a blog about that, since Belcher’s book has really helped me draft successful query and article cover letters in the past.

Meantime, I’ll continue thinking about those reviewers…

The peer review process often feels like this...

The peer review process often feels like this…



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