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An academic review system that does not value the quality of the dissertation will not bring real academic progress
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I did not publish any articles during my PhD in history at Columbia University, neither in Chinese or English. Whether I can graduate or obtain a PhD is not related to the publication of articles. Although the requirements for a doctoral degree vary from school to school, the humanities do not generally require doctoral students to publish articles. Whether the tutor encourages students to publish articles also varies from person to person.
As a scholar and teacher, I have always been in the peer review and peer review. The importance of this review chain to personal growth and the ecology of the academic world is beyond doubt. Here I mainly take the classical studies I personally take as an example to talk about peer review in the American academic world.
Most of them are two-way blind review peer review in various forms. My main participation is reviewing manuscripts for magazines or publishers, reviewing applications for research projects, and selecting abstracts for conferences. These require formal written responses from reviewers or reviewers.
Most of these reviews are two-way blind reviews, which means that the reviewer and the reviewee do not know each other's name and identity. But not all reviewers must be blind reviews. For example, a book I reviewed, the publisher clearly informed the author's name. Even national project applications sometimes tell the applicant's name and identity. Whether blind review or not, reviewers should try their best to be objective, unbiased, and essays, and the opinions given should only be directed to the level and quality of the manuscript and not to the author itself. The identity, status, and achievements of the author cannot be factors that influence the judgement.
The key to peer review is to judge whether the article or monograph has researched on a certain issue and whether it has made new contributions to the subject itself. Except for articles of a general nature, an article that merely reiterates the predecessors' comments without advancement has no publishing value. When judging an article, the entirety and details of the article must be carefully considered: whether there are missing critical or important bibliographies in the reference, and if there are omissions, the author's grasp of academic history is incomplete or even large. Defects; whether the argument of the article supports the argument. For example, if the argument shows a phenomenon of the early Roman Empire, but the only evidence is a papyrus from the 5th century AD, then the persuasiveness of the argument will be greatly reduced. In addition, since the academic works of classical studies necessarily involve the translation of classical documents, the accuracy of translations is also an important part of consideration.
External review of academic publishing As far as academic books are concerned, the external review is invited by the publishing house, and the number is not necessarily odd. For example, a collection of papers I participated in was first submitted to Oxford University Press, which invited two scholars to review them. However, the opinions of the two reviewers were very different. One said that the method of the book was backward and the chapters conflicted with each other. The other praised the manuscript for being at the forefront of research. In the case of such a balanced opinion, the decision is left to the publishing house. It can ask experts to prove it, or it can choose not to take risks. Oxford University Press chose to reject the manuscript we submitted. But this does not mean that this manuscript must be lost, the three editors decided to switch to Brill. The external review experts invited by Borui quickly gave very positive opinions, and the book was finally published in Borui.
A few years ago I was invited to write a monograph on the social and cultural history of the Roman Empire for Wiley-Blackwell, but receiving the invitation does not mean that no external review process is required. I still need to submit a thesis and list the framework of the book, including Chapters and their abstracts discuss other existing similar works and demonstrate why this new work is necessary for publication. After the publisher received the proposal, six experts were invited for review. The feedback is very positive, very detailed and professional, and people have to be moved.
Will the external audit be black boxed?
Publishers, journals, and academic funds all encourage judges to provide constructive criticism. Writing weighty and persuasive academic opinions is time consuming and laborious, but it is generally unpaid as a reviewer. The only remuneration I've received was a few books from the publisher that the publisher gave away. However, few people are perfunctory.
Being invited to serve as a reviewer is first of all to recognize the academic standards of the invitee, which is an honor, and also allows the reviewer to see the academic development in advance. More importantly, this is a very important academic service and an important mechanism for maintaining a virtuous academic circle. Everyone has a responsibility to maintain a good academic ecology. Will there be any unfair review?
It is possible to encounter harsh reviews, but it is almost impossible for particularly bad articles to be published due to black box operations. In terms of my personal experience as a reviewee and reviewer, I have not felt that I have been treated unfairly, and I have not treated the manuscripts I want to review hastily. This is not to say that every time I submit or apply for a project, it must be successful, but even an unsuccessful application has its meaning. For example, I applied for the National Humanities Fund of the United States in 2007. This is a highly competitive national-level project fund, and the application success rate is very low. The unsuccessful application was not unexpected, but the gain was still considerable. Five judges provided written feedback on my application. These comments were generally not sent directly to the applicant, and the applicant only knew the results. However, applicants can ask the National Humanities Fund for their comments. These comments analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of my research plan, method, and meaning from all aspects. Based on these comments, I continue to enrich and strengthen the research plan. The revised version of the proposal was very successful in various project applications in the following years.
Book review is an important part of peer review. Peer review does not end with the successful application of a project or the publication of a book. Book review is another important part of peer review. Many academic journals have a "Book Review" section. The journal first selects and invites scholars who are qualified to write a book review. Not all invited scholars will accept the invitation, depending on the situation. There are also scholars who self-recommended to write a book review for a new book, but the journal may not always accept it. Of the few book reviews I have written myself, only one is a review of the "Bryn Mawr Classical Review", which I requested to write.
A book that later became a must-read book generally had many book reviews that year. These book reviews are not necessarily positive. It's not uncommon for different book reviews to differ in focus and overall opinion. Works that have been sharply criticized are not necessarily destined to be eliminated in the future. For example, the early writings of Professor Michael Putnam, the godfather of the "pessimist school" of the ancient Roman poet Virgil, have been ruthlessly attacked.
In my own experience, the tension of waiting for a book review after the publication of the first monograph is still fresh in my memory. Book reviews are a good sign that the monograph has attracted the attention of the academic community. No book review is even more stressful. Fortunately, my monographs have book reviews in multiple languages (Italian, French, German, Japanese, English), as well as several Chinese reviews. Italian book reviews have little criticism of the book's content, but list a lot of spelling mistakes. These overall evaluations are positive. Among them, the long-term French book review published by Robert Duthoy, a retired professor at the University of Ghent in Belgium, published in Latomus, an important international journal of classical studies, called the work "a model study, and its research results are very important. ". My book seems to be more accepted in French academic circles, which is probably related to this book review.
Gender and ethnicity are not the decisive factors. For the humanities, the importance of the first monograph is self-evident. It is the root of new scholars in academia, and also in universities, especially research universities. Basic requirements for tenure (the so-called tenure). Of course, not all disciplines focus on monographs. In some disciplines, especially science and engineering, articles are more important than books. So what's the relationship between publishing and job search and title evaluation?
The most basic principle of recruitment in the United States is not to discriminate candidates based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, marital status, etc. In order to avoid any lawsuits, some questions cannot be asked during interviews, or have no legal loopholes. Ways to ask, for example, when we interview candidates, we will not ask "what is your mother tongue", but you can ask "how many languages do you speak". As far as my personal experience and recruitment are concerned, I don't think these are decisive considerations.
But there are always special circumstances, and these factors are indeed considered when the research level of the applicants is comparable. For example, if there are too many male professors in a department, it is possible to consciously correct this serious gender disparity. The school I worked for in recent years has been committed to changing the situation of teachers and student groups that are too "white", too local, and concentrated in the upper middle class to encourage diversity.
But it must be pointed out that each school has strict procedures for recruiting people. The decisive factors are academic and teaching quality, and development potential. Personality is also an important factor, because recruiting a new teacher, that is, recruiting your future colleagues, the recruitment team will try to avoid particularly difficult colleagues, of course, this is just an unwritten approach, and short interviews are sometimes very difficult Difficult to judge character. As a doctoral student who is interested in faculty, it is very important to improve yourself technically and theoretically, do a good job in academics, strengthen oral expression, and be a positive person. Others are relatively minor.
Doctoral students generally do not have the compulsory requirement to publish articles. When applying for junior faculty positions (that is, assistant professor-level positions), it is not a decisive factor. Even if the applicant has a published article, whether it can be converted into a bonus factor depends on its quality. Some recruitments are for scholars who already have academic status. The nature and quantity of publications are naturally very important in this kind of digging recruitment. So how to measure "quality" and "quantity"?
I did not publish any articles during my PhD in history at Columbia University, neither in Chinese or English. Whether I can graduate or obtain a PhD is not related to the publication of articles. Although the requirements for a doctoral degree vary from school to school, the humanities do not generally require doctoral students to publish articles. Whether the tutor encourages students to publish articles also varies from person to person.
The European and American classical doctoral programs operate differently, because European classical students start relatively early, and the language level can reach a relatively high level in the middle school and university stages, so the doctoral stage basically focuses on writing doctoral thesis. The Ph.D. in the American classical department is relatively long, and some research institutes have curriculum requirements. Generally speaking, there are not too many, and you can complete it. You must pass the language test. The ancient Greek and Latin translation test cannot be bypassed. Yes, the requirements for modern academic languages vary from school to school, but written tests in French, German, and Italian are generally required. The classical department of Columbia does not require written tests in Italian, but it is assumed that doctoral candidates can read Italian. Ph.D. students in the classical department (especially those focusing on Latin literature and Roman history) have a strong ability in Italian. This is also true. Although I have not taken a written test of Italian translation, my ability to read and speak Italian is much better than German; language After passing the exam, you can get the qualification to take a professional oral or written test. This requires high-intensity reading to achieve a good grasp of academic history. Personally, I think this is a very important part of the academic training of doctoral students. After passing the oral or written test, doctoral students Obtained ABD (All But Dissertation) qualification for doctoral candidates, so-called everything, only the doctoral dissertation; there is theoretically no limit on the length of the doctoral dissertation phase, and some research institutes have a thesis defense, but not all The institutes all have requirements for this. The final step is to write a doctoral dissertation that meets the academic standards expected by academic committees. Not all research institutes require a defense. Supervisor training a PhD is to train future academic colleagues. It is a rigorous process. At each stage, students may choose to voluntarily withdraw, fail to pass the qualification exam, or write a doctoral dissertation for a long time. Being able to obtain a Ph.D. can already be regarded as a preliminary examination within the discipline.
There are various types of universities in the United States, with different sizes, purposes, funding sources, and so on. The requirements for teaching, scientific research, and service of the teacher group are also different, and the standards for recruitment and title evaluation are also different. But regardless of the type of school, to obtain a tenure, you must first obtain a tenure-track (or tenure-track) position. The United States does not have the requirements for habilitation as in some countries in continental Europe. The United States is eligible to apply for faculty as long as it graduates with a doctoral degree. Some graduates have not even graduated with a doctoral degree. It is also possible for a person to obtain a pre-service tenure.
The number of articles is generally not mandatory. The Assistant Professor who newly entered tenure-track did have a lot of pressure in the first six years, and teaching needs investment. In addition, as mentioned earlier, in terms of humanities, research universities generally require There is a monograph recognized by peers. Universities that value research more demand higher standards for monographs. Then there is the question of who defines the level. This still relies heavily on peer review.
For example, the review of a tenured position in the Department of Classics at Boston University requires the opinions of 25 foreign and domestic reviewers. Most schools don't need so many external audits, and some schools don't even need external audits at all. The opinions of scholars in their own schools can be used as a reference for the resolution. The assessed teacher can nominate several scholars who cannot serve as external reviewers. This is mainly to avoid situations that may lead to malicious reviews due to personal disputes or other reasons.
In addition to monographs, the number of articles is rarely rigid, usually one journal article per year is not small. Because classical science is an ancient subject, there are not a few academic journals with a long history, and most journals have a high degree of recognition in the discipline. Of course, some journals have more recognition than others. For example, the Journal of Roman Studies is particularly well-known in the field of Roman studies.
The assessment of tenured faculty generally requires two levels: department-level review and school-level review. The department-level review team is composed of teachers who have tenure. After carefully reading the review materials submitted by the reviewees and referring to the external review, a written report and review results are formed and reported to the school-level review team. The school-level review team may not be composed of experts in the discipline. It may come from different departments of the school. The number of students varies from school to school. However, it is not a rubber stamp. Theoretically, the principal or dean (Provost) is the final step of the review. I once had two foreign school colleagues rejected by their respective principals or deans, but this situation is not easy to occur.
Under normal circumstances, tenure and promotion of associate professor are carried out at the same time, with the exception of very few schools, such as Harvard University. The reviewee may be able to be promoted to associate professor, but may not be able to obtain tenure at the same time. If tenure is not available, the appraisers may need to find another job sooner or later. The tenure of a research-type university (R1) is indeed not easy to obtain, but the success rate varies from school to school. In terms of the classical department, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia have far lower success rates than the University of California, Berkeley. The low success rate of tenured faculty assessments is caused by various reasons, such as large divisions within the department, support for new teachers, and conceptual issues in training new teachers, etc., which does not indicate that the latter's teacher level is higher than the top three Low schools. The low long-term success rate will cause some very bad consequences. For example, it is difficult to attract outstanding young scholars, which will also affect the stability of the department, discipline construction, and student training.
Teachers who obtain tenure are indeed protected. This protection is multifaceted. In addition to being a good guarantee of freedom of speech (academic, school, etc.), teachers can better protect their research time. It is not necessary to often agree to participate in something that has little to do with your own teaching and research in order to avoid offending colleagues. In addition, tenure can also give teachers the conditions for slow work. Although Professor Ping Zheng is also related, it is far less relevant than tenure. Maybe some teachers choose a life with a slower pace after gaining tenure, but the previous selection generally selected people who love the industry, are loyal to their disciplines, and enjoy their profession. The scholars cultivated and selected step by step will not be abandoning academics. It should also be mentioned here that the number of PhDs produced in the humanities each year far exceeds the "track" of freshman tenure that year, and the competition is quite fierce. Of course, it is fortunate to be able to do it in one step. The vast majority of those who have not been able to enter the "track" of tenure in one step are still an important force in the discipline.
The above are some simple observations and summaries of my peer review of American liberal arts. My observation focuses on classical studies, and the evaluation systems of other branches of the humanities are similar. Subtle differences certainly exist. For example, in the English department, some teachers focus on literary studies, while others focus on creation. The author's output is literary works such as poetry, novels, and so on.
From this point of view, the establishment of an evaluation system needs to fully consider the characteristics of various disciplines, and can not be a one-size-fits-all or self-sufficient. However, whether it is humanities, social sciences, medicine or science and engineering, peer review is an extremely important mechanism and link. The purpose of review is to promote the virtuous circle and progress of the entire discipline. As a researcher, it is basic professional ethics to understand the evaluation system of your own discipline and maintain its difficult authority. At the same time, we also need to understand the evaluation systems of other disciplines. In this aspect, we can continuously improve and improve our own discipline system, strive for the greatest resources for our disciplines, and on the other hand, promote interdisciplinary exchanges.

Source: http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/UQYmuuarExxkp_kuTpFhkQ


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