A Dialog with the Mellon Foundation's Don Waters on the Grand Text Auto Open Peer Review Experiment

Previously ("Book to Be Published by MIT Press Undergoing Blog-Based Open Peer Review"), DigitalKoans reported on an open-peer-review experiment on the Grand Text Auto Weblog.

Now, if:book has published a dialog between its staff, the book's author, and Donald J. Waters, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Program Officer for scholarly communications, about the experiment.

Here's an excerpt from the posting:

[Waters] As I understand the explanations, there is a sense in which the experiment is not aimed at "peer review" at all in the sense that peer review assesses the qualities of a work to help the publisher determine whether or not to publish it. What the exposure of the work-in-progress to the community does, besides the extremely useful community-building activity, is provide a mechanism for a function that is now all but lost in scholarly publishing, namely "developmental editing." It is a side benefit of current peer review practice that an author gets some feedback on the work that might improve it, but what really helps an author is close, careful reading by friends who offer substantive criticism and editorial comments. . . . The software that facilitates annotation and the use of the network, as demonstrated in this experiment, promise to extend this informal practice to authors more generally.

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