Human Studies

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 37–55 | Cite as

How Editors Decide. Oral Communication in Journal Peer Review

Empirical Study/Analysis


The operative nucleus of peer review processes has largely remained a ‘black box’ to analytical empirical research. There is a lack of direct insights into the communicative machinery of peer review, i.e., into ‘gatekeeping in action’. This article attempts to fill a small part of this huge research gap. It is based on an ethnographic case study about peer review communication in a sociological journal. It looks at the final phase of the peer review process: the decisions taken in the oral communication of editors’ meetings. The article describes this meeting as an instrumented talk, supported by written tools and constrained by necessary procedural outcomes. It analyzes examples of interactive negotiations of manuscripts and, in the end, it discusses the procedural rationality of peer review as a public sphere for professional judgment.


Peer review Manuscript selection Editorial decisions Conversation analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für SoziologieUniversität MainzMainzGermany

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