Friday, August 4
I recently read an edited volume, in which one person serves the role of 1) editor; 2) author of a chapter; 3) co-author an"afterword" to the book, which is highly critical of many of the chapters published in the volume which she has edited. Anticipating that this might seem strange, the afterword includes a footnote which explains that a deliberate decision was made by the editor to "present an accurate picture of the field as it stands today," replete with all the inconsistencies, oversights, and theoretical lacunae for which she has just lambasted her contributors.
So, now I'm curious - what are your expectations of the folks who serve as editors of the books, journals, etc. to which you contribute? I am inclined to think that what this editor did is inexcusable, but perhaps I am needlessly depriving myself of rationales which could increase significantly my available beach time.

9 comments:

Clear said...

Welcome, Twilight Blue! I will comment on your post later, but: if you have sense of what color twilight blue is for the sidebar, let me know. (I'm lost once people move outside the Crayola colors--is it like midnight blue?)

Clear said...

Okay, so later is sooner: I don't know the specific case, obviously, but it's hard from reading your post what would you have rather the editor had done? Is it that you think the editor shouldn't have written the final chapter even if that was her view, or that you think she should have behaved differently in the author selection or editorial process?

twilight blue said...

Thanks for the welcome whispers. I'm new to editing, which is why I'm soliciting opinions, however, my sense has been that it is the job of an editor (and of referees, for that matter) to guide papers towards being theoretically sound, empirically correct, and generally "complete." To clarify, I'm certainly NOT suggesting that being an editor should serve as a warrant for bullying authors into agreeing with ones theoretical, methodological or substantive commitments. However, my gut instinct is that the afterword to ones own volume is a bit late in the game to be pointing out serious limitations in contributors' analyses. All that said, I'm eager to hear other opinions.
I'll feel like a more complete contributor, myself, with a color on the sidebar. I think Crayola's "wild blue yonder" is a good match for twilight.

kodachrome said...

Wild Blue Yonder. I dig it! As for your editorial situation, I'd say you're supposed to help them, but they won't comply, so then you get mad and nail them in the conclusion. Oops! That was bad. Can I suggest you ditch the project and head for the beach (or the mountains). I can write you a note from Dr. Chrome if you like.

Still there's a larger problem in your discipline, right? So I've found the solution. RateMyColleagues.com is available. Can we purchase the software from ratemyprofs and just let it run itself?

Scarlet said...

I will admit to some fear about how I would fare on ratemycollaborators.com.

Clear said...

I don't disagree with you, TB, especially if the Afterword was strident.

Also, I've added you to the sidebar.

twilight blue said...

Clear - thanks for adding me to the sidebar! TB/WBY

kodachrome said...

I will admit to some fear about how I would fare on ratemycollaborators.com.

Scarlet, wouldn't we all.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Chrome, great idea re ratemycolleagues.com, hah!

Scarlet, who would've guessed that you'd say that?:) I can just see how the rating would suddenly take on a worried tone: Has anyone seen Scarlet recently?

Twilight, interesting issues you raise. I can see how it would be inappropriate for the editor to trash the contributors. A person in this kind of a situation has to know how to strike a middle ground.

Here's what's tricky (being in the midst of such an editorial task myself). It may be that all/most of the submissions you receive are mediocre at best. I guess it's possible to back away from the project, but that's not completely straight forward either.

So you pursue the project. You do your best (and spend a ton of time) giving the authors feedback. They address some of that, but some of the projects have flaws that can't just be fixed. So you put together a not-great volume.

Your name is on it as editor, but you don't want readers to think this was all great work, b/c that's embarrassing. So then what? Well, you offer some critique of the material. I think one way to do it would be to suggest future avenues for the work in the area. I wouldn't trash things, but I can see the editor's need to distance him/herself from the papers somewhat.

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