Sunday, September 27, 2009

75. On Peer Reviewing RSA Single-Paper Proposals

Here are my thoughts on the 25 panels I have reviewed, in broad terms. They are divisible into three categories.

1. Average (about 15 of 25 abstracts).

Para 1. Here is an object/event/text. This object/event/text is really interesting.
Para 2. This object/event/text is really, really interesting. I am very passionate about this object/event/text.
Para 3. I hope to say something interesting about this object.

2. Above-average (about 5 of 25 abstracts).

Para 1. There is a concept of interest in rhetorical theory/criticism/pedagogy. I am familiar with this topic, but I make reference to no specific literature, or, if I do, it's probably Kenneth Burke, who died 15 years ago.
Para 2. Here is an object/event/text. This object/event/text is really interesting.
Para 3. I hope to say something interesting about this object in light of this concept of interest.

3. Excellent: (about 5 of 25 abstracts).

Para 1: Specifically named scholars who have published in the last ten years disagree about a concept of interest in rhetorical theory/criticism/pedagogy.
Para 2: This disagreement can be adjudicated/resolved/complicated by reference to a specific object/text/event.
Para 3: In a specifically enumerated process, I will adjudicate/resolve/complicate this disagreement by doing specific critical work to the object/text/event.

Agree? Disagree? And if you agree, can't we teach these formulae to students? (And - did I use this formula myself? I hope so!)

8 comments:

gschneider said...

This is fascinating, and I don't doubt that it is true generally. What are the below average ones like?

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Average paper abstracts are about the object, from a rhetorical perspective. Above-average paper abstracts are about rhetoric, as illuminated by the object.

Some of the 15 that I called average, others might call below average.

David said...

Average paper abstracts are about the object, from a rhetorical perspective. Above-average paper abstracts are about rhetoric, as illuminated by the object.

Some of the 15 that I called average, others might call below average.

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna be sitting at home the end of May...

David said...

Anonymous:

Don't be so sure. First, the papers went to more than one reviewer, and my standards may be idiosyncratic. Where there is a discrepancy, I think the organizers will likely go with the more optimistic reading.

Second: None of the papers that I read were marked "unsuitable." If you are worrying that I might have rejected your proposal, the answer is "no." None of the papers I received were of a quality to reject.

Anonymous said...

Below average ones are probably like the one I sent in:

Para 1. Here is an event/text/object. It may or may not be interesting; I'm not going to try to persuade you that it is if you don't think so. It's probably rhetorical in some broad sense of the term, but you'll have to decide that for yourself.

Para 2. I'm going to talk about this event/text/object, and I hope that by using the word rhetoric/writing over and over, I will convince you that I am talking about rhetoric/writing rather than just the event/text/object itself. Otherwise, I'll just happily talk to myself.

Para 3. Having a third paragraph would mean that I could suggest implications of this event/text/object for rhetorical studies, so I'm leaving out the third paragraph.

(In my defense, I ran out of time before the proposal deadline...)

David said...

But -- I can't help but think that, with a few of these templates about (both mine and the Treat Variation for positive models, and a few of the bad ones), no one would run out of time, and everyone would produce strong abstracts, with even only a day to prepare.

David