Be a Peer Reviewer

Can you spare 20 minutes a month to make the island a better place?

The importance of the role of Peer Reviewers to the Nantucket Owner’s Manual cannot be understated. They are the secret sauce of this publication. Peer reviewers lend NOM credibility and make the work far more effective. They battle-harden ideas (or kill them outright, as should be the fate of any bad idea) and provide a perspective the original author may not have. 

Here’s how it works.

Let’s use a hypothetical example (which could become a real example) of an idea to add an early-morning freight boat from New Bedford. The author gathers the pertinent information and writes it up as a four- or five-page idea. The idea would have specifics in it like times and costs and a problem the idea was trying to solve. In this hypothetical case that the SSA is at max capacity for freight while groups on the Cape are not happy with the current state of large trucks rolling through their communities. This is a real problem. Business as usual does not scale. 

For this example, we would want people from the impacted industries and communities to weigh in. So we would choose: 

  • One or two Peer Reviewers from freight companies like Sid Wainer and Cape Cod Express. 
  • A Peer Reviewer or three from the restaurant and retail industries (the folks on the receiving end) on Nantucket. 
  • A Peer Reviewer representing groups on the Cape concerned with traffic and noise in both Hyannis and Woods Hole.
  • A Peer Reviewer with inside knowledge of, or subject matter expertise in, freight logistics.

These seven people would read the manuscript (which should take five minutes) and answer some specific questions after reading the five-page draft. Approximately 15 minutes. It can be done offline or in real-time with the author. 

  1. Does the idea solve the intended problem?
  2. Would this idea alter the way you operate? Positively or negatively?
  3. How can this idea be improved?
  4. What knowledge or information is missing that needs to be considered?
  5. In general, does this idea have merit? Why or why not?

Based on these answers, the draft would be improved and expanded to a six- or seven-page manuscript with all comments included in an addendum. Peer Reviewers can choose whether they want to be named in the article (“David Wertner, Restaurant Owner”) or whether they want to be anonymous (“A representative from a local logistics industry company currently serving Nantucket”). After that, the idea is released to self-selected Patrons only and they will have an opportunity to weigh in through a controlled, private Slack channel. After a week of this semi-public comment, comments will be noted, edits will be made and the article is published online. 

Once published, it is up to someone outside of NOM staff to champion the idea. In the case of Freight Boats from New Bedford, the champion might be the local restaurant association, it might be the Cape advocates for peace and quiet, or it might be a local non-profit or citizen. 

Peer Reviewers will be aproached for each project, but in some cases, those with specific domain expertise (like knowledge of town government or business or the law) can be “on call” and may be tapped on a regular basis. As you can see, Peer Reviewers are integral to the NOM process. 

The NOM Peer Reviewer pledge.

Everyone involved with this process, especially peer reviewers, are asked to affirm that they will put the good of the community before their own self-interest in their work on a given article.

If you think being a peer reviewer is something you’d like to explore, please send a note to