Letter from the Executive Director

The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) [now AUPresses] advances the essential role of a global community of publishers whose mission is to ensure academic excellence and cultivate knowledge. High standards of editorial quality and peer review are one of the primary ways that [AUPresses] members advance that mission. Demonstration of these standards in their publication programs is central to the membership eligibility of nonprofit scholarly publishers, and is the very substance of [AUPresses] members’ authority to validate and disseminate long-form scholarship.

The Association offers this handbook of Best Practices for Peer Review as a resource for member publishers, acquisitions editors both new and experienced, faculty editorial boards, scholarly authors and researchers, and new scholarly publishing programs.

The Best Practices handbook was developed by the Association’s Acquisitions Editorial Committee through a consensus-building two-year process to articulate a set of practices that comprise a rigorous process of peer review. The Committee has rightly noted that, “the peer review process is highly complex, involves many individuals, and must be responsive to the norms of the appropriate fields.” Disciplinary expectations, administrative procedures, inter-disciplinary and creative works, and innovative publishing formats may all demand changes in approach. However, well-reasoned differences in practices can only be evaluated against a solid understanding of what constitutes a standard practice of high-quality peer review.

The effort to draft these Best Practices began under the aegis of the 2014-15 [AUPresses] Acquisitions Editorial Committee, chaired by Mary Francis (then at California, now Michigan) and was completed by the 2015-16 Committee, chaired by Mick Gusinde-Duffy (Georgia.) The committee gathered information and feedback from a wide subset of [AUPresses] member publishers to ensure the document is broadly reflective of accepted standards. An early draft was brought to a Peer Review Collaboration Lab, organized by Dan Williams (TCU), at the Association’s 2015 Annual Meeting in Denver. The final document is a product of significant work and consultation from many individuals in the [AUPresses] community, and the Association is grateful for all these contributions.

The core values of the Association include integrity, diversity, intellectual freedom, and stewardship. These values are reflected in work our members do to promote and disseminate scholarship, and the standards of peer review in monographic publishing are a key part of what sustains them. Best Practices for Peer Review helps to articulate how this works and will be a living foundation for integrity and stewardship.

Peter Berkery
Executive Director
Association of American University Presses
April 2016