Academic criticism

By October 22, 2012News

Academic criticism (Source:

The final seminar of the 2012 series of Applied Linguistics seminars at Macquarie University will be held on Tuesday, October 30:

Academic criticism: the myth of impersonality
When: Tue 30/10, 1:00-2:00pm; WhereW5C 221
Presenter: Esmat Babaii, Kharazmi University and Macquarie University

Abstract: Scientific discourse in general and hard science discourse in particular is expected to be impersonal and objective. This seminar examines this notion by looking at how academics criticize the work of their peers. Analysis of a corpus of book reviews in three leading physics journals will serve to question the commonly-held view that ‘scientists think but the public feels’ (Cook, et al., 2004). The differential treatment of similar problems in negative versus positive reviews points to the fact that academics do not necessarily adhere to universal, stable criteria when judging the quality of others’ publications. The findings cast doubt on the uniformity of scientific/academic discourse and call for a genre-specific, context-dependent treatment of this concept.


Cook, Guy,  Pieri, Elisa, Robbins, Peter. 2004. ‘The Scientists Think and the Public Feels’: Expert Perceptions of the Discourse of GM Food. Discourse & Society 15, 433-449.

About the presenter

Esmat Babaii (PhD, 2003, Shiraz University) is an assistant professor in the Department of Foreign Languages, Kharazmi University, Iran, where she teaches research methods, language testing and discourse analysis. Currently, she is a visiting scholar in the Linguistics Department of Macquarie University.

Author Lg_on_the_move

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  • Saeed

    Dear Dr. Babaii,
    I will be looking forward to your talk.

    Best wishes,

  • khan

    Very important topic. I just want to offer you a real case of academic criticism. I submitted a chapter for an edited volume. The chapter assesses the conceptual, metodologogical and analytical frameworks in LPP scholarship in Pakistan. One of the editors has particularly asked to remove the following expressions: ‘ The fundamental problem with Mr. X methods is’ and the expression ‘ such scholarship rest fundamentally on flawed assumptions of language and society’.

    Do you think local academic culture affect the perceptions and practices on academic criticism? The expressions ‘ fundamental problems’ and ‘flawed assumptions’ will not be interpreted aculturally?

    The other editor was fine with these expressions.

  • Thanks, Khan. The Dilbert Blog has a neat little categorization of the types of peer reviewers one is likely to encounter:

  • 1. Asshole
    2. Biased egomaniac
    3. Nice person who doesn’t want to make people feel bad
    4. Too busy to put any quality thought into it
    5. Person with low self-esteem who doesn’t want others to succeed in his or her field
    6. Coward who doesn’t want to rock the boat
  • Rings true to me – we are all human but peer review is still the best conceivable method to assess the value of research …

  • khan

    Dear Professor Ingrid,

    An eye opener for me. Thanks very much.

    Warm regards