By request, here is a post for people to share their journal “horror stories.”
Why? For one thing, it may be a relief to learn that the universe, or at least the journals, are not out to get you in particular. But also, there is the possibility, suggested by one of those making the request, that the stories, in the aggregate, reveal some patterns or issues that we can then figure out how to address.
Before we begin, now would be a good time to invoke my multi-purpose adage, “philosophers are people, too.” That includes the philosophers who are the editors of and referees for academic journals. People make mistakes, people have multiple demand on their time, people get tired, and so on. Further, these people are often volunteers or inadequately compensated, adding to their busy lives the various responsibilities of maintaining a significant portion of our professional ecosystem. So even when we may be sharing stories that reveal their imperfections, I think it is important to register appreciation for all the work they do.
UPDATE (3/2/21): A few complaints in the comments below about Pacific Philosophical Quarterly prompted a reply from Janet Levin (USC), chair of the editorial committee of the journal. In it, she writes:
We recently discovered that, due to a major error in our record-keeping process, over 100 manuscripts submitted to the PPQ over a period of a little over a year were misclassified as having undergone an initial review. There was a confluence of factors that allowed the error to go undetected for so long, some due to COVID-19, some technological, and others due to a diffusion of responsibility in the reviewing process – these factors also contributed to some failures to respond to author inquiries. When we discovered the extent of the problem we made the difficult decision to try to clear the backlog as quickly as possible, and therefore (i) to do an unusually thorough reading of papers during the internal review process to enable us to get results back to authors as quickly as possible, and (ii) not to give comments on papers that we did not send out for external review. We understand the costs of having a paper tied up at a journal for so long, and recognize the burden it places on authors waiting for a response. I take full responsibility for this unfortunate situation and apologize sincerely for our lapse. We are overhauling our processes for submission and evaluation of manuscripts to make sure not only that nothing like this happens again, but also that, going forward, the PPQ can be exemplary in giving authors quick decisions. We will announce more concrete steps in this regard soon, including a new faculty editor who will be taking over after the end of this semester.
UPDATE (3/5/21): Regarding Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy (mentioned in a couple of the comments below), current editor Victor Caston (University of Michigan) reports that this past October he told the journal’s publisher, Oxford University Press, that he would not be seeking to renew his contract with them when it expired. It is now expired, and Professor Caston is maintaining the journal while waiting for OUP to put a new editor or editorial team in place. See also this post at Endoxa from Caleb Cohoe (Metropolitan State University of Denver).
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