ISBN 9780798302203
Pages 106
Dimensions 234 x 156 mm
Published 2009
Publisher Africa Institute of South Africa, South Africa
Format Paperback

Unequal Peers

The politics of discourse management in the social sciences

by Mpilo Pearl Sithole

Peer review plays an important role in academic practice. By definition, it implies a frank and equal intellectual exchange between scholars with similar capabilities. But does this happen in practice? And what are the consequences? Among other things, peer review regulates who gets published in academic journals - and who doesn't.

In this provocative book, the author examines whether the peer review process meets these expectations in practice. She does so by publishing three essays which she submitted to academic journals, and were rejected, together with comments by the (anonymous) reviewers, and their subsequent correspondence. In an accompanying analysis, she finds that, far from maintaining equality between reviewer and reviewed, the peer review process is dominated by scholars allied to Western models of knowledge production, who use their 'gateway' positions to marginalise and discourage African schools of thought. Trenchantly, she concludes that, in its current guise, peer review is encouraging 'dwarfed knowledge production', and hampering its transformation in South Africa and elsewhere.

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About the Author

Mpilo Pearl Sithole

Dr Mpilo Pearl Sithole is a senior research specialist at the South African Human Sciences Research Council. She holds a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Cambridge, England. Her research interests include sociocultural dynamics, gender, and local government and development. She also analyses and writes critically on the politics of knowledge production.