The Horizon Review Process
by James L. Morrison

[Note: This is a re-formatted manuscript that was originally published in On the Horizon, 1996, 4(2), 2-3. It is posted here with permission from Jossey Bass Publishers.]

On the Horizon is now a refereed publication, albeit with some different wrinkles from professional journals. Our review process is as follows:

First, all manuscripts submitted for publication are automatically posted to our Internet list server, Horizon List, for review and comment by Horizon List participants. The manuscripts and any comments elicited about them are archived on our Internet Web site, Horizon Home Page, where they are easily accessible--the archives can be searched by subject, author, and date submitted. In this sense, all manuscripts submitted for publication are published (a fact that leads some wags to characterize the Web as a gigantic vanity press).

I review all manuscripts (and comments about the manuscripts) to determine if the article has potential for publication in On the Horizon and, therefore, should be reviewed by members of the editorial advisory board. If so, I post the manuscript to the OTHboard List and ask two members of the board to render their judgment about publication (that is, publish, publish with revision, or don’t publish). If their decision is to publish, or to publish with revision (in which case they provide specific recommendations for such revision), I post their evaluations to OTHboard List for general comment (without revealing who the reviewers are). I also e-mail the author the reviewers’ anonymous comments, any additional comment from other board members (also anonymous), comments from Horizon List participants, and my own suggestions.

When a complete issue is ready for publication, I overnight mail a disk to Jossey-Bass, where a copy editor works her magic with wordsmithing and returns a hard-copy version to me so that I can simultaneously review her revisions with the copy I sent to her. Usually I applaud (and learn from) this exercise; sometimes there is a problem of communicating a concept, in which case I can make a correction, sometimes in conjunction with the author.

There are several advantages to using the Internet list servers (Horizon List and OTHboard List) to produce On the Horizon. For example, manuscript submissions and reviews can be accomplished quickly through e-mail (or fax when the author does not have access to e-mail). It is possible for the entire process to take as little as three weeks or so, although it usually takes a bit longer due to competing demands on my time and that of the reviewers. Compare this time frame to other print publications, where authors are promised a decision within two to six months!

Another advantage of using the Internet lists to refine On the Horizon articles is that when board members (or Horizon List participants) have a disagreement with an interpretation of specific signals of change or the implications of those signals, we are able to publish another point of view alongside the original article, thus enriching the value of the publication for use by our readers. (See, for example, the two articles by Arnold Brown and Art Schostak in the Economics section of this issue.)

Perhaps a limitation of this process is that reviewers know the name of the authors of submitted articles, thus precluding the double-blind review process of most refereed print journals. However, the advantage of speed and the value of the preliminary review of potential articles by professionals who subscribe to Horizon List from many different organizations and countries outweigh the disadvantage of a reviewer being subtly influenced by knowledge the author’s identity. Of course, I could distribute all potential articles to Horizon List without identifying their authors, but this procedure would be dysfunctional to browsers to Horizon Home Page and to researchers using Web search engines for articles, as we archive all Horizon List messages on Horizon Home Page.

The objective of the review process is to improve the value of On the Horizon to you as you prepare your organization for the future. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

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