Procedural Equity and Peer Review

Procedural Equity and Peer Review

Adeline Koh has written an important blog post on the importance of clarity and transparency on the processes for peer review. The full posting is here: http://www.adelinekoh.org/blog/2013/08/29/journalofdigitalhumanitie/

The full posting and comments are important reading as we think about and discuss the values of and goals for peer review, as well as ways to improve peer review.  This situation emphasizes the importance of procedural equity or procedural justice:

Procedural justice is defined as the fairness of the processes that lead to outcomes. When individuals feel that they have a voice in the process or that the process involves characteristics such as consistency, accuracy, ethicality, and lack of bias then procedural justice is enhanced (Leventhal, 1980). (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_justice#Procedural_justice)

For a far more minor example, as a reviewer for different peer reviewed publications and as an academic overall, I take issue with blind peer review because it often gives a false sense of objectivity. The issues with blind versus non-blind peer review are minor compared to changing and undefined process. Processes that are undefined and in flux are infinitely flexible, but that flexibility comes at an unacceptable cost when it compromises or otherwise substantively impacts the capacity for procedural equity.  Thanks to Adeline Koh and others who contributed to the blog posting for sharing about their experience, opening this important discussion, and supporting conversations necessary to ensuring that new forms of peer review support the values and mission of the end results as well as the processes themselves.


Attribution and resource note added on 7 Sept. 2013 at 1:07PM:

When I initially wrote this post, I planned to link to my colleague, Brian W. Keith, Associate Dean for Administrative Services & Faculty Affairs in the UF Libraries. I couldn’t find a great web presence to link for him. I asked him about where to link, and he didn’t have much of a web presence at the time. Yet, in addition to being an expert on processes, organizational management, equity, and so much more, and in addition to being a great colleague and person who thinks and cares deeply about issues of equity and justice, he’s also always supportive of colleagues and he quickly updated his LinkedIn, and created a basic profile on Academia.edu and Google Profile. I’m linking these here and posting this long note for several reasons. My work and thinking has been and continues to be greatly enriched and expanded by working with Brian.  This note is to give Brian proper attribution for this post because he taught me about the formal concepts of procedural equity and justice. This note also serves to  remind that people with exceptional knowledge come from so many different backgrounds, or backgrounds different from mine, like Brian (MBA, with vast knowledge on HR, Organizational Development, Types of Equity in Processes and Institutions, American Literature, and more). People like Brian are in our institutions and are potential collaborators, colleagues, and friends. This note will hopefully help others in finding and connecting to parallel people at other institutions.

Also, Brian is always working  to document and share his knowledge widely, so there’s lots available for interested folks. He’s shared and/or mentioned in around 30 documents that are openly online and available in the IR@UF that cover equity. In some of these, Brian presents the theory and ethics for equity within institutions and  works it through for hiring and compensation models, complete with example spreadsheets and so much underlying rigorous data analysis. This is all awesome for me because I wouldn’t have known where to start without this working through. This super-detail is great for me to see and learn, and hopefully will be for others as well.