What the hell is going on? You might occasionally ask yourself that question when confronted with the problems, missteps, malfunctions, and other obstacles that seem to be part of the normal experience of academic life—for example, when you send in an article to a journal and it, and the journal’s staff, seem to vanish. A reader of Daily Nous recently wrote in:
A lot of my work is metaphilosophical. This makes the journal Metaphilosophy a natural venue for my stuff. I really like the journal and a lot of stuff it publishes. Unfortunately, my experience submitting to them is a long way from ideal. The articles I have published with them took over 18 months to receive a first verdict and the articles I currently have with them have been there over 9 months. I send regular requests for information every month or so but all but one or two of these get no response. Maybe this is just my experience, but I suspect not. Does anyone else have stories to share?
I know I could just withdraw and submit elsewhere but that’s not the conversation I want to start here. The discipline really benefits from having a journal for metaphilosophy. It would be really great if it could sort some of these issues out.
Those are excessive wait times, and it is annoying—and possibly career-damaging—to deal with them, especially with an unresponsive editorial staff.
Yet let’s not forget that editing a journal is hard work. I suspect that for most editors, their work often goes not just unappreciated, but unnoticed—until there is something for someone to complain about. So if you have had a good journal experience recently, take a moment and send an appreciative note to the editor(s) there.
I reached out to the journal’s editor, Armen Marsoobian, of Southern State Connecticut University, where Metaphilosophy is housed, to see if I could learn more about what is going on there. He was rather forthcoming, and it isn’t a pretty picture:
Sorry to hear about the complaint. We did have a significant problem last year and earlier this year because the university put in a new spam filtering system called Clutter. Because of funding limitations we rely on a student worker to monitor our e-mail. She was unaware of what was happening and we lost dozens of inquiries over many months. Additionally, other computer-related problems compounded the problem. When complaints have come directly to me, I have tried to follow up promptly but I am human and may have missed a few…