Ever had a book review that you would like to issue a rejoinder to? It's almost always been the policy of journals not to allow a right of reply to authors who feel that they have been hard-done-by in a book review. But now the SBL Review of Biblical Literature is allowing authors their right to reply in its blog.
The blog format enables authors to add their thoughts on their reviewers in the "comments" and the regular RBL newsletter has begun to draw attention to these.
It will be interesting to see how this develops. I can imagine someone offering a right humdinger of a response if they feel they have been treated unfairly. Will this make reviewers more careful to be as fair and accurate as possible? Will it make them more restrained, their tone more civil?
I must admit to mixed feelings about this. On one level, it could help to hold reviewers to account. But on the other hand, it is part of the academic experience to learn to cope with reviews of your work with which you may disagree. I wonder if the ease of a blog-comment response will encourage too many authors to respond too quickly and too negatively to critiques of their work that may -- on reflection -- help them.
Moreover, sometimes discretion is the better part of valour. If you have an unfair review, it's sometimes better not to respond. Knee-jerk responses all too often end up looking petty, pompous or self-indulgent.