Review needed

January 14, 2016

It was heartening to read Lars Fischer’s defence of book reviewing (“Scholarly book reviewing: time for a plot twist”, Opinion, 7 January). This is self-evidently a vital scholarly function that should be properly recognised and rewarded by all relevant systems, not least the research excellence framework. I applaud Fischer in particular for refusing in his own capacity as a reviews editor to work with publishers unwilling to give hard copies of their books to reviewers.

The same trend is spreading among journal publishers. I recently lost the possibility of a seat on an editorial board for insisting that members receive a copy of each issue. I have also had little traction with editors when I have asked them to dispute journal publishers’ withdrawal of author copies.

These commercial developments masquerade as “information age” progress, but in reality are crude and often unnecessary cost-cutting. It would be good to see more solidarity in the academic community on such matters.

Alistair Duff
Edinburgh Napier University

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