Saturday, March 17, 2018

How to review papers you havn't even read

with apologies to Pierre Bayard, Id like to discuss this important topic. We all have far too little time, especially since we've been busy striking - and of course it is a well known fact like everything from extinct dinosaurs to internet lol-cats, has a long tail so most papers live down the end of that tail where they've only been read by two people, the author and the first reviewer.

I'd  now like to propose  two improvements

improvement 1. promote reviewer number 2 to reviewer number one, and dispense with the need for anyone reviewing the paper - why bother? no-one else will read it, so what's the purpose of quality control. if it is one of those incredibly rare papers (and you can turn the handle on Zipf as well as me), that gets a real reader, they can determine if the paper is any good for themselves. what good did the review do? we know this already  with films and music - reviewers are a waste of time, and frequently completely misidentify what is good and bad (how many A&R guys didn't hire the beatles? how many readers dismissed JK Rowling's books ? boy must they have low self esteem:)

improvement 2. why should the author read the paper? This has already been discussed in Bayard's excellent book on how to talk about books you havn't even read. I havn't read it, but I can say with authority that the idea of someone who is identified as the author talking about their  book which they didn't even author, with great authority is one of the latter inspiring examples - if this can work for fiction, surely it should work even better for factual writing?

dear reader, thank you for getting this far

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