Revised peer review handbook debuts

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The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) has released the second edition of Best Practices for Peer Review of Scholarly Books. This handbook, authored by the association’s Acquisitions Editorial Committee, was first published in 2016 to articulate practices that constitute a rigorous process of peer review for scholarly books. The revised edition, issued this week, reflects both evolutions in practice, particularly as the environment of both editors’ and scholars’ work changed through the pandemic, and an increased focus on making this essential step in manuscript evaluation more equitable.

The new edition’s introduction notes, 'Given the essential role that university presses play in shaping scholarly conversations and knowledge production, it is vital for acquisitions editors to prioritise equity, justice and inclusion in the peer review process.' New and revised sections of the handbook encourage the engagement of reviewers who bring diverse perspectives and positions, the use of reviewer questions that address issues of equity and marginalisation and greater consciousness of what former AUPresses President and the 2021-2022 Acquisitions Editorial Committee Board Liaison Niko Pfund (Oxford University Press) terms a “duty of care” in the professional relationships of editors, authors and reviewers. This second edition also includes expanded considerations of peer review for digital projects and of the uses of open and partially closed forms of peer review.

'It is our hope that Best Practices for Peer Review will continue to serve as a core resource for the scholarly publishing community, providing a guide for new editors and new scholarly publishing programs as well as a reference point for scholars, authors and universities,' said AUPresses Executive Director Peter Berkery.

The revision process was a sustained and collaborative project of three successive AUPresses Acquisitions Editorial Committees. The Association thanks committee chairs Beth Bouloukos (Amherst College Press, 2019-2020 chair), Courtney Berger (Duke University Press, 2020-2021 chair), Peggy Solic (Rutgers University Press, 2021-2022 chair), Andrew Berzanskis (University of Oklahoma Press, 2022-2023 chair), and all committee members, past and present, for their leadership, expertise and hard work.

The Acquisitions Editorial Committee will host an online hangout to discuss the new edition on 7 October 2022, at 12pm EDT, led by Berzanskis, Berger, Bouloukos, Solic and Debbie Gershenowitz (University of North Carolina Press). You can register here.

Best Practices for Peer Review of Scholarly Books is freely available to all online, with a downloadable PDF version to be released in the coming year.