Hypatia’s Editor and Reviews Editor Resign; Authority of Associate Editors “Temporarily Suspended”


The editor of feminist philosophy journal, Hypatia, Sally Scholz (Villanova University) and the editor of Hypatia Reviews OnlineShelley Wilcox (San Francisco State University), are resigning from their positions in the wake of the controversy surrounding the publication of “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel (Rhodes College). Meanwhile, the Board of Directors of Hypatia, the non-profit corporation that owns the journal, is taking “emergency measures to restore the academic integrity of the journal” and has “temporarily suspended the authority of the Associate Editorial Board.”

Readers may recall that the associate editors of Hypatia, responding to criticism on social media of the journal’s decision to publish Tuvel’s article, issued an unofficial apology in which they stated that the article “should not have been published.”  

Scholz will stay on until journal issues currently in production are published. Wilcox has already stepped down as Book Review Editor. The editors write:

The recent position taken by Hypatia’s Associate Editorial Board and the subsequent controversy has limited the ability of our editorial team to continue management of Hypatia and Hypatia Reviews Online while upholding the Journal’s high standards for scholarly inquiry, diversity, inclusiveness, and rigorous academic and review standards. 

The Board of Directors (who issued a statement on the controversy this past May), posted the following on the journal’s website this Thursday:

It is with disappointment and regret that the Board of Directors of Hypatia has received the news that Sally Scholz and Shelley Wilcox are resigning from their roles as editors of Hypatia. Throughout their tenure with the journal, they have stood by fundamental principles of publication ethics, which call upon all who are involved in the governance of a journal to respect the integrity of the peer-review process and to support authors published by the journal (with rare exceptions such as plagiarism and fraud). The Board is also committed to these principles and fully supports Scholz and Wilcox in their commitment to and execution of them.

Unfortunately, the Associate Editors’ public apology for the publication of an article failed to respect these principles. Their action, appearing to speak for the journal rather than as individuals, invited confusion over who speaks for Hypatia. It also damaged the reputations of both the journal and its Editors, Scholz and Wilcox, and has made it impossible for the Editors to maintain the public credibility and trust that peer reviewed academic journal editorship requires.

We wish to reiterate that neither Hypatia, nor the journal’s Editors, have apologized for or retracted the article in question. We also wish to reaffirm that the Associate Editors did not in any way speak for the journal, nor do they have authority to do so.

As the board ultimately responsible for the well-being of the journal, we find it necessary at this time to take emergency measures to restore the academic integrity of the journal and shepherd it through a transition period to a new editorial team. Thus, we have temporarily suspended the authority of the Associate Editorial Board. As detailed in the Editors’ statement, Sally Scholz has generously offered to continue to take Hypatia issues already in the works through production. Hypatia Reviews Online will be managed through January 1, 2018 by Joan Woolfrey and Simon Ruchti of West Chester University. We hope to announce an Interim Editor shortly. Villanova University is continuing its support of the journal office and Managing Editor until January 1, 2018. We do not forsee any interruption in the operation and publication of Hypatia.

Simultaneously, we are assembling a task force devoted to restructuring Hypatia’s governance in order to create a structure that is conducive to continued academic integrity and appropriate editorial autonomy, while maintaining resources for useful and diverse editorial advice. From this point forward, everyone involved in the governance of Hypatia will be required to commit to COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) principles, which include respect for the autonomy of the Editors and the integrity of the peer review process. We are focused on the future of Hypatia, and we hope to work with many in the Hypatia community and the broader communities of feminist philosophy in making the changes necessary to ensure that this future is a bright and inclusive one.

We are very sorry to see Sally Scholz and Shelley Wilcox depart Hypatia, especially under these circumstances. In their four years as an Editorial team, they have produced journal issues of the highest quality and they have undertaken many creative initiatives to further the cause of feminist philosophy. These include the expansion of Hypatia Reviews Online (tripling the number of book reviews), a major conference on diversity in philosophy, the creation of podcasts and videos to make the work of authors more accessible, and social media initiatives on Facebook and Twitter. They substantially increased the number and diversity of peer-reviewers, the readership of Hypatia, and Hypatia’s citation record. We are proud of what they have accomplished and thank them wholeheartedly for their service. We wish them well in their future endeavors.

Hypatia Board of Directors:
Miriam Solomon, President
Lisa Tessman, Chair
Leslie Francis, Treasurer
Heidi Grasswick, Secretary
Elizabeth Anderson, member at large

The statement is available on the Hypatia website.

For further information, see the controversy’s own Wikipedia page.

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