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Even though peer review is a widely used practice to assess research quality in the social sciences and humanities, little is known about how it is done and what it does. Against the background of Lamont’s How Professors Think, it is argued that evaluation experts typically have recourse to a great deal of non-conceptual knowledge when they construct academic excellence. Therefore, the construction of excellence turns out to be deeply grounded in the social practices of the academic world. By placing peer review in the broader context of academic knowledge production, this essays points out the heterogeneity of research as a set of intertwined practices at the nexus of knowledge and power, following different logics, such as tribalization and stratification.