The Synthese Editors-in-Chief Strike Back

The Synthese Editors-in-Chief issued a joint statement today about the disclaimer in the special issue. The closest approach to an apology was the following:

Of course, there are lessons to be learnt from what happened regarding our internal procedures, and Synthese will do that.

It’s a ‘Nothing to see here, move along’ sort of thing they have there, at least at first sight. On re-reading that, it can be taken not as an indication of a glimmer of recognition that their response might have gotten it wrong, but rather as an implication that they’ll be tightening down on guest editors.

I did my part to set them straight in the comments:

The EiCs also had a responsibility not to tarnish the reputations of contributors whose work did not have “unacceptable content”. Failure to provide authors with the opportunity to revise or withdraw before being smeared with such a disclaimer as employed by the EiCs is irresponsible and unprofessional, in my opinion. As a contributor to the issue in question, I can attest that at no time did the EiCs contact me with respect to that failed “internal resolution”. We would have opted for withdrawal rather than publish under the conditions that actually took place. At a minimum, the EiCs should have specifically identified the papers they believed to be problematic and not turn the issue into a philosophical “Where’s Waldo?” panel. That would have at least not tainted the rest by the vagueness that obtained in the actual disclaimer. I find the vague disclaimer to be itself highly discourteous, let alone the lack of notice provided to affected contributors whether guilty or innocent of the claimed lapses.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

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