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Monday, April 29, 2013

Peer Review Or World View?


I read another message touting peer review as a benefit. Umm, maybe.

My experience with peer review is that it is often a closed, self-congratulatory model from a closed, self-congratulatory society about work that is destined to go into the stacks.

We need better.

At one point I led sixty top writers in a production environment. We had immediate deadlines and developed a creative review process to improve our quality.

I learned that junior reviewers would upend a mess of personal issues and concerns to create an edit package that couldn’t be implemented. The better reviewers would identify the one change that everyone agreed made all the difference.


Excellent review is a craft that doesn’t come with elevation. 

Review is quite different from creation.

In evaluating management performance, it’s harder to improve someone who is doing things right. Although we have observed managers feel a need.

Anyone who has ever authored a proposal to the government and then taken it through review has seen how review teams don’t even know the proposal’s objectives, yet have strident and emotional demands.

Will they improve the proposal? Why do you ask?

My teachers in the Pentagon call it, “Changing small dog to puppy.” And they are masters at accepting review, because in review, too often they’re not about making something better, they’re about getting through with minimum damage, in a process that hasn’t been defined for generations.

Once upon a time paper was expensive, print runs were short, and people read scholarly publications. Now, not so much.

Technology has disintermediated publishing businesses, and getting the message to more of the people who can use it may be more important than getting published.

I read a lot of good technical writing. I also read a fair amount of bad technical writing, although not by choice.

Much as I enjoy TED, LifeHacker, or Open Culture, as places that get new knowledge out to the masses, my go-to source for learning is Wikipedia. Even when I disagree, they have a massive amount of links to get to usable information.

Peer review? Better to get World View.

Tips 4 The Big Chair – Perspective 2.0
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