yourlibrarian: Buffy on the phone (BUF-WorkingGirl: eyesthatslay)
[personal profile] yourlibrarian posting in [community profile] sim_studies
A classmate passed on a link to the Chronicle of Higher Education's brief write-up of a study done by Noah Wardrip-Fruin, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He ran an experiment with his latest academic book comparing the peer review provided to his book on a public blog compared to the peer review commissioned by his publisher. His results were, I thought, unsurprising (although good to have some evidence for). "Blog commenters tended to focus on discrete paragraphs and points, and rarely compared ideas in one chapter to those later in the work. But the blog readers offered more detailed input than the anonymous reviewers solicited by the press."

I say I found it unsurprising because it's what I would expect in terms of people's motivations to contribute. I have been a reviewer myself for some years now, and the nature of the work affects my response. While the material I am asked to read and review is both short and in areas where I have some interest and experience, I can't anticipate the review requests arriving. Also, some articles are more interesting than others. I find I always have more to say if I am very engaged with the material, and if I have the time for that engagement. Regardless of my interest though, it is my (unpaid) job to respond in a cogent and responsible manner, and I owe my attention to the author in a way I wouldn't if I was just reading someone's blog.

Similarly if I am commenting on something in fandom, for example, I am doing it on my own time as a result of my own interest, but I will likely not be reviewing something of novel length. In fact even when I'm reading (and enjoying) a novel length fanfic, I am not making note of everything that struck me as I went along, and my feedback at the end tends to be rather overarching than specific. To read and peer review a whole book is a substantial investment of time and I don't know that someone doing it for their interest alone could be expected to do the same. Then again beta readers do provide this service, although what they do can either be much more or much less than what a peer reviewer does, depending on the beta and author.

But maybe that's just too much of my own perspective. And it seems to me this forum is just the place to ask whether or not people with an interest versus people who have less intense of an interest but more of a professional concern, are likely to provide similar sorts of reviews on a work?


Social Informatics and Media Studies

April 2010

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