Peer-reviewing as a component in the publishing process
All books published by Lund University Press have undergone a stringent peer-reviewing process including the following stages:
- Initial selection by the Director, in some cases following consultation with a specialist advisor, for submission to the Editorial Committee
- Agreement on the Editorial Committee that the manuscript should be sent out to peer review
- Appointment by the Editorial Committee of at least two peer reviewers with specialist competence in the relevant field
- Submission of favourable reports by reviewers
- Satisfactory response by the author to any concerns raised by peer reviewers
- Decision by the Editorial Committee to take the book under contract with LU Press.
Some LU Press books have been monitored by the Press, normally in consultation with our partner Manchester University Press, from the proposal stage onwards (see ‘Submissions’ and ‘The publishing process’). Proposals and sample chapters may be subjected to review by one or two experts, but contracts are only granted to complete manuscripts scrutinized by at least two independent scholars of leading status in the relevant field.
Peer reviewers for LU Press
Scholars who accept the job of peer reviewing for LU Press will have consulted the COPE ethical guidelines for peer reviewers. These guidelines were written for the peer reviewers of journal articles; but the ethical principles involved – such as possession of the expertise required for the undertaking, confidentiality, openness about any conflict of interests, and a constructive attitude – apply to the expert scrutinizing of book manuscripts as well.
As all books published by LU Press are written by Lund researchers (see ‘History’), peer reviewers must come from outside Lund. Manuscripts or books in one of the Scandinavian languages obviously call for the corresponding linguistic ability in peer reviewers, which limits the field; but efforts will be made to secure peer-review reports by scholars independent of any possible bias-inducing connection with Lund University. With scripts in English, or in one of the other European languages in respect of which LU Press has access to specialist competence (German, French, Italian and Spanish), the field is of course much wider. Our partner Manchester UP will be able to assist us in the choice of peer reviewers in whom knowledge of Swedish is not required.
Peer reviewers will be issued with a set of guidelines for their work, and they will be encouraged to liaise with LU Press during the review process. Their identity will not be disclosed to authors. On completion of their work, a fee will be payable. The fee for the peer reviewing of a complete manuscript or book for LU Press is SEK 5000 (approx. £400). This is a high fee in comparison with what publishers normally pay their peer reviewers, but it is warranted because of the special demands that come with this function at LU Press.
Special challenges for LU Press peer reviewers
Two circumstances make peer reviewing for LU Press particularly demanding.
One is the Germanic-Continental tradition of scrupulousness in respect of awareness of the work of predecessors, not only in English but in French and German as well. Researchers in the English-speaking countries are accustomed to an academic climate where the failure to use and give credit to a previous scholarly work is not regarded as a serious flaw unless plagiarism is suspected, or the omission would strike anyone with expert knowledge as glaring. Ignorance of relevant work in German and French is usually not thought to reflect badly on the writer. By contrast, the work of Swedish scholars in the Humanities and Religious Studies is expected to advance on, and acknowledge, all significant earlier work on the topic, even when it has not appeared in English. Peer reviewers are required to help ensure that LU Press books live up to that expectation.
The other challenge consists in the fact that the peer-review report will have an impact beyond what is customary in these contexts. A recommendation to publish will be issued in the awareness that publication of the work in question will entail significant expenditure for the publisher, and hence for the Faculties which operate it in a cold economic climate. As LU Press books are so few, the acceptance of one book project may well, in practice, reduce the chances of another. Consequently, the responsibilities of peer reviewers will weigh heavily on them.
It is to be hoped that the opportunity to contribute to the free and global dissemination of some of the finest research in the Humanities and Religious Studies in Scandinavia will inspire our peer reviewers to accept the task we wish to entrust to them.