Peer Review Statement, February, 2018
Peer review is an essential part of the publishing process at the MIT Press. Detailed evaluation by independent experts informs both the selection and development of our publications. On the books side, our peer review process aligns with the Association of University Presses, Best Practices for Peer Review. For many individual MIT Press books, the process goes well beyond what these baseline standards require.
A rigorous review, selection, and development process supports the MIT Press’s mission to advance knowledge by publishing significant works from leading educators and researchers around the globe — for the broadest possible access, impact, and audience.
The MIT Press differs from more mainstream publishers in its focus on multidisciplinary inquiry and research at the edges and intersections of fields. Our acquisitions editors collaborate with both senior and junior scholars who are pushing the boundaries of the known and producing consequential research, often in fast-moving fields.
Books published by the MIT Press generally undergo two rounds of peer review, one at the proposal stage and a second once the complete manuscript is drafted. Authors benefit from input at both stages, particularly if sample chapters can be provided to reviewers along with a proposal. The press usually seeks to engage multiple reviewers at each stage, and textbooks and multi-disciplinary works may require a larger group of readers to evaluate the work’s distinct contribution to more than one field or its value for teaching. Reviewers are asked to respond to a rigorous questionnaire whose open-ended questions allow for a detailed evaluation of the quality, originality, and unique contribution of the work under review. They are also asked to provide suggestions for improving the work. Our standard process is single-blind, to allow a candid assessment by anonymous reviewers; however, these reviewers may opt to identify themselves to a work’s authors and sometimes do so. If the reviews support publication or are mixed, authors will typically be asked to write a response that engages any substantive suggestions the reviewers make and explains how their concerns and criticisms would be addressed.
A major reason for investing in reviews from multiple readers is the understanding that a rigorous evaluation process depends upon diversity. MIT Press publications are acquired with a global readership in mind. Every effort is made to ensure that our reviewers bring different cultural, geographic, and disciplinary perspectives to the task. An international base of reviewers at universities around the world has been particularly important to ensure that the Press can expand its readership around the world. Gender diversity and balance in the selection of reviewers is also important for considering and developing the books that we publish.
MIT Press reviewers receive a modest honorarium in cash or books in exchange for their time and labor. This compensation is too nominal to recognize the enormous value that these expert readers add. As such, we seek additional ways to recognize reviewers while preserving their anonymity and the integrity of a process that is not (and should not be) undertaken for financial gain. Peer reviewers are encouraged to request that we write to their deans or department heads to acknowledge their valuable service to the MIT Press and to their fields.