Daniel Lemire's blog

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Privacy versus Accountability in Academia

I just read a great paper in the Chronical called Evaluation and the Culture of Secrecy:

For years now, I’ve been waging a private battle against the unexamined practice of confidentiality. When I write readers’ reports, I add a postscript requesting that the press or journal attach my name to the evaluation. Then I hope it does so. I add my request for openness to my tenure-evaluation letters too.

What an eye-opener!!! Our current academic system with all its secret evaluations takes a lot from the CIA and Al Quaida, but very little from the justice system. For years now, I’ve been annoyed that my paper reviews are anonymous. In many cases, I’ve had the feeling that such or such review was motivated politically (I didn’t cite the right people). I’ve also heard many horror stories about promotion cases going sour for unknown pr unexplainable reasons. Like many people, I no longer really trust the system. I used to trust it when I was a graduate student. I believed that people did their best to manage the system, but now, I strongly suspect that many decisions are bias and people get away with it because of the secrecy.

What changed today is that I realized that I can do something about it. I can request that the reviews I write bear my name.