11 May 2017

Feargal Cochrane on expertise

Here is the heart of the matter. It’s one of the reasons why the PSA uses blind peer review before publications are accepted in its own academic journals. Not all opinion is equally valid. Some opinions are drawn from solid methodology, critical engagement with a canon of other work in the field, a robust dataset or generation of new empirical evidence, from which informed conclusions can be reached and a conceptual framework established to interpret the results. This is expertise, and it is desperately needed in today’s […] climate to make a contribution to an informed society.

Feargal Cochrane, vice chair of the Political Studies Association, at

Although he’s talking here in the context of the 2017 general election campaigns, Cochrane’s view of expertise does rather mirror our own expectations when editing an academic manuscript, and we will raise queries accordingly.

However, if an author’s reaction to pragmatic scrutiny is to opine, “like anyone other than the obsessive copy editor will ever care”, or “consistency is a chimera, a mirage”, then we can only bite our tongue and nod along.

It’s not our name on the cover, after all.