What do you do with unfair or less than constructive criticism of your academic work? Let’s fix peer review!
We all know, some people are jerks, many academics among them, and that some folks use the anonymous system of peer-review in order to act however they like without the responsibility or accountability that goes with face-to-face or self-identifying criticism.
To me, this is just part of the job, or, at least, I tell myself that. However, while it is most certainly just part of the contemporary academic landscape, it still irks me — every time.
It is the worst when your realize that the reviewer simply does not “get” the point. Slightly less bad, but no less forgivable: the reviewer has not looked closely enough at your work, and, as they gloss over the details, you realize from their comments that their “this is unclear” or “this is inappropriate” is really just a sign that they have not read your previous commentary that explains it 8 or 9 lines ago.
Worse than all of this, however, is that editors rarely — at least, in my experience — take this into account when making a judgment on a paper. On rare occasions, a reviewer might be suppressed, but usually the editor just acts like some sort of conduit, relegating all responsibility in the process.
Has such an appeal to the unfairness of a reviewer worked for anybody?
Is this a sign of a deeper problem in higher education?
At any rate, what do you do with unfair criticism?