Reflecting on the Roles and Responsibilities of University Faculty and Management
Edited by Roger Sugden, Marcela Valania and James R. Wilson
Chapter 9: Peer review: the academic guild’s last stand or key to knowledge as a public good?
Amidst the variously lodged calls for academic inquiry to be more ‘open sourced’ and ‘publicly oriented’, it has been common for academics who either uphold or oppose the neo-liberal mode of knowledge production to agree on the inviolability of ‘peer review’ as a core academic value. Indeed, nowadays the tendency especially amongst the critics of neo-liberalism is to portray peer review, under the guise of ‘mutual accountability’, as a mark of solidarity and collective resistance against larger forces in the political economy that threaten to compromise academic freedom (Boden and Epstein 2011). From the standpoint pursued in this chapter, such an overestimation of peer review may be seen as sounding the death rattle of the academic guild mentality. As a matter of fact, the value of peer review in the larger political economy of knowledge production is rather circumscribed and typically conservative in effect. Insofar as peer review can be harnessed to some sort of progressive ends in the neo-liberal academy, it should be in full cognizance of its limitations.
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