Editors' Note

Date01 March 2018
Published date01 March 2018
Editors’ Note
It can be challenging to line up the right peer reviewers for a
manuscript. Reviewers benefit by getting an early sense of the
work that is out, but that is a diffuse benefit. The most reliable
reviewers are often those with multiple requests and reviewing
while doing all the other work our jobs require is often a chal-
lenge. Peer review journals like Law and Society Review depend on
the generosity of a large and varied community of potential
reviewers. Editorial frustration can build around the occasional
manuscript that requires two-dozen requests to get three reviews.
But, the review process always improves a manuscript, sometimes
considerably. The reviewers and editors put time and thought
into the comments authors receive; it is a form of community ser-
vice we do for, and that we rely on from, our colleagues.
Increasingly, the institution of peer reviewing has come
under examination. As gatekeeper to elite academic journals,
peer review marks out articles that end up as “heftier” entries in
a resume. Peer review can also function to constrain the canon:
novel arguments and emergent scholarship can be tougher to get
through the peer review process. The double-blind process has
protections against a few types of bias, but not all. Our challenge
as editors is to extend both the reach and the variety of law and
society scholarship while maintaining disciplinary rigor and
ATimes Higher Education article (Matthews, 2016) argues that
the peer review system “is coming apart at the seams.” According
to the article, increasing numbers of papers submitted and of
journal types add new strains to the system. Should peer review
practices change? Should existing journals, say, move to paying
referees for their work? If this ends of up happening, will we see
the evolution of different communities of publishing—some jour-
nals that pay for review and others that continue to rely on vol-
unteer academic labor? These questions are not surprising. With
open access and online paper repositories, academic publishing is
changing and the demands of peer review are correspondingly
Law & Society Review, Volume 52, Number 1 (2018)
C2018 Law and Society Association. All rights reserved.

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