Peer review is absolutely central to academic publishing and here at the CA, half of the office is given over to managing the flow of books and reviews that makes up Classical Review. All this activity hinges on the work of two editors: one to place books with reviewers and one to edit the reviews when they come in. A while ago, outgoing editor Dr Neil Hopkinson gave his thoughts on his time as Editor….
The Classical Review appraises more than 250 books each year. One of its Editors commissions reviews and the other copy-edits them for publication. No doubt the ideal copy-editor is an obsessively pedantic enthusiast for the minutiae of hyphenation, capitalisation, font size, and so on. There are some advantages, however, in a professional Classicist such as myself doing the job as an amateur: when a contributor’s English was obscure I was often able to divine the meaning and produce a more lucid version. On the other hand, there was always the danger that too much interest in the subject-matter would distract me from my proper task. I hope that I didn’t let too many misprints through; but I have to confess that the editing was made bearable chiefly by my constantly learning new facts about the ancient world, its language and literature, its history, philosophy, archaeology and reception.
Although it is now possible for every reader to post an opinion online, there is still a place for academic journals which publish detailed and judicious evaluations by scholars of research by their peers. As more and more Classical books pour from the presses, review journals can present a synoptic view of current research and direct scholars towards what is likely to be worth reading. My seven-year stint as Editor is over, and when I open the next volume of CR pleasure will not be mingled with apprehension.
Classical Review is an indispensable reference tool, essential for keeping abreast with current classical scholarship and until the end of March, you can read the ten most popular reviews from the last five issues free of charge!
Dr Neil Hopkinson is Director of Studies and Lecturer in Classics at Trinity College, Cambridge. His article first appeared on the Cambridge Journals Blog on 9 January, 2013.