Laughter and the Management of Divergent Positions in Peer Review Interactions. Academic Article uri icon


  • In this paper we focus on how participants in peer review interactions use laughter as a resource as they publicly report divergence of evaluative positions, divergence that is typical in the give and take of joint grant evaluation. Using the framework of conversation analysis, we examine the infusion of laughter and multimodal laugh-relevant practices into sequences of talk in meetings of grant reviewers deliberating on the evaluation and scoring of high-level scientific grant applications. We focus on a recurrent sequence in these meetings, what we call the score-reporting sequence, in which the assigned reviewers first announce the preliminary scores they have assigned to the grant. We demonstrate that such sequences are routine sites for the use of laugh practices to navigate the initial moments in which divergence of opinion is made explicit. In the context of meetings convened for the purposes of peer review, laughter thus serves as a valuable resource for managing the socially delicate but institutionally required reporting of divergence and disagreement that is endemic to meetings where these types of evaluative tasks are a focal activity.

publication date

  • May 2017