Monday, November 16, 2009

Ouch, but in a good way

(Part 1 of 2) I just received some tough feedback on a book. So herewith a response: criticism is a gift, and hard criticism is one of the greatest things any fellow scholar can do for you. A true professional's one and only response to negative feedback on work should be "Thank you," followed by a serious and thoughtful consideration of each of the critic's points. Sometimes critics are wrong (and we've seen that from time to time in Booklab from peer reviews), but sometimes they are absolutely on-point correct, and other times the truth is in the middle. It is imperative, however, for any serious scholar to get and read the criticism, and to recognize it for the blessing that it is.

Wendy Belcher tells an interesting story about a scholar whose article was ripped at a top journal. The scholar revised based on the valid points, and submitted to a second journal, where it was ripped again, albeit more gently. After that revision, the scholar went to a third journal of equally superb quality, where it was accepted, along with editorial comments that they rarely see a piece so strong on the first bounce.

Amen. Therefore I nod to all critics in gratitude, and I will revise immediately (no waiting) for the good of the book, for the benefit of my colleagues, and for my own personal sense of professionalism and academic integrity.

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