Different Faces of Gatekeeping and Gatekeepers

Habibie, Pejman and Hultgren, Anna Kristina (2022). Different Faces of Gatekeeping and Gatekeepers. In: Habibie, Pejman and Hultgren, Anna Kristina eds. The Inner World of Gatekeeping in Scholarly Publication. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 9–24.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-06519-4_2


There is no doubt that scholarly discourse cannot be imagined without the practice of refereeing and adjudicating, and, as we shall refer to it in this volume, certifying knowledge. In other words, gatekeeping is at the heart of academic discourse and an important aspect of the rules of the game of scholarly practice. Merton and Sztompka (On social structure and science, University of Chicago Press, 1996) enumerate disinterestedness, “ultimate accountability of scientists to their compeers” (p. 275), as one of the major canons or imperatives for scientific ethos. That is, scientific work needs to be filtered through a normalized (standardized) intellectual process or procedure in knowledge construction and dissemination mechanism whereby the produced cultural capital is measured and its quality is dissected based on a set of agreed-upon (hegemonic) criteria by idealistically impartial expert compeers in one’s discipline. Ultimately, this is how the academic community assures itself and the general public that the certified knowledge has been intellectually processed and is therefore reliable, noteworthy, and a part of the existent knowledge repertoire. This description provides a pretty straightforward picture of the significance and the procedural knowledge of the gatekeeping process. However, it sounds simplistic and reductionist in the sense that it glosses over the complexity, multidimensionality, contours, and nuances of the knowledge production and certification enterprise. By the same token, in what follows, we intend to have a closer look at different dimensions of the gatekeeping practice (and similarly gatekeepers) in order to understand what makes the process and its analysis both worthy and challenging. It is worth mentioning though that in spite of our separate discussion of these aspects below, they are closely interconnected and constitutive of each other.

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