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Interview with an author – Peer Review Week

Berghahn Books has been a rigorous peer-reviewed press since its inception in 1994 and has always considered this essential both for assuring the quality and scholarship of our titles but also for providing insightful feedback for our authors to enable them to improve, refine and develop their work. Supporting early career academics is an important part of our mission and the constructive guidance that is offered by skilled peer reviewers can often be vital when developing a first publication. We extend our deepest appreciation to peer reviewers for their tireless commitment to ensuring the high quality of academic research in general and for the support and contribution they make to our publishing programme at Berghahn Books. 

Mark Stanton, Books Editorial Director 

To celebrate Peer Review Week, Berghahn Books coordinated several interviews with authors, series editors and journal editors to explore what their views of our process are and to thank our peer reviewers for the valuable work they do.

Interview with an author

  • How important do you think peer review is for academic publications and why? 

Peer review is essential in assuring the quality and credibility of academic publications and allowing for academic outputs to be refined, improved and enriched through dialogue with the wider scientific community and by experts in the specific field of study. 

  • How do you view the peer review process at Berghahn? 

The peer review process at Berghahn, in my experience, has been rigorous but simultaneously attentive and sympathetic, capable of understanding the specific challenges of the publication and looking for a broader range of peer reviewers to engage with diverse scientific standpoints and expertise.  

  • Did the peer review process lead to you improving your manuscript? How was it improved? 

The peer review process was crucial to reshape the manuscript to be of interest to a broader public and multiple disciplines while retaining its anthropological specificity. It allowed me to clarify its content, optimize and streamline its theoretical arguments, enrich its references, and be more rigorous and precise in the discussion of data and the methodological approach. Lastly, peer review dramatically improved my writing style as a non-native speaker, highlighting the need for a robust editing process. 

  • Did you find the process rewarding? Intimidating? Difficult? Inspiring? Collaborative? Please elaborate. 

The process was overall rewarding, even if difficult. I tried to welcome and think through the feedback reviewers gave constructively, without radically transforming the content and changing my analytical approach, but reflecting even on the most critical comments as an opportunity to improve the manuscript and make it less convoluted and jargon-prone and more straightforward in the arguments I wanted to make. 

  • Did you disagree with any of the comments made in the peer review process? If so, were your concerns acknowledged? 

I agreed with most of the comments my reviewers made, but I found a little unfair how certain comments pointed out language and editing issues as the central problem of the manuscript. As an early career and precarious researcher from a non-anglophone country and with limited access to funding, I could not afford to go through a process of thorough language editing before and after the peer review process, as it would have been too costly. Luckily, Berghahn editors were understanding and sensitive enough not to compromise the publication for this reason, allowing me to proceed with a robust editing in the post-peer review phase and seeking more feedback from other reviewers.