How to be an Academic Peer Reviewer, in 5 Easy Steps*

1. Make sure to wait until at least three weeks after the journal deadline to read the piece for the first and only time. Punctuality signals that you are not busy enough with your own brilliant research.

2. Do not re-read (or read for the first time) the primary source(s) in question (see above re: your precious time). Make up for this deficit of knowledge by grasping at any reference in the article that does remind you of anything you know about, and going batshit crazy about it. Demand the author alter the piece to address its relation to your own work.

3. After the third cowering reminder from the journal editor’s graduate assistant, deign to read the piece, but make sure you are hungry and/or tired and/or just had a big fight with your Chair and/or spouse.

4. Make sure to write down every visceral response you have –use all caps for emphasis, otherwise the author won’t know what’s important. DO NOT (see?) edit, rework or otherwise “tone down” your criticism. The Journal of Mid-Atlantic Orthography 1747-53 is the BIG TIME, and this is how the big time works.

5. Finally, if you don’t understand most of the article but are pretty sure it’s not bad enough to reject outright, grade it a “revise and resubmit” with criteria so obtuse that there is no way you will ever have to waste your precious brilliant time on it again.

* a propos of nothing; my most recent journal review experience was an enthusiastic acceptance on first pass, so there. It does happen.

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