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Being a celebrated researcher is worthy of applause. So is being an honored research reviewer. Can one be both? Absolutely.
Shashank Rao, Jim W. Thompson Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management in the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, was named Reviewer of the Year by the Journal of Supply Chain Management on Aug. 11, just three months after he was given Harbert’s Outstanding Research Award.
“The two (reviewing and researching) work together,” said Rao, who came to Auburn in 2011 after working at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “You can’t be a good scholar without being a good reviewer. It’s visa-versa. They are integral parts of the same thing.”
Rao said he has reviewed research papers for approximately four years, including the past two for the Journal of Supply Chain Management, which is regarded as the most visible journal in the field.
“As a reviewer you will see a lot more papers than you can write in your lifetime,” he noted. “Seeing more work gives you more ideas. Plus, it keeps you on the bleeding edge. You see scholarship long before it’s in the public domain.
“This is the peer review process. Peers look at it and try to spot the quality of the work before it comes out into publication.
Rao said he looks for research papers to include three important aspects.
“One, the question has to be interesting,” he said. “If the question is not interesting then nobody will read it. Two, it has to be methodologically sound. Three, it must be theoretically sound. If there is not a good theory, what happens is a paper becomes a collection of facts or observations. ‘What does it mean? How is this useful?’ It’s a big deal to have an extension of theory.
“As a reviewer you need to have some amount of understanding about the research matters involved.
Another word Rao uses for reviewing research is “service.”
“Research and service go hand-in-hand,” he said, noting that reviewers are necessary to question researchers’ work and police the research’s legitimacy.
Rao, who reviewed “five or six” papers in the past year, said reviewers will dissect research work, find the faults and qualities, and suggest ways to improve a paper’s quality before publication.