which blog would you choose to review your book?

Or, would you prefer traditional peer review?  Which do you think would most improve your manuscript?

See this article in today’s Chronicle.

2 thoughts on “which blog would you choose to review your book?”

  1. this strikes me as a terrible idea because reading a manuscript is such an onerous time commitment that almost nobody who comments will actually do so. as such i think many of the comments would be based primarily on sympathy to the conclusions without attention to the evidence. as such i’m thinking this would increase the conformist tendencies of the peer review process, an especially acute problem with books since Kuhn argues that paradigm shifts originate with books rather than articles.

    for the sake of scientific progress, grandtextauto delenda est.

    (this wouldn’t be as much of a problem for journal articles, particularly in disciplines like the hard sciences where articles are shorter than the novellas found in sociology or law journals).

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  2. Something like this is pretty common in the world of technical writing. For example, here is the evolving manuscript of Real World Haskell, which O’Reilly are publishing. If you browse around you can see that the implementation is quite elegant: you can comment on any paragraph or example, which is a nice way to get feedback on errata. (Something that obviously matters in technical writing.) Note also that the book is being written in a format (probably DocBook that allows multiple versions of the text (online, printable html, PDF, etc) to be developed from the same source.

    It seems to me that if you did this from scratch for an academic manuscript, the time commitment for a commenter reading the thing is not that great. People could choose how closely to focus on the text. The issue for academic monographs is whether the efforts of commenters are typically (or best) focused on paragraph-level questions of exposition, or manuscript-level questions of overall argument and structure. It’s the latter that involves the big time commitment from commenters. But the former can really be extremely helpful.

    Note that the Haskell book’s description of the comment system makes it clear what commenters can and can’t expect: they’ll be credited, and comments can be marked as “reviewed” and then hidden when the comment has been addressed. But this is quite different from getting into a blog-like conversational thread with the authors. The goal, after all, is to write the book.

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