Yesterday afternoon I resolved that I would spend the rest of the day polishing off peer reviews of two manuscripts on my desk. I had to come back to campus from the early showing of the feel-bad movie of the summer, the thoroughly unsettling and depressing Capturing the Friedmans, to get the first one done and now I'm taking a blogging break before I embark on the second. I agree to review too many papers. Why do I do it? Why does anyone do it? Why don't academic disciplines just trickle their way to oblivion because editors can't get anyone to review papers?
Not only do I agree to review too many papers, I spend way too much time reviewing any one paper. At least 3/4 of the time I get the set of reviews back and my review is the longest. It took me a long time to figure out how someone could take the time to read an entire paper and then only have a short, vacuous paragraph to say about it, until I realized: they probably didn't actually read the paper, or at least not with any care. Why do I spend so much time reviewing a single article? What kind of wild self-importance must I attach to what I have to say about a paper? Do I think that my comments are going to contribute in any way to saving the lost cause that is most sociology, the same way that a friend of mine was sure she could save Richard Lewis if she spent all her free time writing him encouraging "buck up, you're still funny" fan mail?
Do I have a wild sense of self-importance more generally? Erin said I must to be doing this weblog, but then again that's the kind of thing she always says. Then again then again, perhaps the reason Erin always says that kind of thing is that she's had me pegged for a long time.