Palgrave Macmillan trials 'open review' on book proposals

Palgrave Macmillan is trialling an “open and transparent” peer review system for book proposals in the humanities and social sciences.

Selected proposals and sample chapters have been placed on a publicly accessible website, with comment invited from anyone who feels they can contribute to the development of the works in question.

The trial, which launched today (27th January) and will continue for six weeks, is the first such experiment of its kind.

On the website, Palgrave Macmillan explained: "We think that there may be benefits to a peer review process which requires greater accountability from reviewers, offers the possibility of additional perspectives, and has a greater focus on developing works and encouraging debate.

"Forms of open and interactive peer review are now widely used in science publishing, but are still rare in the humanities and the social sciences.  This will be the first trial to invite open comment on and review of scholarly book proposals, and the first to investigate how open peer review can contribute to the development of scholarly books at such an early stage in the writing process."

All works chosen for the trial have already been through the publisher's usual blind peer review process and have been accepted and contracted for publication. Palgrave Macmillan said: "We would emphasise that we are fully committed to publishing all works included in the trial: we have confidence in the quality of the books proposed, and intend that the focus be on enhancing them further."

The website said that "all constructive comment and criticism is welcomed" and the publisher hopes the site will provoke "lively discussion about the works under review and constructive advice on how books might be developed and improved."

Carrie Calder, director of market development, said: “We see this experiment as an opportunity to contribute to the emerging debate on opening up the closed peer review system, and increasing transparency in academic publishing.”

The works up for peer review include monograph proposals, one edited collection, and one proposal for a mid-length title to be published digitally in Palgrave Pivot.

The works which will be included in the experiment are: Creating Economic Growth: Lessons for Europe by Dr Marco Magnani at Harvard University, US; Asylum Seekers, Social Work and Racism, a Palgrave Pivot proposal by Dr Shepard Masocha at the University of Kent, UK; Serious Leisure and Self-Fulfilment by Professor Robert Stebbins, University of Calgary, Canada; Rosa Luxemburg: Theory of Accumulation and Imperialism by Tadeusz Kowalik, translated by Jan Toporowski and Hannah Szymborska, SOAS, University of London; Cuban Women and Salsa by Professor Delia Poey at Florida State University, US;  Race and the Brazilian Body by Professor Jennifer Roth-Gordon at the University of Arizona, US; Thinking through Digital Media by Dale Hudson at New York University, Abu Dhabi, UAE and Professor Patricia Zimmerman at Ithaca College, US; Embodiment and Horror Cinema by Professor Larrie Dudenhoeffer at Kennesaw State University, US; Digital Leisure, the Internet and Popular Culture by Professor Karl Spracklen at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK; and Intimacies, Critical Consumption and Diverse Economies, a collection edited by Dr Emma Casey at Kingston University, UK and Professor Yvette Taylor at London South Bank University, UK.