Tag Archives: gratitude

The Power of Gratitude

I just want to share some thing that I learned in the last few weeks that I will use again in the future.

As a professor doing reviews is a necessary evil.   Peer review is what drives our world, in journals, in conferences, and in our promotion and tenure.

I have been in charge of reviews several times in my careers as Chair of SIG IT with AERA, as CITE Science Education Section Editor, and now as ISTE Research Chair.  And well it is always drudgery, asking (begging) for volunteers, knowing many will not do them, and having to figure stuff out in a scramble at the end..

When I started this ISTE process, I kind of dreaded the review process. When I found out that the previous reviewers did not carry over, and I had approx 150 papers and no reviewers, I panicked,  and my dread increased.. but I tried a different approach and I was impressed and surprised by the graciousness of the ISTE review community and others in my Professional network.

So when I saw I had almost no preset reviewers, I started with the traditional begging.  but still I only one one review per paper. (not enough). Then I reached out to my PLN and got some more reviewers.  A considerable challenge is that other divisions were giving 30 reviews to each reviewer so I tried to stay at 5.. (but I did have to go up a few).

Also ISTE has a 2 step approval process, you have to apply and then be invited – which also was a problem.

However, in my panic, I started using email and I used to thank our reviewers to great success.   First, I thanked everyone who did step 1 and asked them to complete step 2.. and then I did that a few times.  I also sent out a thank you to those that agreed but had not completed step 1 and was honest about their frustration.

Then each week during the review process, I sent a thank you and an update to all reviewers.  I have never done that before and I got so many personal emails from people that they appreciated it. (and a few emails from friends saying- are you ok – that is pretty informal). I had nothing to lose and a job to do so I tried to be funny and myself. A little sarcastic and more than a little honest.  People responded to it in a big way..

What did I get – Amazing reviews and new members of my PLN.   I also had people email to ask me questions and make their reviews even better. I also got to include some doctoral students in the review process. They were able to build their resume, did a great job, and also will likely be good reviewers next year!

I was worried that people would be mad at me for emailing them weekly, I know I am like .. I know the deadline, back off!  but I did not get that.. Instead I got to celebrate with reviewers and recognize them publicly via twitter. (which was incredibly fun for those that did!)

twitter post

I also left this weekend expecting to do a 100 reviews, I am doing 2!

So what did I learn?

Many others feel the same way about doing reviews that I do.. It is a necessary evil but everyone wants a good program and for their own papers as well.  In addition, they want a good process and want to make it better. If you open the line of communications, they want to contribute.  Also, I have amazing friends and students and networks, and they came through for me.. Thank you thank you thank you thank you.

So what should I learn from this and do different moving forward? 

Gratitude is missing from a lot of our processes. As professors are being asked to do more administratia, do they often get thanked? probably not..   I need to thank people more in every day life.   It may encourage those reluctant to service to serve more.   There was a recently an article or a meme on social media – that instead of saying sorry say thank you.. I.e. instead of Sorry that I am late, … thank you for waiting.. could we practice it more..

So my question, how can I incorporate gratitude more in my academic drudgeries and day to day life?  and how can you?  


Special shout to the ISTE Staff especially Ari Brazfield who offered and sent out emails on my behalf so I did not have to keep data mining emails like I did at the beginning..  She was also super encouraging when she saw my results.

ISTE 2019 Research Reviewers Rocked!!!!  Thank you thank you thank you thank you. .