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The Work of the Professional Scholar 10: Editorial Work (Books)

In addition to serving as editors and editorial board members for academic journals, many scholars also serve in the same capacity for scholarly book series published by academic presses. Over the years – again, just taking myself as a not particularly unusual example – I have been on the editoral boards for a number of scholarly monographs series: Studies and Documents (published by Eerdmans Press); Early Christianity in Context (T & T Clark), and Vigiliae Christianae Supplements (E. J. Brill).

Scholars serving in this capacity perform a similar service to those on editorial boards for journals, but now, rather than evaluating academic articles for publication, they are evaluating books, to be published in a series that is usually devoted to a certain kind of book written, broadly, on a certain kind of subject in the field. Serving as the referee for a book is obviously a good deal more demanding than for an article. Books are much longer, more thoroughly researched, and (far) more important for the academic career of the author. And so a lot is at stake – sometimes the promotion and tenure of the author (in short: whether the person can retain his or her teaching position!).

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