Journal Timelines & Articles on the Pandemic

“Anyone know if any journals will publish things very quickly… in response to the Coronavirus epidemic?” 

So asks Nicole Hassoun, professor of philosophy at Binghamton University.

[Kay Rosen, “Better Days”]

Some journals may. For example, The Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal posted a call for submissions to “a special emergency, open-access issue on Ethics, Pandemics, and COVID-19.” The Journal of Law and the Biosciences is soliciting manuscripts—“especially shorter pieces”—with an accelerated publication schedule. (Thanks to Anthony Kelley and Patrick Lin for these tips.)

If you know of others, please mention them in the comments.

While the urge to publish quickly on this topic is understandable, there is the risk of problems with rushing research, writing, and reviewing. There has been a surge in coronavirus-related submissions to science journals. Reuters reports about some strange theories, noting that “while speedy scientific analysis is highly useful if it’s good, flawed or misleading science can sow panic and may make a disease epidemic worse by prompting false policy moves or encouraging risky behaviour.” The Scientist discusses the burden placed on the reviewing system:

Rozanne Sandri-Goldin, the editor in chief of the Journal of Virology, has also seen an increase in coronavirus submissions. When a limited number of established coronavirus experts are inundated with peer review requests often under tight deadlines, many first-choice reviewers are turning her editors down. “They’re not just being asked by the Journal of Virology: they’re being asked by seven or eight other journals to also review quickly.” She reports reviewers telling the journal, “‘I’m sorry but I’m already reviewing four other manuscripts, I simply can’t do this in the timeframe you’re requesting.’”

[Andrew] Ward [a computational biologist at the Scripps Research Institute] notes that when the established experts such as himself can’t review a coronavirus manuscript, journals “have to go down the food chain to people with lesser experience or no experience in coronaviruses.” This increases the risk of reviewers missing errors in the study design or analysis, which could lead to the spread of inaccurate information.

There are of course differences between philosophical and scientific research and publication, but perhaps the challenges scientific journals are facing can serve as a reminder for the editorial teams of philosophy journals to be cautious even as they are understandably and admirably trying for timeliness.

Beyond the Ivory Tower. Workshop for academics on writing short pieces for wide audiences on big questions. Taking place October 18th to 19th. Application deadline July 30th. Funding provided.
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