Better to fellate Leicester than bugger the planet?

Evidenced by a lack of journal papers and an absence of conference streams we detect an unhealthy lack of interest within mainstream, functional and critical, organisation studies on Anthropogenic Global Warming.
Our attempt, in response to a call for papers in ‘Organization’, to draw attention to this met not with a measured response to our argument but with a flurry of personal abuse (see Leicester Research Archive http://hdl.handle.net/2381/27632 ). We were accused by one reviewer, inter alia, of using ‘cut’n’pastes from Wikipedia and a few half-understood papers’, of ‘ wannabee scholasticism’ and then of ‘casually fellating’ CPPE. Naturally, no justification for making such claims was provided. This reviewer, although carefully remaining anonymous, also thought that our paper was ‘a potent argument AGAINST double-blind review’ and that the authors ‘should be named and shamed’. Amazingly, this review had already been redacted by the editors! Another reviewer implied that we were racist, again without any evidence being adduced. Invective like this is, clearly, a subversion of the idea of peer review.
Such a response, reviewing the authors rather than the argument, is disturbing in any circumstances, but particularly when seen in the context of the imminent and irreversible threat posed by global warming. Is it perhaps a manifestation of the general state of denial that surrounds the topic? However, it also raises an interesting question as to what constitutes peer-review.
Peer-review connotes a relationship of equals and does not sanction unaccountable abuse of power. If a paper is sent out for review, (an editorial decision, not an authorial one), it could be assumed, prime facie, that it has some potential. We should also be able to assume, minimally, that any assessment of the paper by reviewer should bear some relation to the content, or lack of it, of the paper. Reviews should not comprise wild and unsubstantiated accusations impugning the character of the authors. Apart from being unethical and unprofessional, it is also potentially damaging to authors, who, additionally, have no right of reply. What are we to understand of reviewers who, immune from any scrutiny, aim to do damage to authors with whom they disagree? What price collegiality? What price knowledge? We also need to question the editorial role in this respect. No doubt choleric and dyspeptic reviewers are a fact of life, but these bilious reviews carried the imprimatur of the editorial team. This appears to suggest something beyond the rational and unimpassioned assessment of a text.
If peer-review is about the facilitation of new knowledge production, about the quest for wisdom and truth, where does attacking the messenger rather than the message fit in do this expectation? Or is it that peer-review has become part of the now prevalent dog-eat-dog competitive culture?
Norman Jackson and Pippa Carter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *