Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reviewing someone else's academic work

I wrote last time that I had been invited to review a paper about an ERP implementation. I was sent this paper but discovered that the document was empty - for a while, I wondered whether I had been the victim of a scam or a virus attack - but after contacting the journal editor, the documents were sent again and this time were readable.

The paper discusses an ERP implementation for a national electricity company in Africa. The paper shows that so far, the implementation has failed, which does not come as much as a surprise to me. There isn't a particularly good fit between such a company and ERP to start with. It seems that the vendor, contractor and company didn't do their homework very well and that the users were not prepared in advance. Unfortunately, this happens frequently.

Also unfortunately, I couldn't recommend the paper for publication. There were many mistakes in English and strange adjectives used (e.g. "unappealing commitment"). But even ignoring such issues, the paper wasn't very good. There were very few references, which is odd considering the number of papers about ERP implementation (I don't remember the exact figure, but my literature survey states that about 80% of ERP research is about implementation). The methodology is ok, but data is presented in a haphazard way and the conclusions aren't stated in terms of the original objectives.

I can understand how the writer(s) will feel when they receive the feedback - I have been in the same position three times. At least I totally understand the subject matter, which is more than can be said for those who reviewed my work. I have tried to point out where the work can be improved. I was sorely tempted to send back a copy edited version of the manuscript, but that's not my job.

It will be interesting to see whether there is any follow-up to this review.

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