Introducing a New Open-Ended Review Format on Völkerrechtsblog
Have you ever wanted to ask the author of a scholarly piece you read a question? Have you ever read a journal article, book chapter or other scholarly piece, or listened to a podcast, wanting to discuss it with peers? Chances are, you could not find anyone equally interested in the topic or maybe, you ended up being the one to summarise for your colleagues instead of having an exchange with others who read the paper with the same enthusiasm and different fascinating research interests as their lens.
Have you ever wondered what kind of questions readers of the pieces you wrote or the talk or comment you gave had on their minds? Have you ever, upon publication of the piece you have written and (possibly) revised many times, hoped it to be not just read, but engaged with by the audience? An audience, which apart from our peers often remains an abstract idea, an elusive faceless crowd we hardly ever encounter or meet.
When we think about what, how and when to publish, we are often guided by an underlying grid which imposes a hierarchy of what is and should be worth our while. Publications in peer reviewed journals are conceived of as proper academic work, the currency that counts to evaluate the status of an academic and determine her future options (or lack thereof) in academia. It is what “grown-ups” do, and if we want them to recognise our work we better do the same. Novel publication formats, such as academic blogs and podcasts – while thriving – still provoke a quiet voice of scepticism and diffidence whispering in your ear: This may be all great fun, but no one is really taking this seriously, are they?
We think there is an unfortunate, and indeed false, binary between “work” of grown-up scholars and joyful infantile “play”. Not only do we disagree with this binary, but we wish to actively push against it. To that end, we offer an opportunity to conceive of the relationship between blog posts and other publication formats differently. May we introduce: reflectiÖns – a new open-ended review format on the Völkerrechtsblog.
With reflectiÖns we first and foremost, wish to highlight that it is essential to take different formats seriously. Yet, instead of conflating them and/or pitting them against each other, we invite you to explore with us how different formats might best complement each other. How can they help to best satisfy our longing for an exchange of ideas and of being inspired by the minds of others?
Considering the often lengthy publication processes journal articles (necessarily) undergo, with reflectiÖns, we want to offer the possibility for you as authors to observe how your thoughts and ideas are faring, where they are travelling, by whom they are being appreciated, how they have been understood, and what new ideas they have inspired. ReflectiÖns offers the opportunity for scholars to exchange their learned views on a piece of scholarship they found fascinating and/or challenging – be it one that is recent, or seminal, or a more hidden gem. The reflectiÖns format offers the best chance to engage instantaneously and directly with your peers’ work. It seeks to dynamise debate in international law scholarship and foster overall international legal thought. With reflectiÖns, we highlight how blog post can function as a prism and a junction of scholarly debate – making visible and connecting scholarship of the past with ideas of the future. In contrast to a simple review of scholarly work, reflectiÖns encourage scholars to call on others to think with them and to use the initial piece as the reason to continue ongoing debates, pushing them into different directions or for starting new ones. Further, the open-ended character of reflectiÖns invites submissions to reflect on a scholarly piece of work not only at a particular point in time but on a running basis. It thus offers a platform for ongoing exchange and a resource of ideas to draw on rather than competition.
With reflectiÖns, we highlight that publishing journal articles should neither be the end (goal) in academia, nor an end in itself. Any text – long or short –, any presentation is part of an ongoing conversation and part of an open invitation to think together. Appreciating publishing and different publication formats in that way can be of great value for the authors individually as well as the scholarly debate more generally. What we wish to make visible is that the competition might in fact not be as real as felt, but rather fabricated in an environment of a strange allegiance to a tenet of “publish or perish.”
For reflectiÖns, we will cooperate with Journals, Publishers, and Podcast Hosts which are either already publishing Open Access or agree to make the pieces we are featuring on the blog available Open Access. This allows a broader audience to join the conversation we hope to start. We invite contributions between 1500-2500 words as well as recorded comments or conversations (audio as well as video) on a running basis. We are interested in receiving single or co-authored pieces but also welcome less traditional and more creative contributions. We issue calls for reflectiÖns on pieces we found particularly thought-provoking but for the future, we invite you to propose pieces to be featured in reflectiÖns at any time.
Please send your contributions or proposals for reflectiÖns to firstname.lastname@example.org.