Gatekeepers of Reward: a Pilot Study on the Ethics of Editing and Competing Evaluations of Value

David M. Shaw, Bart Penders*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The reward infrastructure in science centres on publication, in which journal editors play a key role. Reward distribution hinges on value assessments performed by editors, who draw from plural value systems to judge manuscripts. This conceptual paper examines the numerous biases and other factors that affect editorial decisions. Hybrid and often conflicting value systems contribute to an infrastructure in which editors manage reward through editorial review, commissioned commentaries and reviews and weighing of peer review judgments. Taken together, these systems and processes push the editor into a role resembling censorship. Editors and authors both experience this phenomenon as an unintended side-effect of the reward infrastructure in science. To work towards a more constructive editor-author relationship, we propose a conversation, an exchange between editor and author in which value is collectively assessed (or constructed) as obligatory passage points in the publishing process are traversed. This paper contributes to the discourse on editorial practices by problematising editorial paradigms in a new way and suggesting solutions to entrenched problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-223
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Academic Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • Editorship
  • Valuation
  • Value systems
  • Reward


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