August 15, 2022


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Legal procedure for scientific review

Legal procedure for scientific review

IIn April 2014 the classical philologist Thomas Scheren, professor at the University of Salzburg, published a review in “Arbitration”. The Journal of German Studies published by the major Berlin publishing house De Gruyter is a private publication containing only reviews. Schirren discussed under “Antique and Modern. Poetry, Philosophy and the Art of Living Friedrich Schlegel” by Dorit Meslin, doing research at the Max Weber College of the University of Erfurt and published by the same publisher. A detailed five-page review with fourteen footnotes is critical in content: the reviewer cautions the author […] It states that her philosophical abilities “barely amount to the chosen subjects”. However, Sherine frankly came to a mixed conclusion. Messlin frequently creates appropriate original links to shed light on the Romantic approach to antiquity. The reviewer sees only partially the reason for the shortcomings of the author. Your supervisors must have objectively limited the required work.

Nearly three years after this review was published, Shireen received a letter from Myslin’s attorney. He explained that his client’s personal rights were violated through the review. Schirren has to omit many paragraphs.

Science requires discussion

The lawyer claimed that it was against the principles of the university, “that a university professor publicly mocked a promising young talent in this way.” However, there is no rule that masters do not judge the work of beginners. On the contrary, a review by a confirming scholar is desirable and indicates that the work is noteworthy. Science requires discussion, and Shireen based his review solely on Myslin’s work, not on her person or other unrelated considerations. In addition, he would have been in line with the university’s principles if Meslin had contacted the journal first rather than hire an attorney, who also wrote to the reviewer that he would recommend his client to take legal action. It is not clear from the letter what it should be.

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Moreover, the lawyer stated that Shireen, as an archaeologist, should not discuss any literary work at all, and that he was not a scholar of Schlegel. In fact, Shereen is co-editor of volume 15.3 of Friedrich Schlegel’s critical edition and has also published elsewhere on Schlegel. It was not without reason that he was selected for review by “Arbitrium”. This journal also reserves rights to review. Shireen believes that Mislin’s lawyers therefore directed a request to “immediately remove many clips from the Internet” to the wrong addressee. As the author, he is only indirectly affected and therefore sees no reason to respond to the two letters now sent by a lawyer. The publisher does not acknowledge any violation of the law in the review and has informed the responsible publisher that there is currently no reason for the publisher or publisher to make a statement.