I spend way too much of my time doing peer reviews for someone who is untenured. I am on the editorial board of ASR and a contributing editor for AJS**, responsibilities that I accepted in part because I thought that doing both would force me to decline doing any other reviews. Here I am this evening, however, reviewing a grant proposal for one of the government agencies that funds social science research.
Before I began reviewing grants, an empirical regularity I had noticed with puzzlement was that reviewers on grants seem much more unfriendly--even the course of providing what are ultimately positive reviews--than reviewers on articles. Now I totally understand it. I mean, I suppose one can get all worked up when doing a review with the thought that, "This section is pretty sloppy for somebody who thinks this paper deserves 20 pages in A Leading Journal." But it's way easier to feel terse-n-surly from the thought that "This section is pretty sloppy for somebody who thinks this proposal deserves a quarter of a million dollars."
* Also the title of what is, incidentally but inarguably, the best song in Cyndi Lauper's underappreciated oeuvre.
** Oops, I lapsed into Assumed Sociology Acronyms, and this is supposed to be public (pub-lish?) sociology here. ASR = American Sociological Review, AJS = American Journal of Sociology.
(originally guest-posted to Pub Sociology)