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On Book Reviewing and Academic Freedom

The editorial of the most recent edition of the European Journal of International Law (vol. 20, no. 4) contains an interesting piece on the attempt to prosecute Professor Joseph Weiler, editor in chief of the EJIL and editor of the Globallawbooks.org and EuropeanLawBooks.org, in France for refusing to remove a book review written by a distinguished academic to which, however, the author of the book in question took exception. No matter how this issue will turn out in the national courts in France, it might be interesting to follow the development as it may have an impact on the understanding of academic freedom and the landscape of book reviewing in a time of instant access to information via the internet.

One Comment

  1. Gentian Zyberi Gentian Zyberi 14 February 2010

    Thanks Dominik for bringing this up. I sympathize with Professor Weiler and hope to be able to assist him to some extent in this case. I have reviewed a number of books myself and find it strange that an author would go this far. As far as I’m concerned, unless there is recklessness on the part of the reviewer, a conflict of interest, or a clear malicious intention to denigrate someone’s work and academic standing, peer reviewing, including book reviews, is an essential component of academic publishing and academic freedom.
    Sometimes, criticism included in a review would be very helpful for the author, should there be a second edition of the book.
    Yet, I believe that there remain serious concerns from different authors whose work might be unfairly criticized by a book reviewer. In that case, a possibility to reply to that review should be offered to the author. That should, in most cases, settle the matter.

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