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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Are My Standards Too High?

I wonder, after rejecting an article this morning (again), if my standards are just too high. I'm not saying I should accept everything, but I am getting a bit tired of being so much more exigent than most other people. It is very exhausting and frustrating to expect scholars to live up to my expectations. I dream of a Lorca criticism that is up to the standard of Lorca himself, that treats him seriously and with theoretical aplomb. Is this too much to ask? With Lorca I have a huge problem, since my standard is even higher and scholarship on Lorca, when it's bad, is very, very bad.


Clarissa said...

It's better to have standards that are too high. We are not doing any favors to our discipline by lowering our standards for any reason.

Thomas said...

The standards of a field are a sort of aggregate of reviewers who "pull up" and others who "pull down". Sometimes (I would think) you'll recommend rejecting a paper that will get published anyway, perhaps in a journal of lesser repute that doesn't ask you for your opinion. (But sometimes it'll just be two reviewers against you and the editor will decide to publish against your advice.) That's perfectly fine. Until your editors stop sending you work to review, you're just holding up your end.

As for how it makes you feel: you probably don't have this option, but I generally say that if you lose respect for the quality of the scholarship that is being done in your field you should reflect on the "exit or voice" issue. Can the standards be raised by explicitly raising them in the literature, i.e., by writing papers about the poor quality of the scholarship? Or will you simply have to find some other field of scholarship in which the standards are higher and the work, therefore, is less frustrating.

For you to leave "Lorca criticism" would of course be absurd, or perhaps just tragic. Then again, maybe I'll soon have established a beach-head in philosophy where your ideas and, importantly, your standards would be appreciated.