Archive for September 7th, 2010

Dear Journal Editor,

A while back, I received an R&R at your journal.  Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself – an invitation to revise your paper based on the feedback of anonymous reviewers and then resubmit the paper to the same journal that issued the invitation.  If you have experienced this, then you likely know that R&Rs can be a lot of work.  Obviously, an R&R is no guarantee that a paper will eventually be accepted, but it does imply that a paper will be given a fair appraisal upon resubmission.

It turns out that your tenure as editor began while I was hard at work on the aforementioned revisions such that the R&R was invited by the previous editor and the resubmission was submitted to you.  I recognize that a journal editor has considerable influence over the direction of a given journal but I believe that a journal editor also has a responsibility to finish the work that the previous editor has started.  You can imagine, then, how interested I was in receiving word from you three and a half months after my resubmission, which is a relatively quick turn around for reviewers these days.  You can also imagine how surprised I was to find that after three and a half months you had decided to inform me that you would, in fact, not be sending my resubmission to reviewers because it was not in line with the type of research that you were interested in publishing, despite the work of previous reviewers, the previous editor, and myself.

Based on this turn of events, it is reasonable for you to expect me to be bitter.  Thanks to the work of the reviewers at your journal, my paper quickly received a conditional acceptance at another journal where it was recently published.  Publication was a nice validation of the hard work I had put into this paper but my validation did not stop there.  In fact, you may have seen the discussion of my paper in newspapers across the country and you may have heard interviews discussing the paper on the radio.  The paper, it turns out, has gotten quite a bit of media attention, much of which mentions the name of the journal where the paper was published.  That journal is not your own.  I write to you, then, not because I am bitter but because I wish to inform you that, in your effort to further limit the type of work that is published in your journal, you lost.

More generally, situations like this reinforce my decision to work at an institution where tenure depends more on a combination of factors than on the whims of journal editors.  While you are certainly not The Paris Review, I hope that you noticed my work somewhere in the press and felt a pang of regret that your journal was not getting the attention that your previous editor and reviewers made possible.


John Smith

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