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Warren Beardall wins the Best Reviewer Award at the British Academy of Management Annual Conference


Warren Beardall, a first year PhD researcher, has won the Best Reviewer Award at the British Academy of Management Annual Conference 2023 in the Project Experiences SIG for his excellent reviewing. We would like to congratulate Warren to this outstanding achievement and the recognition of his excellent work.


We invited Warren to reflect on this experience and he offers some words of advice to other first-time conference presenters and reviewers. This is what Warren offered in reply:

"Thank you to the SIG panel for this acknowledgement. This was a series of firsts for me. My first academic conference; my first developmental paper; my first time as a reviewer. As a first year PhD these small milestones are modest moments that signal moving in the right direction. However, I am cautious in celebrating too much. Cautious, because my critical feedback denied others the chance to present their ideas at this conference itself, i.e. as I was able to do. These authors will be people just like me, seeking necessary input from peers. It is my hope that those comments landed well, therefore.

The lesson I take from this experience is a confirmation that thoroughness beats agreeableness, but notwithstanding there is a need for diplomacy and helpful tone. As my reviews were deemed appropriate, I will offer four glimpses into what that entailed. [1] Reviewing takes time. In this instance two full days per paper: one day reading, cross-referencing, and understanding in context of the literature; one day writing the review. Each 2,000-word developmental paper received a 1,000-1,500-word response. [2] Specific attention was given to the structure of each paper. There was nothing novel in that aspect of the review; I just followed guidelines of the same academic structure we are all obliged to follow best we can. [3] Structure aside, the time-consuming part was the context and content. That included time with the literature. For example, where multiple references were offered together, I sought confirmation that each citation was appropriately combined to the claim made. The collective of citations also needed to belong together in that context. Where this was not the case, specific comment was offered (with examples from those original citations) to support my critical response. [4] Only by spending that time and making detailed response, could I then offer detailed recommendation to suggest how these papers would be improved. Such comment is only credible because of that attention to that wider literature view, in the context of the paper under review.

Having offered examples of specific issues with detailed supporting evidence, I concluded one paper’s literature review with the following recommendations: “[1] Defining all key terms, using extant literature as a more coherent guide. [2] Include examples and reference scholars who have taken the extant literature and offered categorical order to a disparate field of scholarship. [3] Highlight this range of usage and place your own research more securely within a clearly identified part of these wider academic conversations. These three steps will aid the understanding of these introductions, and more securely ground this paper overall.” Without the examples I had offered, this reads as quite a generic response and relevant to any of us still learning our craft. They apply to my own work still on occasion. However, it is the context with examples that I think is key to that feedback having meaning and helping an early paper to be advanced.

On reflection, respecting others is all I really did here. Respecting the authors, but also the requirements of the task. In acknowledging the time required to review, and the value in doing this right. My key takeaway from this first conference is a new found respect for the time needed to be a peer. For me this is simply an extension of the golden rule of any community -i.e., “treating others as one would want to be treated oneself”. It takes time to understand. It takes time to find the diplomatic tone; and being mindful, careful, and respectful of the effort and the journey every other author is on, too. For me, that is all part of that bigger sense of community we are all contributing to."

Congratulations Warren - well done!