The practice of networked peer review conducted in online environments continues to be a subject of critical discussion in the field of publishing. Nina Belojevic and I engaged that discussion in 2013-4 by prototyping a platform plugin called “Peer Review Personas.” Our particular approach to prototyping emerged from Nina’s previous project, HyperLit (with Jon Johnson), which parodied gamification and engagement metrics by producing a playful design fiction (including wireframes and a video scenario) about “unlocking” James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Building on research by Kari Kraus, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Jonathan Lukens, Carl DiSalvo, Alan Galey, and Stan Ruecker, Nina and I outlined how the “Peer Review Personas” prototype could help practitioners to: “1) provide a range of commentary on scholarly communications, 2) document otherwise ephemeral or overlooked labor, 3) express activity with granularity over time and across venues, 4) develop reputations in their domains of expertise as well as authority in their communities of practice, 5) collaborate with a collective of practitioners, and 6) assess the tendencies and biases of peer review in the aggregate” (see paragraph four). We concluded by sharing our various concerns with where the prototype could go in a world of metrics and attention economics.

Nina and I first presented this work at New York University in 2013 and later published it as an article in The Journal of Electronic Publishing. Since then, I have continued to experiment with design-based approaches to networks and digital labor, and Nina’s built a career as a UX professional.

Various links to our essay and related projects (including Nina’s website) are below, followed by an abstract for “Peer Review Personas.” Thanks to Nina for writing with me, and to Maria Bonn and Jonathan McGlone at The Journal of Electronic Publishing for their feedback and editorial work.

An Example of a Profile with Multiple Personas in the Peer Review Prototype

Peer Review Personas
Published in The Journal of Electronic Publishing 17.3 in Summer 2014 | written with Nina Belojevic | 9,608 words plus fourteen image files | open access

Links: essay (HTML; PDF); (HTML); HyperLit (HTML; video) design fiction project; MLab research (HTML) on speculative prototyping and Ulysses; resources related to “Types of Prototypes” (HTML) and “Before You Make a Thing” (HTML)

Research supported by the Modernist Versions Project and Implementing New Knowledge Environments

Arguing for the relevance of speculative prototyping to the development of any technology, this essay presents a “Peer Review Personas” prototype intended primarily for authoring and publication platforms. It walks audiences through various aspects of the prototype while also conjecturing about its cultural and social implications. Rather than situating digital scholarly communication and digital technologies in opposition to legacy procedures for review and publication, the prototype attempts to meaningfully integrate those procedures into networked environments, affording practitioners a range of choices and applications. The essay concludes with a series of considerations for further developing the prototype.


Featured image, edited in Photoshop, and main image both from “Peer Review Personas.” This page was created on 1 August 2019 and last updated on 15 July 2021.