Saturday, August 09, 2008

Senior Scholars, This Is Your Conscience Speaking

Hey you.

Yeah, I'm talkin' to you. No, don't turn around, there isn't anybody else here. I'm talkin' to you -- you, with the manuscript sitting on your desk that you haven't read yet. The one that you agreed to read -- yeah, you agreed, don't pretend you didn't. Hey! Look at me! Was it a month ago? Two months? THREE?

You bastard. And it's still sitting there? You haven't even taken off the rubber band yet? And school starts in a couple weeks? You make me sick.

OK, I want you to think about something. I want you to think about your first book, and how happy you were when you sent it off to the press. I want you to remember that your editor told you s/he would get back to you in six weeks, and by the time it got to be two months, you were like, "Geez, what do I do?" You were like, "Hey, I set aside August and September for final revisions, so what's up with this?" And finally after three or four months, one of your colleagues told you it was ok to call, they wouldn't reject your book just because you called. And maybe -- just maybe -- you really needed that book contract for your tenure case. Remember that? I thought you did, wise guy. And some %#$&*@ had your manuscript sitting on a desk kinda like yours the whole time. Or was using it for a doorstop, or some damn thing.

So read the effing manuscript, ok? Write some helpful comments if you can pull your head out of whatever pathetic part of your body you have it stuffed in. And don't forget to send your social security number so the press can cut the check, or send you twice the amount in books.

Thank you. You skunk.


Notorious Ph.D. said...

Thanks, TR. On behalf of all the pretenured, I thank you.

Siva Vaidhyanathan said...

Oh, crap.

I have to go do something ...

Anonymous said...

I am personally mystified by the rampant tardiness on manuscripts--they are usually a good read and I'm always flattered some press thinks I'm the right person to read it. On the other hand, as a guy who's tenure case was a litte too close for comfort due to lazy reviewers, yeah, it means something.
Now, I admit to sinning--book reviews and peer-reviewing of articles never seem to get done on deadline. And really, given all the resources available on line to check citations, texts, etc., what gives? Maybe we just don't have enough google-monkey PhD's?

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite recollections from my two years at Virginia Tech was the story of the poor soul who was denied tenure for non-publication by a dean, who, wearing his other hat as a "scholar," had the guy's manuscript sitting, unread, on his desk at home.

Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud at this -- I wonder if this can't be said of dissertation committee members? A couple members of my committee? Six months. SIX MONTHS with no feedback. I'm sure they are busy, though ... not busy reading other manuscripts.

Margot said...

Thank you! I have been waiting for comments since up January, and I finally got the nerve to call the big wigs in the sky only to hear it would be another month, a month and a half ago. I figure I can't afford to be too petulant though. I don't even have a PhD yet, so thanks for saying it for me.
I do wonder, however, if things would move along more rapidly if more people would take the time to review articles. In geology, my advisor, who was a editor of GSA Bulliten for a while, told me that it was an absolute nightmare trying to find reviewers, let along get the manuscripts reviewed.
Can you lambast those people who want their articles peer-reviewed, but refuse to be reviewers as well?

BlogSloth said...

You set high standards. Which I like, Kinda.

Anonymous said...

As the partner of a scholar who was denied tenure due to delayed reviews of his book manuscript, I thank you for writing this.

Anonymous said...

Tenured Radical -- love your blog -- but please, do not paint all of us who are "senior scholars" with the same broad brush stroke. I review every ms. that I receive within 48 hours and get it back to the editor. Usually it is returned within 24 hours. AND I still read the ms. three or four times before I write the review. And just so you know -- for my post tenure I just counted up -- since 2000 I have reviewed over 80 manuscripts. So that is a lot of editors and authors who should be happy about my speediness.

This kind of stereotyping does not help relations between the scholarly generations -- know?

Tenured Radical said...

anonymous 4:57 --

Blog posts like this tend to create hurt feelings, which I never understand, because they are so obviously lampoons. When you lampoon behavior, it is never a statement of fact about a certain kind of person. It is a way of saying "don't be this way."

And as to your review policy -- you are really unusual, and a model of responsibility. That isn't a lampoon.