The Curious Case of a Quickly-Published Article


The article was submitted to a peer-reviewed philosophy journal on January 8th, accepted on January 24th, and published online on February 7th. 

That is turnaround time for an academic philosophy article that one can usually only dream of. But was this a lucky and luckily-fast outcome of the normal peer review and editorial process at the journal? Or was it special treatment of some sort or another? Or was it a mistake?

The journal in question is Philosophia, edited by Asa Kasher (Tel Aviv University), and published by Springer.

Browsing over various new articles at the journal, the submission-to-online-pre-issue-publication timing seems relatively ordinary (a look at five recent articles gives a normal timeline range of 5 to 19 months).

So the 1-month timeline for this paper is pretty unusual. But that’s not the only thing unusual about it. There’s also:

  • the paper’s subject matter: pronouns for transgender persons
  • the paper’s complete lack of citations
  • the fact that the paper was written under a pseudonym.

The paper is “A Dilemma Regarding Gendered Pronouns.” Author “Jill Malry” writes in the abstract:

My goal in this short paper is to introduce a dilemma regarding the pronouns ‘ she ’ , ‘ he ’ , and their various declensions. This dilemma arises from the practice, common in the English speaking world and especially the USA, of letting people choose their own pronouns.

The paper was brought to my attention by some philosophers a few weeks ago. It seemed odd that a paper would make it through peer review so quickly, especially a paper with no citations whatsoever, and on such a controversial subject.

Curious, I asked Professer Kasher about it. He replied that the publication of the paper at the time was a mistake. According to his records, the paper was “still under consideration.” He said he would look into it and get back to me.

That’s a strange mistake to happen at a journal. Have you ever heard of an academic manuscript getting accepted, typeset, and published by accident? Aren’t you curious about what step in that process happened by accident? And how?

But okay, mistakes happen, and I put it aside.

A week later, the philosophers who initially let me know about the article wrote to tell me it was still available as one of the “online first” published articles Philosophia.

Again, I thought, that’s strange. But these are challenging times, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising if the correction got displaced by something more pressing; or perhaps the editorial team isn’t in control of what shows up on the publisher’s website, and Springer hasn’t been responsive.

So I wrote again last week to Philosophia‘s editor, asking for an update. I also asked whether this had happened with any other manuscripts.

No reply yet. Just continued mystery.


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