This study draws on the insights provided by Bazerman 1988; Swales 1990, 1996, 2004; Bhatia 1993, 2002, 2004; Berkenkotter / Huckin 1995; Hyland 2000, 2002, 2005; Candlin / Bhatia / Jensen 2002; Bhatia / Gotti 2006; Fortanet 2008 to examine discourse practices in double-blind peer review, an ‘occluded’ academic genre in which the identity of the interlocutors is concealed to ensure objectivity and impartiality, allowing a critical appraisal to be made without damaging interpersonal relations. The analysis is based on a corpus of referee reports written for an international academic journal in the field of comparative labour law and industrial relations, and provides an overview of some of the rhetorical devices employed by the practitioners in a specific discourse community as they attempt to construct reviews that are reader-friendly and audience-sensitive, while making critical judgements that can result in the inclusion or exclusion of authors submitting manuscripts for publication. The discourse practices deployed by anonymous referees reveal a tension between the need to enforce certain discourse community norms, and to justify their appraisal to the interlocutor (whose identity has been concealed), constructing an argument that is both informative and persuasive. Rather than displaying a clear positive-negative polarity, the reviews may be placed on a cline between the two extremes, with a significant number of referees also providing tutorial advice as to the requirements to be met before further submission. The acquisition of generic competence on the part of authors submitting manuscripts therefore emerges as a key objective for the peer reviewer, highlighting the collaborative nature of academic writing, albeit behind a veil of anonymity.
Identity, Anonymity and Appraisal: Discourse Processes in Double-Blind Peer Review / Bromwich, William John. - STAMPA. - 100:(2009), pp. 349-370.