The Art of the Review - Episode 6 Professionalism in Tone

Yelena Kalinsky Contribution
Audio file

In this second part of our two-part episode on professionalism, Robert and Yelena discuss how network advisory boards can help review editors vet a review's tone prior to publication. Review editors should exercise their editorial prerogative when they judge a review's tone unprofessional, and should confer with their boards in ambiguous cases. We then look at an example of a review from the H-Holocaust network that poses a challenge by its combative tone, and we bring in historian Vladimir Solonari, author of Purifying the Nation: Population Exchange and Ethnic Cleanshing in Nazi-Allied Romania, to discuss the review and the issues of professionalism and tone in reviewing.

Listeners can take a closer look at H-Net's Guidelines for Reviewing here. The section on professionalism states:

Whether the evaluation of a work is favorable or unfavorable, reviewers should express criticism in courteous, temperate, and constructive terms. Reviewers are responsible for presenting a fair and balanced review and for treating authors with respect. Electronic communication is a hot medium in which intellectual exchange is all too often lost to verbal conflict. As with all items posted to their networks, H-Net editors will be responsible for maintaining a constructive review process and may ask reviewers to reword or rewrite sections of their reviews. H-Net editors have the prerogative to refuse submissions.

The two reviews we discussed in the episode were:

  • Gregg French. Review of Cobbs Hoffman, Elizabeth, American Umpire. H-Empire, H-Net Reviews. July, 2015.

    • Link to the review and author response on the H-Net Commons.

  • John P. Fox. Review of Benz, Wolfgang, The Holocaust: A German Historian Examines the Genocide. H-Holocaust, H-Net Reviews. April, 1999.

    • Link on the H-Net Commons.

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The Art of the Review is produced by Robert Cassanello and Yelena Kalinsky, and sponsored by H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online and the University of Central Florida's Center for Humanities & Digital Research.