Description of the topic: This work examines the role of peer review in the improvement and validation of knowledge in the social sciences and humanities (SSH). It explores the conceptual basis of peer review in the STEM and exploresits transferal to the SSH. It argues that peer review of manuscripts, as a formalised (ritualised) process, evolved in a STEM paradigm to meet STEM priorities (during the cold-war expansion of research) and explores the extent to which those priorities are shared within SSH disciplines. We hence conceptualise peer review as an act of boundary-work found necessary to demarcate scientific knowledge, which required the historical formalisation of a reviewer function. Methodologically, we deploy a historical as well as a practice-oriented approach. We argue by way of historical reconstruction that the peer review process is an artefact, which developed on a STEM-model of how to do research and eventually became reified in SSH. Inspired by Knorr Cetina’s (1999) work on “epistemic cultures”, the article next goes on to spell out epistemological and practical differences between SSH and STEM in general terms. To conclude the theoretical part, we spell out conceptual and methodological differences between SSH and STEM to understand what counts as good research in various fields and how this figures into the peer review process. Through this exploration and questioning the nature of SSH in contrast to STEM, we question the suitability of a STEM-size-fits-all approach to scholarly peer review, in particular to the SSH. Re-constructing peer review as a social and historical artefact will thereby highlight ways in which peer review in SSH could and should differ when compared to that in other subjects.
Objectives: The STSM aims to further the understanding peer review practices in the SSH. It contributes directly to the analysis of quality representations and assumptions intervening in peer review processes (Task 2 of WG1) and in observing national (and international) regulations/recommendations/procedures for research evaluation in the SSH (Task 3 of WG1); It is an important and integral part of the deliverable “An overview of peer review practices,” due at the end of GP3.
Special criteria for this STSM: The applicant should have knowledge on peer-review practices and experiences in conducting systematic literature reviews.
Results:The proposed STSM will provide an overview of practices of peer review in the SSH and presents issues and open questions. Through this exploration and questioning the nature of SSH in contrast to STEM, we question the suitability of a STEM-size-fits-all approach to scholarly peer review, in particular to the SSH. Re-constructing peer review as a social and historical artefact will thereby highlight ways in which peer review in SSH could and should differ when compared to that in other subjects.
- Working group: WG1 (Conceptual frameworks for SSH research evaluation)
- Duration and timing: between 2 weeks and 1 month from 1st to 28thof February 2019
- Location: Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
- Contact: Gemma Derrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)