Interpreter Peer Reviewed

Interpreter Peer Reviewed

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Interpreter as a "peer-reviewed journal"

At the end of their presentation at JWHA, Roper and Fields listed their "peer-reviewed journal" articles. The list consisted of their three reviews of the first edition of Lost City of Zarahemla.

To get an idea of the quality of the "peer review" process at the Interpreter, none of the supposed peer reviewers noticed that Roper/Fields got the name of the author of the book wrong.

That's like writing a review of a book by Dan Peterson and calling him Donald Peterson.

Maybe that's a relatively minor detail. However, I can't think of an article in an actual peer-reviewed journal that erred in identifying the name of the author of a book being reviewed. An authentic peer-review process catches factual errors such as this.

This error--and there were plenty more substantive errors that I pointed out in my reviews of those articles--is representative not only of the poor quality of the Roper/Fields articles, but of the peer review process at the Interpreter.

I started this blog to point out some of the errors in Interpreter articles that any legitimate peer-reviewed process would have caught. I had hoped to encourage--or provoke--the Interpreter so the editors would engage in a true peer-review process. Now I wonder what kind of errors it will take before the Interpreter engages in true peer review.

To be sure, I haven't seen the quality of the submissions. It is possible that the Roper/Fields papers and the other articles I've commented on were so bad upon submission that the Interpreter's peer review process improved them to the level at which they were published; i.e., as published, the articles are at least better than they were when submitted.  

Another possibility is that the Interpreter's concept of "peer review" focuses on message, not facts and rational argument. I think this is the most likely explanation for the errors one finds when reading material published by the Interpreter. You can be sure to get a particular, editor-approved point of view. You just can't be sure to get reliable facts and rational argument.

But that was true of FARMS as well, of course.

At FARMS, no amount of constructive criticism deterred the authors and editors from making unforced errors. Criticizing the old FARMS/Maxwell Institute publications is like shooting fish in a barrel. The Interpreter seems intent on perpetuating that heritage.

It's unfortunate, really .As I've written, I enjoy much of what the Interpreter publishes. I think it serves a useful role as an outlet for authors. The quality of the material varies considerably by author; some is excellent, some not so much. That's all fine and doesn't undermine the utility of the Interpreter.

But to call this a peer-reviewed journal is a disservice to actual peer-reviewed journals.

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