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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Peer review

This is how I review an article:
Report on XXXX

This article shows an impressive amount of research and is quite interesting. I would recommend a "revise and resubmit." The revisions, however, would have to be quite substantial, involving both organization and argumentation. I would recommend a shorter length: although it is below the maximum word-count, it could be much more concise, given that it is basically the analysis and contextualization of a single poem—a task that could be more efficiently accomplished in 6,000 words than in 9,000.

The author can eliminate or support some of the more speculative statements in the paper, detailed in the "specific recommendations" below. The constant recourse to probabilistic statements weakens the argument. What XXXX might have thought or done is less relevant than what he actually did. By relying less on speculation the author could define a stronger and more specific thesis about the relation between XXXX and YYYY. The analysis of the poem itself is excellent, but the contextualization includes a lot of material that is only tangentially related, or whose relevance is not transparent.

If I were writing an article about this subject I would bring in an analysis of ZZZZZZZ and of XXXXXX's response to WWWWW. That might be more relevant than some of the extra quotes by VVVVVV. I think the author could also comment a little more on the comparison between XXXXXX and LLLLL, perhaps citing MMMMM's work on LLLLL in relation to African rhythms. Also, the author could differentiate what he or she is doing from the work of BBBBB and CCCCC. The basic vision of XXXXX's cultural RRRRRR is similar to theirs.

Some specific recommendations.

p. 1: By placing "title of poem" last in Title of Book of Poems the poet is giving it an emphatic position. The idea that this position "belies its importance," then, might not be the strongest point to make.

p. 4: The argument that XXXXX was thinking about the diversity of peninsular immigrants to [Latin American Country] needs to be supported in some way.

p. 6, bottom of page. TITLE OF BOOK was unpublished, but in what sense was it "incomplete"?

p. 7: "enjoyed on this superficial level." I would drop this phrasing. The poem can be enjoyed on a variety of levels.

p. 7-9: The text poem does not need to be italicized.

p. 10: The idea that the five syllable phrase "five syllable phrase" mirrors the [name of genre of song] needs to be better supported. Does the phrase actually mimic the rhythm? Syllables are not really "beats." For that matter, the [name of genre] itself consists of five notes, not five beats.

p. 13: It is not clear why the later [adjective] interpretation of YY is relevant to XXXX.

pp. 21 et passim: Did XXXX read OOO's descriptions of DDDD dance? This part of the paper is interesting in its own right but not directly relevant.

p. 25: Find more evidence that the publication of IIIII was inspired by XXX's visit to YYYY. The point is too speculative.

p. 28: The fact that there were few changes to the ms. of IIIIIII undermines the point that XXXX revisited this book before publishing it.

p. 30: "he might have considered adding to this section..." In fact, he didn't add more to this section. The argument here is too speculative.

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