One characteristic thing about journals is the occasional "forum" issues, where several--usually three--scholars opine about a work--usually a monograph, but possibly a previous journal article--of another author. These forums (fora?) give readers exposure to a variety of viewpoints, and in that respect are quite useful and important.
But they also follow a vexingly predicable format. Consider a forum about the work of author A in which scholars X, Y, and Z participate. Here is the format that is usually, almost always, followed:
- X writes a long, often 20+ page, thought piece on author A's work.
- Y writes a shorter, about 5 to 10 page, piece.
- Z writes an even shorter piece, usually only 2 or 3 pages.
- A writes a "response" that usually runs like this: "X, Y, and Z bring up many good points, but in general I'm right and they're wrong, and here's why....."
Perhaps this does happen occasionally. As I've said, I don't read journals nearly enough. Still, it would be nice to actually see it happen.