Saturday, May 7, 2011

I've become an expert - overnight

Sometimes, a totally unexpected/weird/cool e-mail from a random journal editor asking you to review an article being considered for publication shows up in your inbox. Okay, sometimes is an exaggeration; once is more accurate, but you gotta start somewhere, right? 

The scoop: yesterday I get an e-mail from the editor of a journal that I've never heard of, asking if I'll be an outside reviewer (!) for an essay that focuses on the book on which I published my first article. If not, the editor asks, could I recommend 1 or 2 people who I think would be qualified to do so? Oh, and he called me "Prof."! Haha! 

So, my eyes pop out of my head, etc. etc., and then I look up this journal online, thinking it's some silly thing that's existed for about 3.2 weeks, but siked nonetheless. Not so. It's been in existence for more than 30 years and some major theoretical bigwigs published articles there about a decade ago. Like, Jonathan Culler? Um, major bad*ss. 

Of course I said "yes" in about no time flat. (Well, 55 minutes or so.) And like that - 10 min. tops - he writes me back with the article attached. Now I've got 6-8 weeks to review this thing and make my recommendation on publication.

Just so you can understand the magnitude of my shock and how much this has tickled me: outside reviewers are supposed to be "experts in the field." (That's the exact phrase Brad and I use when teaching our students about peer review.) It's a little laughable that anyone could think of me as an expert in anything outside of, say, sitting on the couch, drinking Mt. Dew, or arguing. 

Brad's immediate response was, "They must have liked your article!" My response was, "They probably haven't read it. But there are like no articles published on that book." I'm willing to settle somewhere in the middle. They probably haven't read it, maybe glanced at it, and chances are the author (who cites me!) recommended me as a reviewer b/c lots of journals (and it seems, from the website, that this is one of them) ask the author to do so. 

Anyway, this is one more step in the direction of me feeling like a real true adult with an actual possible career. Instead of a flunky who's 29, still in school and stinks at it, and who's never going to get a teaching job. 

A seasoned professor who's been asked to review an article 100 times would probably groan and find it to be more of a pain in the butt than anything else. But when I think about it, I'm like, Wait a minute - I think someone might be taking me seriously . . . !

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