Just Ideas? The Status and Future of Publication Ethics in Philosophy: A White Paper

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Just Ideas? The Status and Future of Publication Ethics in Philosophy

A White Paper

Yannik Thiem, Kris F. Sealey, Amy E. Ferrer, Adriel M. Trott, and Rebecca Kennison

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Publication ethics is a crucial part of scholars’ efforts to pursue their scholarly practices in accordance with fundamental principles of research integrity (such as the core principles put forward by The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity: reliability, honesty, respect, and accountability). This project seeks to foster greater awareness among humanities scholars and editors about ethical issues in philosophy publishing. In doing so, we in no way mean to imply that scholars in philosophy and the humanities are not already invested in research integrity. Rather, this project acknowledges that research and publication ethics in the humanities are in many ways and for good reasons complex matters and that, unlike in the sciences, there have not been broad efforts in the humanities to make existing expectations and practices explicit and to develop shared best practices across various subfields and disciplines. This white paper responds to this disparity by providing insight into the current status of publication ethics in philosophy and seeks to offer a starting point for a collective discussion within the philosophical community about what core values and practices might be shared and/or are in need of development.

Scientists have long discussed standards and best practices in research and publication ethics. After all, much of science research involves human subjects and affects individuals, groups, and society either directly or indirectly. Humanities scholars too are committed to core values in research and publishing, including free and rigorous critical inquiry, fairness, respect, honesty, and accountability; and humanities journals, as evidenced by their mission statements, share a commitment to scholarly excellence. But while the sciences have a history of working toward explicit shared standards and standardized procedures (contested as they may be), the humanities have — with good reason — been skeptical and critical of embracing standardization as a goal. Moreover, humanities scholarship is not usually explicitly engaged in human subjects research. Consequently, the ways in which humanities research impacts individuals, groups, and society are complicated.

The importance attributed to well-established review systems currently in use that seek to mitigate bias demonstrates that there is a broadly shared commitment to equity and fairness in the publication process in the humanities. This commitment is tied to the acknowledgment of the weight that publications carry in hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions. Moreover, publications and their reception have further “downstream” implications for shaping the field; they influence what topics, methods, and bodies of knowledge come to be regarded as central, and thus shape curricula and strategic planning in departments and institutions. In other words, publishing practices, especially those of citation and engagement, contribute significantly to the selection and credentialing processes in academic institutions and disciplines. Given these interconnections, publishing has a direct, albeit complex, relationship to issues of marginalization, equity, and diversity in philosophy as a profession. Therefore, questions of authorship, citation, and review practices — which are central to publication ethics — cannot be separated from issues of diversity and equity. Issues of fairness and responsibility arise where research explicitly relates to, draws on, represents, and affects marginalized groups and their experiences.

To better understand the current state of publication ethics in philosophy, the main activities of this project were focused on (a) surveying existing explicit policies and statements on publication ethics of 265 journals in philosophy, (b) convening six focus groups with journal editors and members of American Philosophical Association (APA) leadership committees, and (c) convening two focus groups with representatives from publishers of philosophy journals and from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

Drawing from COPE’s Principles of Transparency and Best Practices in Scholarly Practicing, we surveyed the selected journals according to their publicly available information in fifteen different categories of ethical practices. The results showed that two categories stood out in compliance: more than 85% of journals have publicly available information about copyright licensing and pricing and more than 60% of journals offer clear statements describing the review process that they follow. Between 30% and 40% of journals fulfill the COPE requirement to provide a general ethics statement, a definition of what qualifies as authorship, policies on conflicts of interest, an explicit definition of plagiarism, a policy on redundant publication, and explicit procedures regarding misconduct allegations raised during the review period. Only 15% of journals spell out procedures for how post-publication allegations of misconduct will be handled and what mechanisms are used for post-publication corrections, revisions, or retractions. Fewer than 10% of journals have statements on diversity, and fewer than 5% clarify how post-publication debates will be handled. Only one journal describes what process is available for handling complaints against the journal, editor, or publisher.

After our focus groups and other discussions, it became clear that there was significant divergence in views on what shared principles and best practices for publication ethics in philosophy would look like among the scholars, editors, and publishers with whom we consulted. Included in these divergent views was also resistance to having shared standards at all. Nonetheless, there was wide agreement on the need for clear, publicly available guidelines and policies at the journal level.

Our focus groups and discussions revealed that when it comes to publication ethics and especially to handling instances where potential problems are flagged post-publication, nearly everyone is looking to someone else for guidance. Editors expect referees to identify misconduct; referees seldom know about this expectation or receive training about how to write a review, let alone how to identify cases of misconduct. Editors generally assume that their publishers have policies and procedures for publication ethics in place, while publishers often rely on editors and scholarly societies to determine the standards in their disciplines. While some editors are aware of COPE, there is a general sense that either COPE’s guidelines do not apply to the humanities or that COPE provides explicit standards and policies that cover potential misconduct cases. Finally, we found wide agreement that more diversity of authorship and scholarship is both desired and needed and that current institutional structures inhibit this goal. But the complexity of the obstacles also means that there is currently no clear sense of how to achieve this diversity or how to change the structures that stand in the way.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1: Discuss and disclose

Our first and most important recommendation is that every journal undertake a series of discussions to articulate its values, standards, policies, and procedures as related to publication ethics and diversity (of methodology and of authorship) and to make those values, standards, policies, and procedures publicly available and easily accessible, to the extent feasible. To this end, we provide a set of suggested questions that journals might use as a starting point for their discussions.

Recommendation 2: Take steps to diversify journal leadership

Given the striking lack of demographic diversity among the editors of the journals surveyed, we recommend that journals take steps to diversify their leadership. Our focus group participants observed that if journal leadership included more varied backgrounds, experiences, scholarly traditions, and approaches to research, accomplishing diversity of authorship would flow more easily from that.

Recommendation 3: Encourage collaboration among scholarly societies

We recommend that scholarly societies collaborate on developing shared resources, guidelines, and standards related to publication ethics, including diversity. In the humanities and humanistic social sciences, guidelines and best practices are often developed in response to particular events that spark broader community discussions. As a result, bringing together the varied experiences of scholarly societies, the particular issues that they have encountered, and the guidelines they have established in response may be a fruitful starting point for developing guidance that applies across fields.

Recommendation 4: Continue to improve peer review

Our final recommendation is that there be further exploration of the peer-review system as it is practiced within humanities publishing. Though our project did not focus on peer review, we found that concerns about the peer-review system often dominated the focus groups and other conversations. We encourage journal leaders to consider how their current peer-review practices and policies serve their values and goals. We also encourage journals to consider whether exploring alternative approaches to the peer-review process may be worthwhile — approaches that may not only alleviate burdens within the system, but also correct for the ways in which these burdens are often distributed inequitably. Disciplines and higher education institutions should clarify how much reviewing scholars are expected to do.

We recommend that journals and disciplines develop clearer standards about what is expected of reviewers and clarify the values and goals that they expect reviewers to attend to in their reports. We encourage incorporating training on peer reviewing into graduate programs, which should include specific expectations about professionalism and constructive criticism even (and especially) in cases where one disagrees with the substance of a piece of scholarship. Journals serving communities and subfields with particular standards and needs should consider offering training (in addition to clear written guidelines and expectations) to potential reviewers.

Going Forward

We acknowledge that developing good guidance, standards, and policies is time intensive and requires challenging conversations with boards, editors, and their scholarly communities. From our focus groups and discussions with editors, scholars, and publishers, we gathered that many journals are looking for guidance on how to proceed, but the time involved in developing such policies can keep them from doing so, especially given the existing demands on their time. Support from publishers, scholarly societies, and institutions is very welcome, especially for bringing together editors and other community stakeholders to have the necessary conversations out of which shared understandings, principles, and best practices for ethical research and publishing can emerge collectively.

INTRODUCTION

Among the academic disciplines, the sciences share relatively clear understandings of what ethics in publishing looks like, including standards about proper use of data, institutional review board (IRB) certification, and procedures for corrections.[1] But the humanities generally — and philosophy in particular — have more varied understandings of what ethical scholarship and publication require. While some disciplinary societies in the humanities offer guidance on publication ethics issues, such guidance is limited in a number of humanities fields, including philosophy.

Philosophers and other humanists do make use of the existing standards and core principles of research integrity. Core principles such as reliability, honesty, respect, and accountability are generally embraced in the humanities. The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity articulates these principles in a discipline-agnostic way to capture the common values across all disciplines and areas of research: “Reliability in ensuring the quality of research, reflected in the design, the methodology, the analysis and the use of resources. Honesty in developing, undertaking, reviewing, reporting and communicating research in a transparent, fair, full and unbiased way. Respect for colleagues, research participants, society, ecosystems, cultural heritage and the environment. Accountability for the research from idea to publication, for its management and organisation, for training, supervision and mentoring, and for its wider impacts.”[2]

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the best-known group engaging with publication ethics issues, has developed a set of core practices to guide journal editors and boards in their own internal deliberations on what guidelines, policies, and procedures to adopt for their journal. COPE was formally constituted in 2000, arising out of a set of meetings by editors of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) journals who sought to establish a forum for discussing ethical issues in journal publishing and to provide education and guidance to the scholarly community. In its own words, “COPE is committed to educate and support editors, publishers and those involved in publication ethics with the aim of moving the culture of publishing towards one where ethical practices becomes the norm, part of the publishing culture. Our approach is firmly in the direction of influencing through education, resources and support of our members alongside the fostering of professional debate in the wider community.”[3]

Many of COPE’s core practices and guidelines — such as transparency about the processes and policies to which a journal adheres — are not necessarily specific to STEM research and publishing. That said, most of the guidelines were developed out of discussions in STEM and do not yet address issues that pertain to humanities more particularly.[4] Such issues include, but are not limited to, what exactly constitutes the difference between verbatim plagiarism and plagiarism of ideas in fields where ideas are the scholarly products that are being developed; how differences between responsible engagement and exploitative appropriation of ideas, histories, and experiences might be determined; what might constitute conflicts of interest for authors or reviewers in the humanities specifically; and what (if anything) other than fabrication of sources and plagiarism might cross the line into misconduct in the humanities.

Although COPE has a STEM focus, many philosophy journals already belong to COPE and make use of its resources to varying degrees. Of the 265 philosophy journals that we surveyed, 39.2% are COPE members.[5] Generally COPE-member journals were more likely than non-COPE-member journals to have explicit publicly available policies, as per COPE’s transparency principles and best practices. (Having only internal policies that are not public does not meet those COPE standards). However, not being a COPE member did not necessarily mean that a journal did not have explicit publicly available policies on publication ethics. In many of the 15 categories we surveyed, the difference in adherence to COPE guidelines between COPE and non-COPE member journals was below or around 25%; in some categories the differences were negligible, while in a few categories divergences of more than 30% were observed. Overall, the survey revealed that there is room for improvement across the board, for both COPE-member and non-COPE-member journals alike.

The aim of this project is to foster greater awareness among humanities scholars and editors about ethical issues in philosophy publishing and to provide a starting point for a collective discussion within the community about what core values and practices might be shared and/or developed. Since many journals in philosophy are already members of COPE, this project aims to bring about more active engagement of editors and especially scholars in philosophy in the ongoing discussions and developments of research and publication ethics under the COPE umbrella.

A wide range of ethical issues pertaining to publishing in humanities (including the question of how to address them) came to the fore in 2017 when three publication controversies made headlines.[6] These controversies were unusual in that the issue of misconduct specifically in humanities scholarship and publication rose to public attention in ways that it often does not.[7] Moreover, the publications at the heart of these controversies pertained to issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and the treatment of marginalized and vulnerable populations. What made these controversies so fraught was not only the possible misconduct, but also that they were related to the treatment of marginalized populations both within and beyond the academy.[8]

The informal discussions within the scholarly community spurred by these incidents raised a wide range of complex and intertwined ethical issues, reaching well beyond the specific controversies. Those issues included the following:

General Practices

  • What counts as authorship and co-authorship?
  • What are best practices for citation and attribution?
  • What constitutes the “integrity of the scholarly record” in the humanities?
  • Given that obtaining informed consent is impossible, what are best practices for research in relation to marginalized and vulnerable populations in the humanities without imposing undue (and/or counterproductive) burdens and restrictions?
  • What are best practices for ensuring fairness in the review process?
  • What are best practices for post-publication discussions?
  • What are best practices concerning conflicts of interests in the humanities? What kinds of conflicts of interest can arise in humanities research? Which potential conflicts of interest require disclosure? To whom should conflicts be disclosed?
  • What does ethical conduct demand of reviewers, authors, and editors at the various stages of the publication process?

Ethical Misconduct Concerns

  • What do best practices look like for investigating and addressing allegations of misconduct, especially when identified post-publication?
  • What are best practices for responding to conversations on social media about possible misconduct?
  • What counts as duplicative or redundant publication? Should there be limits on “text recycling” and, if so, what should they be? What counts as self-plagiarism?
  • How should we understand what constitutes plagiarism of ideas? Insofar as ideas always issue from communities of knowledge and collective exchanges, so that there is often no sole originator of an idea, what are the best ways to avoid exploitative appropriation of ideas?
  • What kinds of practices — other than plagiarism — might constitute misconduct warranting correction or retraction?
  • How do we draw the line between improper or irresponsible scholarship (work that is clearly less than ideal but is not unethical) and ethical misconduct in scholarship?

Ethical Inclusion Practices

  • Does a lack of engagement with relevant marginalized scholars and scholarship significantly compromise the results of a study?
  • Under what circumstances may the appropriation of experiences and insights of members of marginalized groups both beyond and within the academy become unethical?
  • How might systemic bias — by authors, reviewers, editors, and the discipline as a whole — compound difficulties in preventing, identifying, and correcting unethical and unreliable scholarship?

Our project was undertaken with the intent of exploring these questions with key stakeholders to understand the current state of affairs within academic philosophy and identify strategies to develop more shared understandings — as well as possible policies and guidelines — to address publication ethics concerns within the discipline.

As a starting point for publication ethics, this project took as its point of departure COPE’s description of its purpose: “to preserve and promote the integrity of the scholarly record through policies and practices that reflect the current best principles of transparency and integrity.”[9] While, as noted above, the humanities generally and philosophy specifically have not engaged in as robust a discussion of principles and best practices of publication ethics as STEM fields have, the general agreement is that scholarship should be published based on the quality of the research.[10] As we would expect, a variety of approaches to determining what constitutes quality scholarship and how quality is best ascertained can be found in the field. Well-established peer-review procedures aim to ensure impartiality, so that the social position of the author — such as identity, rank, institutional affiliation, and name recognition in the field or lack thereof — are neither an obstacle to nor facilitator of publication.[11] Hence, there is a broadly shared commitment to equity and fairness in the publication process. Authors, reviewers, and everyone involved in the research and publication process are expected to follow principles of academic honesty, especially by avoiding exploitative appropriations of ideas and words of others.

This widely shared sense of the importance of fairness in the publication process reflects an awareness of how integral publishing is within academia and especially how publishing in well-regarded journals is tied to hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions. Publications and their reception have further “downstream” implications for shaping the field in terms of influencing what topics, methods, and bodies of knowledge that come to be regarded as central and hence worthy of shaping curricula and strategic planning in departments and institutions. This project is not assuming a monocausal relationship between publications and these broader structural and institutional implications. But as long as publications are central to hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions, publishing will continue to have a direct relationship to issues of marginalization, equity, and diversity in philosophy as a profession. Therefore, questions of authorship, citation, and review practices — which are central to publication ethics — cannot be separated from issues of diversity and equity. Further, issues of fairness and responsibility arise where research explicitly relates to, draws on, represents, and affects marginalized groups and their experiences.[12]

To better understand the current state of publication ethics in philosophy and to foster more extensive conversations that could lead to shared standards and expectations, this project conducted (1) a survey of existing explicit policies and statements on publication ethics of 265 journals in philosophy, (2) a set of in-person and virtual focus groups with journal editors and members of American Philosophical Association (APA) leadership committees, and (3) a set of focus groups with representatives from publishers of philosophy journals and representatives from COPE. Additionally, we (4) convened scholar conversations at the 2018 APA divisional meetings open to any attendee and invited feedback via the project website and (5) collected and examined the existing literature on publication ethics, especially with respect to the humanities and philosophy, which resulted in an extensive bibliography. At all stages of the project the bibliography was available on the project website and the team encouraged and received recommendations from the community regarding additions to it. Finally, we (6) convened a conversation with leaders from other scholarly societies in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to understand how our findings compare to the ongoing conversations in the humanities more broadly and to discuss next steps.[13]

REASON FOR THE PROJECT

In our initial investigations, we noted that in the humanities in particular there is a dearth of the kinds of policies commonly found in the sciences and social sciences, which have established paths for determining the unreliability of research findings and rectifying unethical research, such as correcting and retracting articles.[14] What such unreliable or unethical research means in humanities fields requires further elaboration to ensure that the highest ethical standards are understood and achieved in research in these disciplines.[15] The issues raised about the ethics of publication in philosophy in particular prompted the question of what guidelines for publication ethics and best practices might be established for philosophy and the humanities.

In investigating, broadening, and clarifying understandings of ethical conduct and best practices for scholarly research in the humanities in general, and for philosophy in particular, our project has been especially interested in work on and by marginalized groups, including but not limited to inclusive citation and engagement practices, peer-review practices, and scholarly consideration of the effect of the research being undertaken on those most affected by that scholarship. Our project has raised questions around what concrete manifestations of principles for ethical research in the humanities would be, such as the concepts of respect, beneficence, and justice that guide human subjects research. What would the version of the Georgetown Kennedy Institute of Ethics guidelines — autonomy, justice, non-maleficence (do no harm), and beneficence (do good)[16] — be in the context of the work that we do in philosophy?

But even in the sciences and social sciences, where there is clear guidance for human subjects research involving marginalized populations, there is no substantive guidance regarding the impact of citation and engagement practices and of other forms of bias with respect to scholars who are members of marginalized groups within those disciplines. Given that all these issues are also at stake in the discussions that our project is taking up, addressing publication ethics and its impact on marginalized groups within the academy could potentially be an area where advancing publication ethics in the humanities could make a contribution to the sciences and social sciences as well.

As mentioned above, several controversies in the last several years brought humanities and social science publishing into the headlines. Subsequent discussions within the academy sharpened questions about what different forms of scholarly misconduct may occur in humanities research and how those should be addressed.[17] We have deliberately chosen philosophy for our study, not only because two of these controversies happened to be in philosophy, but also because there is already a discussion underway of the relationship between issues of diversity (of all kinds) and publishing practices in the discipline.[18]

The existing discussions and efforts in philosophy often focus specifically on the demographics of philosophers, particularly on increasing the number of scholars from underrepresented groups and raising the visibility of their scholarship. This is a much-needed conversation. According to its reported demographics from 2016, the membership of the APA skews very strongly white (76.4%) and male (74.6%).[19] Such demographics have historically made it challenging to address concerns related to the ethics of diversity within the discipline of philosophy and to rethink publishing practices that have traditionally favored white males, with an eye toward new practices and standards that would instead enable and encourage broader inclusion that is more representative not simply of the discipline but of the broader population.

Part of the problem to date within the discipline of philosophy has been that issues of diversity have been regarded as external or secondary to the most highly regarded methods and practices of philosophical scholarship. The recent controversies precipitated an important reexamination of what constitutes ethical practices in publishing in philosophy, especially when it comes to the treatment of marginalized populations and the scholarship produced by members of these groups.

Many scholars have come to see demographic issues within philosophy as part of a broader need to clarify the ethical standards for producing and circulating scholarship in the discipline.[20] These circumstances make conducting our study within this particular discipline all the more compelling because, though other disciplines may share a similar concern with clarifying ethical conduct in scholarly communication, these issues are often not present as tangibly and as prominently as they currently are in philosophy.[21]

METHODOLOGY

Our research approach to this project was multifaceted, and consisted of the following: (1) a survey of existing publicly available policies and statements on publication ethics of 265 journals in philosophy, (2) a set of in-person and virtual focus groups with journal editors and members of APA leadership committees, (3) a set of focus groups with representatives from publishers of philosophy journals and representatives from COPE, (4) conversations with the broader community via in-person meetings and the project website, (5) an extensive review of the literature on publication ethics (especially in philosophy and the humanities), and (6) a discussion with leaders from other scholarly societies in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to understand how our findings compare to the ongoing conversations in the humanities more broadly and to discuss next steps. We describe each of these steps below.

Journal Database Data and Summary

To begin our work, we developed a “master list” of 265 highly regarded philosophy journals. That list was compiled from resources provided by the APA and the second-largest U.S.-based philosophy society, the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy; from sources of top journals such as Journal Citation Reports and SCImago; and from influential lists of journals considered crucial to philosophy developed by Thom Brooks, Mark Colyvan, S. Kate Devitt, and Brian Leiter.[22] We supplemented the list with journals we ourselves considered key to our analysis even if they did not appear on other lists. There are, of course, many more journals in the broader universe of philosophy publishing than we could include in our project, but we believe that we have included all of the journals that most philosophers would agree constitute the core of the professional corpus.

We then reviewed publicly available information for each journal on our list to determine which policies each had that adhered to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines for scholarly journals. Specifically, we looked for policies or statements in the categories listed below; these categories are based on the core practices and criteria for ethical practices in journal publishing currently set out by COPE.[23] We added the issue of diversity, which COPE started to take up in the Fall 2018 in the context of its annual “Peer Review Week” and which has become a focus since, one of a number of recent initiatives to encourage diversity and inclusion in academic publishing.[24]

  • Ethics/misconduct statement
  • Clear policy for addressing allegations of author or reviewer misconduct (especially allegations raised by readers and/or the community after publication)
  • Explicit guidelines for authorship/contributorship
  • Clearly described process for handling complaints against the journal, editor, publisher
  • Clear definitions of conflicts of interest and attention to conflicts[25]
  • Explicit statement on what constitutes ethical conduct for the journal (including guidelines on publications concerning vulnerable populations)
  • Explicit information about copyright licensing and pricing (e.g., hybrid open-access costs)[26]
  • Explicit statement as to what counts as pre-publication that will preclude consideration for publishing
  • Clear definition of plagiarism
  • Clear definition of overlapping/redundant publication
  • Transparent peer-review processes
  • Clear policies for handling allegations of conflicts or potential misconduct brought up during review
  • Clear mechanisms to allow debate post-publication
  • Clear mechanisms for correcting, revising, or retracting papers post-publication
  • Guidelines on diversity

While journals may have some such policies that are for internal use only, to be counted in our study as following the COPE “Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing,” journals needed to have a publicly available policy or link to the specific policy on the publisher’s site (merely linking to the publisher’s homepage was not sufficient). Mentioning that the journal abides by their publishers’ codes of ethics or COPE was insufficient to count as having a clear journal-specific policy, as required by COPE. That said, we do not infer from the absence of publicly available policies that such policies do not exist at all. But since COPE specifies that these policies should be clearly visible on a journal’s website, policies available only internally to a journal’s editors or publisher do not meet COPE’s standards.[27]

Editors Focus Groups

We identified the editors-in-chief or co-editors of the journals in our database and issued several rounds of invitations to them via email, first to participate in in-person focus groups at one of the three APA divisional meetings and then (if they were unable to attend one of those) to participate in virtual focus groups held via Zoom. They were all also invited to provide us feedback via a comment form on the project website or via email. In all, we contacted 421 editors and reached out to each of them at least three times to elicit their feedback unless they requested to be removed from the solicitation list.

We then organized a series of focus groups of editors and leaders in the profession. Three focus groups were held at the three APA divisional meetings in early 2018, followed by three virtual focus groups held via Zoom. For these focus groups, invitations were extended to every editor we had identified in the previous steps of the process, as well as members of the APA board of directors and key APA committees (Committee on Inclusiveness in the Profession, Committee on the Status and Future of the Profession, Committee on Lectures, Publications, and Research, etc.).

Our focus group research protocol was originally submitted on November 8, 2017, as an Exempt proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Fairfield University, the home institution of our lead principal investigator, both to ensure our ethical and legal obligations were met and to enable us to obtain permission from participants to publish the anonymized and aggregated results of the discussions. Although the Fairfield IRB determined on November 28, 2017, that we were not subject to IRB oversight, we nevertheless followed the protocol we had submitted.

At the start of each focus group meeting, we discussed the specific confidentiality arrangements and expectations of the meeting. Participants were informed that the nature of a focus group was such that full confidentiality could not be guaranteed because participants’ identities were known to other focus group participants and the facilitators could not guarantee that others in these groups would respect the confidentiality of the group. The focus groups in this project also differed from other focus groups in that participants were being invited to contribute to the conversations on publication ethics that are already happening more broadly (e.g., relevant panel discussions at the APA meetings about peer review and underrepresented groups, projects looking at demographics and authorship in philosophy journals, etc.). Since it is crucial for generating change in practices that individuals return to their communities, have further conversations, and get broader feedback and involvement, we did not want to put undue restrictions on conversations that might be sparked by discussions within the focus groups. At the same time we also considered confidentiality important to ensure a fully open conversation and in particular to facilitate necessary internal conversations pertaining to policies in formation among editorial teams and boards.

Specifically, we clarified at the beginning of each session that, by attending, participants agreed that they would not discuss the identities or journal affiliations of the individuals who made comments or were referred to during the focus group. Participants were informed that if individuals were to specify that a particular comment should not be mentioned beyond the room, participants agreed to respect that. Otherwise, participants were invited to discuss ideas and thoughts in a general manner in accordance with the Chatham House Rule.[28] Participants were allowed to discuss ideas on social media after the end of the focus group session, but they were asked to refrain from making any live updates on social media during the session in order to minimize the possibility that the confidentiality of participants could be compromised.

We also specified at the start of each focus group an emendation to the Chatham House Rule that we felt was necessary, especially given that one of the ethical practices that this project is concerned with is proper attribution. In the case that participants might wish to use ideas of others that were generated in the focus group in a public venue (e.g., in an article or a blog post), they are expected to check with the person who contributed the idea to secure permission to present that idea and to sort out what proper attribution entails. The core project team offered to facilitate such engagements, should a participant be unable recall who brought up a particular idea and with whom to check about proper attribution.

In our focus groups, we facilitated a discussion based on the questions at the center of this project:

  • Do editors’ and referees’ assumptions and decisions about what counts as real philosophy affect diversity (of topics, authors, styles, etc.) in the journals you work most closely with? If so, how?
  • In the sciences, there are explicit guidelines and shared understandings about when and how a piece of scholarship should be corrected or retracted. Are there similar understandings and guidelines in philosophy/the humanities? If not, should there be?
  • What constitutes plagiarism? Is there anything other than plagiarism that constitutes misconduct in philosophy that means an article should be corrected or retracted?
  • Who is responsible for discovering, preventing, and addressing misconduct? What (if any) mechanisms do we need to address allegations of misconduct that occur after publication?
  • How would you describe ethical research and citation practices, especially in scholarship pertaining to and affecting marginalized groups? Should journals offer guidance to encourage inclusive engagement with marginalized bodies of scholarship? If yes, how could they accomplish this?
  • What do you think are the main obstacles that make it difficult to accomplish diversity of authorship in journals? Are there practices that you know of or that journals have experimented with to address this situation?

In our first focus group, we found that participants did not have ready responses to our initial questions, so in subsequent focus groups we started each section of the discussion with a series of short poll statements (we referred to them as “intuition pumps”) based on the key question(s) for that section. Participants anonymously indicated whether they agreed or disagreed with these statements using PollEverywhere. The “intuition pump” statements included the following:

  • My journal’s expectations regarding style of argumentation are clear to authors and referees.
  • Someone I know has had a paper rejected from a journal for not being sufficiently philosophical.
  • Judgments about whether an article is “real philosophy” can limit diversity in the discipline and in authorship.
  • Most philosophers agree it is plagiarism to use an idea first proposed by their grad student during a conversation with them without referencing that conversation.
  • Journal editors know how to proceed when they receive an allegation of scholarly misconduct.
  • Journal editors expect authors to cite work by underrepresented scholars in the field.
  • My editorial board has discussed or is planning to discuss potential policies/guidelines for authors around addressing and including marginalized groups.

We displayed the aggregated responses to these statements to the focus group participants as a beginning point for the conversation. For example, the poll revealed that nearly every participant agreed that they or someone they know has had a paper rejected for not being sufficiently philosophical. This observation then helped jumpstart the conversation about what kinds of scholarship and which methodologies were most likely to be judged insufficiently philosophical, how those judgments might have implications for diversity in publishing, and whether those judgments might disproportionately impact publication of work by members of marginalized groups.

Publishers Focus Groups

As we conducted the focus groups with editors and scholars, it became clear early on that many journal editors looked to their publishers for guidance on handling misconduct, developing policies and procedures, and understanding the demographics of their submissions and publications. We therefore organized two focus groups of representatives from publishers of philosophy journals. Using our list of 265 journals,[29] we invited representatives from all 44 publishers of those journals as well as a representative from COPE to attend an in-person focus group held in New York at the CUNY Graduate Center; those who could not attend in person were invited to participate in a virtual focus group. (Self-published journals were not included in the publisher group because those journals had already been invited to participate via one of the editors groups.) The in-person and virtual groups both contained representatives from a mix of publishers: large and small commercial publishers, large and small university presses, large and small library-based publishers, and hosting services. We held these focus groups after we had concluded our conversations with journal editors and leaders in the profession so that we could ensure we had first heard fully from the philosophy community. We worked under the same rules for confidentiality in these publishers focus groups as in the editors focus groups.

In the publishers focus groups, we again started with “intuition pump” statements to help us (and the publishers themselves) understand how they perceive scholars’ and editors’ experiences, and how closely their own perceptions align with the scholars’ and editors’. The “intuition pump” statements in the publishers focus groups included the following:

  • A journal’s expectations regarding style of argumentation are clear to authors and referees.
  • Judgments about whether an article is “real philosophy” can limit diversity in the discipline and in authorship.
  • Nearly all philosophers know someone who has had a paper rejected from a philosophy journal because it was not considered real philosophy.
  • Referees look for scholarly misconduct when they review an article manuscript.
  • Most philosophers believe plagiarism is only one form of a variety of forms of scholarly misconduct that are possible in philosophy.
  • Editorial boards have discussed or are planning to discuss potential policies/guidelines for authors around addressing and including marginalized groups.

We then presented some initial findings and takeaways from the focus groups with editors and scholars, and used those as a starting point for the conversations with the publishers. The key questions we asked of the publishers focus groups were the following:

  • In what ways are humanities different from STEM in terms of ethical challenges and practices?
  • What humanities-specific policies/guidelines do you have in place? If you are “discipline-agnostic” in your approach, why? Have you run into any problems with the “discipline-agnostic” approach?
  • What would be considered conflicts of interest in the humanities context?
  • What policies (if any) do you recommend to your journal editors for handling post-publication discussions? How are the policies about who responds developed and how are they communicated to relevant parties?
  • Do you have plans in place for what to do should discussions escalate on social media post-publication? At what point do you determine that a response is required? Who is responsible for a response?
  • What advice or training do you give editors concerning how to handle social media criticisms and controversies?
  • What data/technologies do you have in place or can be put into place to better help journals understand publication patterns, including diversity of all kinds (e.g., demographics, professional rank, topics)?
  • What training do you provide to editors, especially in terms of publication ethics? When does such training take place? What about “refresher courses” for those who have been editors for several years?
  • What modes of communication do you use to let editors know about new guidelines they may need to take into account to develop their own journal policies (e.g., the use of preprint servers)?
  • What training (if any) do you offer in publication ethics for authors, reviewers, editorial boards?
  • What guidelines (if any) do you provide for pertaining to marginalized or vulnerable populations? What does accountability to marginalized and vulnerable populations look like for humanities research?
  • How can publishers help ameliorate the marginalization of underrepresented groups and bodies of knowledge in the humanities?
  • What training (if any) do you provide to help editors understand when corrections or retractions might be appropriate actions to take?

Conversation with Scholarly Society Leaders

After the last publishers focus group, we had sufficient funds remaining to hold one final conversation — this time with leaders of scholarly societies in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. We invited participants from the American Academy of Religion (AAR), American Association of Geographers (AAG), American Historical Association (AHA), American Sociological Association (ASA), Latin American Studies Association (LASA), Linguistics Society of America (LSA), Modern Language Association (MLA), National Communication Association (NCA), and Society for Classical Studies (SCS). In the end, the AAR, AAG, and MLA were unable to send representatives, but all other invited organizations did and all the societies we contacted indicated interest in the project and in continuing the conversations.

At this meeting, we presented initial findings and takeaways from our focus groups (both editors and publishers) and explored the society leaders’ reactions to these findings and whether they resonated with their respective disciplines. We also began to uncover areas in which scholarly societies might be able to collaborate to address certain aspects of the issues we identified through our focus groups, and inquired about the society leaders’ interest in potentially participating in future stages of this project.

FINDINGS AND TAKEAWAYS

The following section outlines our major findings and takeaways — first from the journals survey, then from the editors/scholars focus groups, and finally from the publishers focus groups. For each, we have grouped our takeaways by the discussion questions used. At the end of the section, we also discuss input we received from non-focus-group settings, including informal scholars conversations, feedback via the project site, and blog discussions of the project.

Survey of Publicly Available Journal Policies

We reviewed the publicly available policies and statements of the 265 journals in our study as a starting point in identifying the extent to which philosophy journals articulate their policies on publication ethics and endorse what are taken to be standard ethical policies within the broader scholarly community based on the categories that comprise COPE’s transparency and best practices.[30]

We found that most journals lack publicly available policies in these areas. In the following discussion, we focus on observations that apply across the board to the journals we reviewed, but we also point out some observations regarding salient differences between COPE-member and non-COPE-member journals.

Only 38.5% of the journals we surveyed had a publicly available ethics or misconduct statement. Journals often mentioned plagiarism and conflicts of interest without defining them, and even if they defined these concepts, they usually lacked publicly available policies on how to proceed with an allegation of plagiarism or conflict of interest discovered during the review process (28.3% had a clear policy for addressing allegations of misconduct). Similarly, while journals often requested that submissions be prepared for anonymous review, more than a third did not publicly specify the actual review process that they follow — for example, how many referees the manuscript is sent to, how many positive judgments are required for acceptance or “revise and resubmit,” or whether one negative review is sufficient for rejection (61.1% had a transparent review process). Few journals (15.1%) had a clear protocol for how to proceed if a reader or an author suspects unethical activity either in the peer-review process or after publication. Even more rare — essentially non-existent — were policies about how to proceed if a reader, author, or reviewer suspects unethical conduct on the part of the journal, editor, or publisher.[31] Also rare (20.8%) were publicly available statements about what is considered to be pre-publication (e.g., an earlier blog post, a draft version posted on a personal website or on a preprint server) that would preclude consideration for publishing.

Also uncommon (17.7%) were public statements or policies about what, for the journal, constitutes ethical conduct regarding scholarship concerning vulnerable populations, both as authors and as the subject of the research. These omissions meant that most journals lacked a publicly available procedure that graduate students or junior scholars who suspect that their ideas have been plagiarized by advisors or reviewers could follow to seek recourse. Similarly, it meant that journals lacked policies by which one could raise concerns about how a piece of scholarship treats the subjects of its research (particularly members of marginalized groups) or about adequate attention being paid to work done by members of marginalized groups.

Even rarer still (6.8%) were guidelines on diversity (for instance, anything approximating the principle “Nothing about us, without us” for policies and research on vulnerable populations, or resembling De Cruz’s “Bechdel test” for philosophy,[32] which encourages authors not only to cite but also substantially engage with work by female authors). Such guidelines are not explicitly required by COPE, but might be a way to foster more diversity in philosophy publishing.

The most consistent compliance to COPE standards was in the form of publicly available information about copyright licensing and pricing, including hybrid open-access costs (86.4% of all journals, 97.1% of journals that are COPE members and 79.5% of journals that are not COPE members). The strikingly high compliance rate in this area was a clear outlier. The next highest compliance was in transparency regarding description of the journal’s peer-review process (61.1% of all journals, 79.8% of COPE member journals and 49.1% of non-COPE member journals). Otherwise, excluding copyright licensing and peer-review process policies, the proportion of journals adhering to COPE standards for any particular category of policy or procedure that COPE currently requires ranged from 0% to 38.5% among all journals (0% to 57.7% among COPE members and 0.6% to 26.9% among non-COPE members). The fact that copyright licensing and pricing information are by far the single area of greatest compliance suggests that journals can have explicit guidelines when publishers encourage such guidelines across the board.

Focus Groups of Editors and Scholars

Our six focus groups of editors and philosophers interrogated the following questions.

Do editors’ and referees’ assumptions and decisions about what counts as “real” philosophy affect diversity (of topics, authors, styles, etc.) in the journals you work most closely with? If so, how?

Most participants in the focus groups agreed that assumptions about what counts as “real philosophy” affect diversity in journals. There was broad agreement that diversity cannot mean solely diversity of the demographics of authors, but must also mean diversity of styles, approaches, and topics as well.

The problem of achieving diversity in published work was often seen as primarily one of journals receiving insufficiently diverse submissions. Some participants argued that philosophical publishing must hold on to some basic assumptions about what counts as philosophy and what does not. There was general agreement that journals serving a particular subfield need to be able to define what kinds of scholarship are appropriate for them to consider. But a number of participants found that these distinctions, while often necessary at least to some extent, are too narrow, restrictive, or generally problematic. One scholar remarked that an article might be considered philosophy, but not “core philosophy,” and several noted that when scholars receive such feedback from editors of generalist journals, scholars are less inclined in the future to offer their work to such journals for possible publication. In other words, a number of participants identified these assumptions about what does or does not count as philosophy as factors that negatively impact the diversity of scholarship in the field.

Several editors noted that it can be difficult for editors to find appropriate reviewers, particularly for interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary scholarship. A few editors mentioned that they had positive experiences with letting authors identify potential referees for their work, because these author recommendations gave them a better sense of the kind of scholar who would serve as an ideal reader. Even though all of those editors emphasized being skeptical about using these suggested reviewers at first, they reported being impressed by the level of detail, rigor, and judiciousness of the reviews that they received from them. The editors who had used author suggestions also reported that, in their judgment, referees who were suggested by the author were no more or less likely than other reviewers to make either negative or positive recommendations regarding publication.[33] However, focus group participants also generally agreed that editors should check these suggestions carefully[34] and that they should not rely on author recommendations exclusively, since that practice could give an advantage to scholars with greater or more prestigious networks.[35]

Several editors and scholars observed that the publication process and the emphasis by administrators on publishing in certain highly rated journals can have a homogenizing effect in terms of topics and style. One editor remarked that this situation can lead scholars to “[end] up with papers that are not theirs.” Another editor pointed out that authors feel pressured to write in “a style of articulation that resonates with an editor, e.g., writing like a white man” in order to get published. Many editors therefore suggested that greater attention and openness to stylistic differences would be an important step toward diversifying authorship and scholarship. Moreover, an editor raised the question of best practices regarding work by “authors from other countries who often write in styles very different than we’re used to seeing.” Other scholars and editors echoed that if more widely international contributions are desired, then it is important for journals to develop clearer guidance on how to handle submissions by authors from different scholarly traditions and contexts.[36]

These different perspectives led to discussions about how to diversify submissions and how to effectively communicate the message that a particular journal was open to and eager for submissions from a particular area that had not previously been published (much) in that journal. Several journal editors reported that publishing work in different methods or on underrepresented topics and traditions sends a positive and strong signal about the kind of work that the journal is seeking to publish.

 

In the sciences, there are more explicit guidelines and shared understandings about when and how a piece of scholarship should be corrected or retracted. Are there similar understandings and guidelines in philosophy / the humanities? If not, should there be?

When thinking about the issue of correcting or retracting a piece of scholarship, editors in philosophy understand this question primarily as one about what sanctions should be imposed on individual scholars for transgressions. There was not a strong sense among editors that this question pertained to editors being responsible for “preserv[ing] and promot[ing] the integrity of the scholarly record” (as COPE puts it) or that editors are mainly responsible for what work receives the official imprimatur of the field.

Editors in our focus groups generally held the view that once a piece of scholarship has made it through the peer-review process, it is not possible to question its status as a legitimate part of the scholarly record, barring misconduct such as data falsification or verbatim plagiarism. One concern that is relevant to this view is editors’ acknowledgment of the difficulties in finding qualified reviewers and the limited guidance given to reviewers regarding a journal’s specific expectations for reviews. Generally, conversations with editors revealed (1) concerns about the existing peer-review system and the way that reviewing work is undervalued, and (2) overall hesitation to question the legitimacy of scholarship after it has successfully gone through peer review.

The commitment to the idea that “what has passed the peer-review process should stand as part of the public record” might stem from philosophers valuing open discussions, which — as editors emphasized — should mean that, in principle, everything should be available for argument and debate. Hence, replies (rather than corrections or retractions) were favored by editors in our focus groups as the appropriate way to respond to potentially problematic pieces of scholarship. Most editors in our focus groups felt that unless there is a clear-cut case of verbatim plagiarism of already published work, the right way to handle scholarship that is considered problematic in some way is for another scholar to rebut it with a reply article that also goes through the peer-review process. Acknowledging that sometimes this approach can in itself be problematic, editors discussed how journals can create spaces for replies or responses that are not subject to the full peer-review process in order to achieve greater equity.

The reliance on reply articles as perhaps the only post-publication process available to correct the scholarly record raised the further issue of who writes the replies. As one editor remarked, “It shouldn’t be the job of women and underrepresented minorities to need to correct the issues all the time.” Expecting women and minorities to write rebuttal articles to scholarship they consider problematic with respect to how the work in question cites, engages, and represents minority populations potentially puts an undue burden on women and underrepresented minority scholars, as they often must interrupt their own research to generate reply articles. Moreover, questions were raised about whether it is better to forego writing reply articles, since replies generate citations to the original article, which then tends to have the effect of further legitimizing the problematic publication. Generally, participants acknowledged the complexity of these interrelated issues and their effects on equity, diversity, and inclusiveness.

There was no clear sense that correction of the article itself is something that can happen in philosophical scholarship — although corrections are issued on occasion. Retraction is viewed as punitive and extreme, to be used only in the clearest and most egregious of cases, e.g., verbatim plagiarism that cannot be explained by anything other than deliberate misconduct.

Generally there was agreement among editors that greater clarity and guidance across the field to aid journals in developing their individual policies, standards, and guidelines in this area would be welcome.

 

What constitutes plagiarism? Is there anything other than plagiarism that constitutes misconduct in philosophy / the humanities that means an article should be corrected or retracted?

Initially, participants’ general sense was that, with the exception of plagiarism, nothing counts as misconduct that rises to the level where correction, revision, or retraction is appropriate. In the early parts of each of the focus group sessions, a significant number of participants did not have a concept of plagiarism as anything other than verbatim plagiarism.

After some discussion, however, in which participants often brought up that student codes of conduct define plagiarism more broadly than verbatim plagiarism alone, most focus group participants agreed that plagiarism of ideas was also problematic. Few, though, had a clear sense about where to draw the line between irresponsible scholarship (i.e., something that is not a good practice but should not be subject to correction or sanctions) and misconduct (i.e., an ethical and professional violation that should be corrected and addressed through some formal process), even when it came to plagiarism of ideas.

Several participants observed that while philosophers teach their students that plagiarism includes the unacknowledged taking of ideas, philosophers as scholars struggle much more with discerning, in their own work, instances that involve taking ideas without proper acknowledgement. Various editors pointed to the issue that scholars may end up assuming and claiming the originality of their ideas unintentionally because they may have not read other work where these ideas are elaborated, especially in areas outside philosophy or in work by marginalized scholars.

Editors raised the need for more discussion and guidance on a range of issues connected to the plagiarism of ideas, including whether taking ideas from conversations with graduate students is worse than taking ideas from casual conversations with colleagues or whether it is even possible to know where an idea may have originated.[37] One participant pointed out that systemic issues of power and equity should be central when we consider what renders appropriations exploitative: “We should not conceive of an atomism of ideas. Ideas develop in social contexts; they are not reducible to this or that person ‘owning’ them. The real issue here is power and disparities of power.” Multiple participants shared this sentiment. When it comes to the acknowledgement and attribution of ideas, a key issue is that publications and citations are “the coin of the realm” insofar as they are crucial to credentialing, hiring, tenure, and promotion.[38]

A significant number of participants also shared their own experiences of having identified fairly clear cases of plagiarism of their ideas, such as having their work being taken by someone who was almost certain to have been a reviewer on a rejected article submission. Participants further shared experiences of having pursued various institutional procedures or having taken informal steps to address this plagiarism of their work. In nearly all cases, the outcome was that the identified instance of plagiarism was allowed to remain, with no correction or professional consequences for the accused plagiarizer. While the sample size of those relaying these accounts was not large enough to draw generalizable conclusions, it was notable that many of those reporting these experiences were scholars from underrepresented groups, and all were either graduate students or early career scholars at the time of the incident.

In several focus group sessions, the conversations about plagiarism led into discussions of “self-plagiarism” or “text recycling.”[39] It was pointed out that scholars often reuse paragraphs from their own work as a way to succinctly establish basic concepts and ideas that they have already worked out elsewhere. One editor noted, “It is always fine for authors to cite their own work and clarify how they have updated and renewed the argument in the present article.” Other editors concurred that transparency is crucial and journals should clarify the amount of reused material that they consider acceptable and at what point they would consider a submission as duplicative. One editor raised the issue that in an anonymous review process text-recycling of entire passages and paragraphs by an author may either inadvertently disclose the author’s identity to the reviewer or lead the reviewer to suspect plagiarism. Even if an author is transparent in acknowledging how extensively they rephrase passages from their own previously published work, this effort in transparency raises the issue of how to do so without undermining anonymity in the review process.

Some participants also raised issues of equity with respect to reusing one’s own text — the concern was not so much about misconduct, but about broader research, publication, and credentialing practices. As these individuals pointed out, more established scholars who have more of their own published material to draw on then also have more material to recycle. Reusing text then may also lead to their being able to generate more submissions and potentially more publications in a shorter time — in part because, as editors confirmed, it takes less time to find referees for articles written in a more mainstream paradigm. In turn, as one participant argued, that dynamic can lead to reinforcement of certain ideas, ways of thinking, and styles of writing as more mainstream, which means that those who seek not only to articulate different ideas but also to use a different style and paradigm spend even more time making that work intelligible to more mainstream discourses and venues. Alternatively, those scholars may seek to publish in alternative venues that are less likely to be read and taken up by the “main” or “core” journals in the discipline.

Participants in all focus groups generally underscored that these issues of publication ethics cannot be decoupled from formal mechanisms of evaluation, hiring, tenure, and promotion, nor from informal mechanisms of social prestige in the academy. One editor commented that generally we have seen a shift toward valuing publishing one’s own thoughts at the expense of reading, let alone carefully studying the work of other scholars who are not famous or who publish in less prestigious venues. Other editors raised concerns about how the increased emphasis on counting numbers of publications has disincentivized work on translations, critical editions, and the curation of marginalized works.

As the discussions proceeded in each focus group, there was quickly general agreement that there can be other forms of misconduct than plagiarism, especially in relation to scholarship related to marginalized groups and citation practices. For example, an editor suggested that “under-informed papers” — along the lines of “if the famous people in my head have not talked about this idea, then no one’s talked about it” — may constitute a form of misconduct. A similar form of misconduct warranting correction may be, according to another editor, “overselling one’s own contribution…. I don’t know how to know the difference between citation failure and plagiarism.” Excessive self-citation was mentioned as another possible practice that could cross the line to misconduct (and warrant correction).[40] An editor brought up slurs and hate speech as potential issues warranting correction or retraction. (We note here that terms can become identified as slurs in ways that work against marginalized voices when they try to call attention to oppressive positions, and so vigilance about what counts as slur is required.) An editor argued — and multiple editors agreed — that “correct representation of settled science and of historical and empirical facts” should be a baseline standard for reliable and ethical scholarship.

But editors and scholars were very uncertain about where to draw the line between less-than-ideal scholarly practices and scholarly misconduct, and emphasized that their publishers are the ones to whom they would look for guidance on this matter. Very often, the concerns of editors about addressing ethical problems in publications immediately turned to a concern about not wanting to be in the business of sanctioning and punishing peers. That concern may be related to the fact that, as mentioned above, editors generally did not appear to have a strong sense that “preserving and promoting the integrity of the scholarly record” was one of their key charges. Instead, as has already been noted, the general expectation among editors and scholars was that corrections of the scholarly record in philosophy should happen by way of subsequent publications.

 

Who is responsible for discovering, preventing, and addressing misconduct? What if any mechanisms do we need to address allegations of misconduct that occur after publication?

Most participants in our focus groups looked to referees to discover and report plagiarism and other problems to the editor — but often this expectation is not explicitly communicated to the referee when they are invited to review a manuscript. And even when this expectation is communicated to referees, it is not clear that referees can appropriately identify potential plagiarism without violating other expectations, such as the anonymity of the review process (e.g., an Internet search to determine whether a passage is plagiarized could likely reveal the identity of the author). Moreover, as one participant noted, “asking referees to look for misconduct would add to the already onerous requirements we ask of reviewers.” Expecting the publication peer-review process to discover and prevent all potential problems with articles poses a further concern, since, as mentioned already, most editors reported that finding referees often requires contacting multiple scholars, sometimes even going to the seventh or eighth choice (or beyond), and tapping graduate students to serve as reviewers. This situation points to the challenge of editors having such high expectations of potentially inexperienced or non-ideal referees.

When an allegation of potential misconduct is reported to editors after review but prior to publication or when editors receive reports of possible misconduct by reviewers, there was not a clear sense that the editors felt they were responsible for addressing the misconduct, and it was not clear how they would proceed if they were responsible. Several editors said something to the effect of “our publisher has policies and procedures on this; the publisher would be responsible for addressing it.” This assumption was especially prevalent regarding problems discovered post-publication.

Within this context, COPE was mentioned on several occasions, but most participants seemed to think that “my journal/publisher follows COPE” meant that misconduct cases would be handled by the publisher or that COPE provided explicit policies and they would simply have to follow them. Very few reported having the journal-specific policies in place that COPE calls for, or even understanding exactly how COPE operates (i.e., requiring journals to spell out their own policies and providing workflow charts for addressing misconduct allegations). Few participants described having clear procedures and mechanisms for addressing potential misconduct (even plagiarism) — at least that they were aware of — even though in some cases they believed their publisher had procedures they could rely on if an incident did occur.

 

How would you describe ethical research and citation practices, especially in scholarship pertaining to and affecting marginalized groups? Should journals offer guidance to encourage inclusive engagement with marginalized bodies of scholarship? If yes, how could they accomplish this?

There was little agreement and a wide variety of perspectives on this issue, including the position that philosophical work cannot cause harm, since philosophical work explores arguments and opens any position up for debate and rebuttal.

There was a relative consensus that including bibliographies and footnotes or endnotes in word limits for journal articles affects whether or not underrepresented minority scholars and emerging scholars are cited. Scholars feel, and editors confirm, that they must cite the existing “big names” (usually not underrepresented minorities) or else their work will be viewed as not having cited the “right” people/scholarship, which would minimize their work’s chance of being accepted for publication. Thus, if word limits include bibliographies and footnotes, these must be kept to a minimum so as to allow for more of the substantive scholarship. Consequently, the excluded citations are often to the works of less-well-known, newer, and more junior scholars or to those doing similar work but in other disciplines. Underrepresented minority scholars also often account for a large percentage of this excluded group.

Regarding the general advice to cite “all relevant work,” one editor raised the point that a deeper conversation is necessary about how scholars choose which works to engage with or cite: “Are we culpable in erasing historical voices when we limit ourselves to certain kinds of citations? How can we balance the tradition with the new work? Authors don’t want to cite ‘all relevant work.’ They want to cite what they’re working on, not be forced into citing everyone who ever worked on something relevant.” A few editors pointed toward practices of asking scholars to make explicit in their work why they have cited some works and why they have left out others, since not only under-citation, but also over-citation can be a potential problem. Another editor suggested that instead of asking whether an article has cited all relevant work, a guiding question scholars should be encouraged to consider is “Did you, in thinking about this issue, go out of your way to think differently about it? Did you build your paper in conversation with other conversations?”

With respect to guidance on responsible treatment of marginalized groups in scholarship pertaining to these groups, several people brought up “nothing about us without us” as a guiding principle for work on marginalized groups. The idea here was that scholarship on marginalized groups should substantively engage with scholarship by members of those groups, and authors should make their work accountable to the groups affected. There was some consensus that philosophers whose work touches on marginalized groups should not only consider how members of those groups may be impacted by their work, but should take steps to ensure that they hear and include in their work the voices of members of those groups.

A related concern was the potential exploitation of marginalized groups, their traditions, and experiences by dominant groups as topics pertaining to marginalized groups and traditions become more valued in the profession. A participant expressed that concern this way: “I could imagine a scenario where people are really willing to engage with work on marginalized groups but only to co-opt that work to the benefit of the dominant paradigm. I worry about this. How can we provide guidelines to prevent that?”

Regarding the commitment to including all explorations of controversial arguments prima facie, one editor suggested that there needs to be more discussion and reflection on “What’s the philosophical justification for writing about a marginalized group when the implications of what you are saying are a direct or indirect threat to those you are writing about?”

There were also concerns that citation of diverse methods and authors does not always amount to actual engagement with those methods and authors. In other words, “name-checking” marginalized groups or work in marginalized areas of scholarship was not considered sufficient engagement, insofar as this “name-checking” does not necessarily include substantial analysis of the work of the marginalized authors and traditions in question. One editor argued that “[T]here is a need for journal editors to ask for engagement with marginalized groups and issues rather than just to try to layer on citations.” However, another participant observed, “[I]t may feel like we’re asking people to throw in citations, but it does mean those people [then] have citations.” Other participants agreed that citations matter and are a non-trivial issue, given their importance not only for evaluation purposes but also in influencing who and what other scholars will read.

As noted earlier, there was broad agreement across all focus groups that diversity cannot mean solely diversity of the demographics of authors, but has to mean diversity of styles, approaches, and topics as well.

 

What do you think are the main obstacles that make it difficult to accomplish diversity of authorship in journals? Are there practices that you know of or that journals have experimented with to address this situation?

As noted above, there was wide consensus that one obstacle to broader inclusion is including footnotes or citations in the word count, a practice that requires authors to limit citations that otherwise could include more junior and marginalized scholars, with the argument that diversity of citations correlates with diversity in authorship.

There was also a sense that members of underrepresented or marginalized groups need to be better represented among journal leadership and be given more active roles — philosophy journal editors are even more homogenous, demographically, than the discipline itself. Participants remarked that if journal leadership comes to include more backgrounds, experiences, scholarly traditions, and approaches to research, accomplishing diversity of authorship will flow more easily from that.

Participants also noted that the academic culture incentivizes high output, “widget production,” and “click bait” and disincentivizes deep engagement and taking the time to acquire facility with new methods, languages, archives, and bodies of scholarship. This culture negatively impacts the diversity and equity of authorship in journal articles.[41]

 

Publishers Focus Groups

Our two focus groups of publishers interrogated the following questions.

In what ways are humanities different from STEM in terms of ethical challenges and practices?

As was the case in conversations with journal editors, several publishers expressed a belief that humanities research cannot really harm people (including those from underrepresented minority groups), because humanities research presents puzzles and possible solutions and so is removed from real-world consequences. Conversely, in STEM fields, the consequences of research misconduct can be much more tangible. Other publishers, however, questioned this assumption, pointing in particular to the connection between humanities and social sciences and the (often indirect) influence of both on cultural discourses as well as on policy development.

A particular quandary pointed out by publishers who also work extensively in the social sciences was that social science research design is cleared by IRBs, whereas that is most often not the case in the humanities. Publishers agreed that it is not clear what an IRB analog would look like in the humanities or whether it would even be desirable. But in social science there is, as one publisher pointed out, a clear sense that “free and informed consent [is] a process, not a one-time thing,” and hence the analog for humanities scholarship might lie in determining a process that ensures scholars are being responsible and accountable over the entire cycle of research, publication, and post-publication discussion.

Another difference between the humanities and STEM fields, according to publishers, is that in the humanities, circulation of preprints of scholarship is unusual. As one publisher emphasized, “Preprints are so much more accepted [in STEM fields] that by the time an article is published it's already been exposed to its audience.” In contrast with STEM disciplines, in the humanities, broad peer discussion often happens only after an article has actually been published, unless authors have extensive networks or status in the field or they work in subfields with extensive online engagement. In those cases, their work will have been presented to and received feedback from a wide variety of audiences prior to appearing in a journal.[42]

In the publishers focus groups we also heard that since COPE is perceived to be more concerned with sciences than humanities, publishers have the sense that humanities editors and authors think that COPE processes and workflows do not apply to them. This perception is quite different from what the editors reported in their focus groups: they thought COPE did apply to them, but most did not have a full understanding of how COPE works and what COPE offers and requires. Editors had also generally reported believing that their journal's publisher took care of COPE compliance, even though publishers reported educating editors about COPE procedures and making clear their responsibilities.

In the publishers focus groups, we also learned that COPE is involved in ongoing discussions about providing more humanities-specific guidance, and that scholarly societies’ collaboration would be very welcome in developing such guidance.[43] As one publisher observed, in cases where humanities-specific guidance is necessary, publishers “tend to default to what the learned society has determined to be the disciplinary standard.”

Publishers explained that journal ownership affects the scope of the publisher's role in decisions made about a journal’s procedures and practices. Many humanities journals are not owned by their publishers and many are self-published; philosophy journals are often owned or run by learned societies, academic departments, independent entities, and sometimes the editors themselves. The role of the publisher may therefore be limited by the role played by each owner in each journal's procedures and practices.

Publishers also observed that there are considerable differences in budgets and funding options between humanities and STEM publishing. Unlike STEM journals, which often make a great deal of money and may have professional staff, most philosophy journals operate on modest budgets and often rely on unpaid volunteer editorial time. Changes in procedures or practices may be welcomed by editors in principle, but may be resisted if they require more time of editors who already feel overwhelmed.

 

What humanities-specific policies/guidelines do you have in place? If you are “discipline-agnostic” in your approach, why? Have you run into any problems with the “discipline-agnostic” approach?

Publishers tend to be discipline-agnostic and rely on editors to know and implement the best practices in their field. In our focus groups, publishers noted that while in STEM fields there are ample best-practice documents, not every field in the humanities has adopted best practices or discipline-wide policies. Publishers look to learned societies for what constitutes plagiarism and other forms of misconduct in that field and sometimes also for guidance on how to respond to instances of misconduct.

Publishers also reported that they assume editors are the ones bringing discipline-specific knowledge to the table. Publishers noted that they prioritize the academic autonomy of editors and that publishers remain hands-off when it comes to editorial decisions. Publishers were surprised to learn about the extent to which the editors reported relying on publishers having specific policies and procedures in place when it comes to resolving issues of potential misconduct that are raised. But they added that it was extremely helpful for them to know what editors had reported to us in previous focus groups, so that it could inform the guidance they offer. Publishers commented that because there has not been an extensive discussion of standards and guidelines in the humanities, problems tend to be handled on a case-by-case basis. If the learned societies in a particular field do not provide guidance, publishers may look to the learned societies of adjacent fields to see whether it is possible to construct analogs that could provide guidance in a specific case, while still generally expecting the editor to be the expert on the standards and best practices in their particular field.

 

What policies (if any) do you recommend to your journal editors for handling post-publication discussions? How are policies developed about who responds, and how are these policies communicated to relevant parties?

Do you have plans in place for what to do should discussions escalate on social media post-publication? At what point, do you determine that a response is required? Who is responsible for a response?

What advice or training do you give editors concerning how to handle social media criticisms and controversies?

Publishers reported having a perception that humanities journals tend to be more reactive than proactive in developing publishing practices. The publishers’ perception here is consistent with our observations in our earlier focus groups that few editors of philosophy journals had clear procedures for handling potential misconduct claims — and those who did were often affiliated with journals that have had to deal with such issues in the past.

Echoing what we heard in our editors focus groups, publishers also reported that humanities disciplines see a reply as the most, if not the only, appropriate response to a problematic article, rather than a retraction or correction, except in clear cases of plagiarism. But they also repeated the worry we heard from editors that this practice of replying generates further attention to the troublesome article and validates it (through subsequent citation) in a way that could inadvertently make it a key reference in the field.

Publishers also noted that their own marketing efforts, in which they encourage social media engagement with published pieces, could be adding to the problems addressed above — both in garnering further attention to a problematic article and in pushing for a type of engagement and discussion that can be more destructive than productive. COPE provides a flowchart, developed in 2015, for addressing allegations raised via social media,[44] but there is an interest in having COPE develop further guidance applicable to social media discussions and controversies, since these media and their use are developing rapidly and in ways that introduce new dynamics into the landscape of scholarly communication.[45] Unfortunately, few publishers reported providing training to editorial teams about social media engagement (and crisis management); guidance provided to editors about social media often is limited to the publishers’ marketing departments’ encouragement to share pieces on social media. The discussion seemed to spur some publishers’ representatives to want to consider developing applicable trainings and procedures.

There was also discussion of the problem of “concern trolling” of feminist philosophy and other work that engages marginalized groups (note that this focus group was held before the recent “grievance studies” hoax, which included some philosophy journals, was revealed).[46] The concern raised was about work submitted not with the sincere intention to contribute to a field’s discussion, but seeking instead to spark debates with the aim of garnering attention and citations and derailing the field’s discussions. Participants expressed concerns that potential negative effects could be that editors and scholars will be disinclined to take on such topics or that journals might be disinclined to publish them because of the potential time and emotional labor involved. Publishers emphasized the importance of having more discussion and guidance for editors and publishers — guidance to help distinguish between trolls and genuine criticism, and guidance on how to disincentivize “clickbaiting” and “citation baiting,” while maintaining openness to the exploration of controversial, new, or unpopular ideas. A further concern was raised about potential “concern trolling” after publication, if insincere claims about scholarly misconduct and unethical practices are being brought forward en masse, a situation that would tie up resources (editors, reviewers, etc.) that are already overextended and in short supply.

 

What data/technologies do you have in place (or can be put into place) to better help journals understand publication patterns, including diversity of all kinds (e.g., demographics, professional rank, topics, methodology)?

While publishers would like to track more information about authors and reviewers (e.g., rank and subject area, as well as gender, race, ethnicity), the recent implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and a general concern with data privacy present challenges for data collection.

Publishers raised a concern about authors either hesitating or choosing not to share data when they do not know where the data will be used, by whom, and to what end. They reported author concerns that demographic data could be used in ways that influence the peer-review process in problematic ways, although publishers also pointed out that contextual knowledge about an author’s circumstances could aid in making the peer-review process fairer and more supportive. There is a need for more transparency and trust with regard to data collection and use. Publishers also noted it can be expensive to collect and track data, not just in terms of software, but also of personnel needed for evaluation of the data. (Notably, our later conversation with scholarly society leaders disputed this claim about expense.) Where data are gathered, they are useful for discovering and addressing issues pertaining to diversity. However, several participants pointed out that the way data are collected can be problematic if not done thoughtfully — for example, binary gender coding in data-gathering systems.

 

What training do you provide to editors, especially in terms of publication ethics? What training (if any) do you offer in publication ethics for authors, reviewers, and editorial boards?

What modes of communication do you use to let editors know about new guidelines they may need to take into account to develop their own journal policies?

What training (if any) do you provide to help editors understand when corrections or retractions might be appropriate actions to take?

Some publishers have training modules for ethics in publishing. Publishers who provide training typically do so at the time of onboarding editors, but often that is the only training provided. Some publishers, however, do try to engage in regular conversations instead of or in addition to one-off training. One publisher noted that rotations and changes in editorial boards are a good opportunity to get boards involved in trainings on publication ethics, although currently little if any training is provided or made accessible by publishers to editorial boards, authors, or reviewers. Editors are typically the only ones receiving publication ethics training from publishers.

As mentioned above, there is a concern by both publishers and editors about overregulation. Publishers want to respect editor autonomy and so try avoid being too prescriptive about how to handle plagiarism complaints or other ethical violations (though focus group conversations with editors suggest that editors want more direction from their publishers). Many editors and publishers handle issues on an ad hoc basis, and so end up being more reactive than proactive in maintaining ethical publishing practices. It is worth noting that this issue of being reactive rather than proactive had also been raised as a concern in response to earlier questions during the editors focus groups. Publishers noted that requests for retraction of published articles in philosophy journals were extremely rare.

Publishers were very interested in supporting editors in publication ethics issues, but observed that there are few if any institutionalized spaces and practices for having ongoing collective conversations about evolving problems, standards, and guidelines. The COPE representatives pointed out that COPE convenes quarterly forums for members, where members can submit a problem, present it, and receive advice from others. These cases are summarized after each forum and put into the COPE library; this searchable database now contains nearly 600 cases.[47] Unfortunately, many editors do not seem to know these resources are available.

Several publishers raised the concern that “training” sounds as if the editors learn once about publishing ethics and then are left to their own devices when ethical concerns arise, whereas publishers want ongoing conversations. Annual meetings of scholarly societies were mentioned as potential — and in a few cases already used — spaces for information exchange on publication ethics issues among editors and publishers.

There was also significant discussion of conflicts of interest. Because of increasing concerns in this area, some journals are moving toward curtailing solicitations of articles because of possible ethical conflicts. However, publishers and editors alike recognized that this move could make diversification more difficult, since having editors — at conferences, for example — directly invite underrepresented minority scholars or scholars from marginalized subfields to submit work to a journal is one of the most effective ways of getting more diversity of scholarship and authorship into the publication pipeline.

 

What guidelines (if any) do you provide for dealing with marginalized or vulnerable populations? What does accountability to marginalized and vulnerable populations look like for humanities research?

How can publishers help ameliorate the marginalization of underrepresented groups and bodies of knowledge in the humanities?

Publishers acknowledged the importance of these issues as well as the lack of clarity, robust discussion, and guidance in this area.[48] Some publishers do encourage editorial boards to think about diversity and urge them to work with marginalized populations, but many expect those guidelines to come from the editors themselves or from scholarly societies — though not all societies are having these conversations. Publishers again want to be hands-off in this area, trusting that editors bring (or have access to) discipline-specific knowledge and expectations about ethical inclusion of marginalized groups and marginalized scholarship and about ways to accomplish greater inclusion and equity in their disciplines.

Generally, editors seem to defer to their publishers (rather than their scholarly society) for guidance and best publishing practices. Publishers, however, stressed the importance of giving autonomy to editors and especially the role of scholarly societies in determining practices most appropriate to their fields, citing academic freedom and potential conflict of interest as reasons for this position.

 

Scholars Conversations at APA Meetings, Blog Discussions, and Other Feedback

We received additional feedback on our project from more informal scholars conversations held at two of the three APA divisional meetings in 2018, as well as through blog comments, emails, the contact form submissions on the project website, ad hoc conversations, and other informal interactions.

Overall, most scholars with whom we interacted received the project with great interest and enthusiasm and generously contributed a variety of ideas and additional questions we might consider. There were also some concerns raised about any code of principles or best practices of publication ethics developed by a small group of scholars, even in conversation with the broader community, as well as doubts about the ability of those on the project team to be unbiased in our assessments and recommendations.

Those who had concerns about developing shared principles and best practices of publication ethics often pointed to the fact that verbatim plagiarism is already agreed upon as unethical and sanctioned when discovered, and imposing any further norms on philosophical scholarship and publishing in philosophy should be avoided so that the free exploration of ideas and circulation of research remain unencumbered. Others commented that the current state of publishing in philosophy already excludes a wide variety of ideas and voices and worried that introducing additional potentially restrictive guidelines or structures would worsen this situation.

Questions, concerns, and recommendations that were raised by scholars in their feedback to the project team and at the scholars’ conversations held at the APA meetings largely clustered around the following issues:

  • How do we prevent reviewers from taking unpublished ideas from articles they review? When such an allegation is brought forward, how is reviewer plagiarism investigated? Under what circumstances can or should reviewer confidentiality be broken?
  • Should the peer-review process be open or anonymous and to what extent? What are the community’s expectations of reviewers? What are the implications of these expectations in terms of labor and equity, given that the work of reviewing goes mostly unrewarded?
  • What does a good post-publication review process entail and how can equity be accomplished (e.g., minimizing prestige bias in determining whose work receives extended feedback and gets discussed in public forums after publication)?
  • Shoddy research is published all the time. Where is the line between badly designed/executed research and unethically designed/executed research?
  • What does proper corrective and transformative action look like when it is determined — post-publication — that something has gone awry in a piece of scholarship? What mechanisms are there, or could there be, to respond to such scholarship?
  • Prestige bias is perceived as a prevalent problem in philosophy.[49]
  • There is a need for greater discussion about the understanding of harm in relation to ideas, arguments, and post-publication circulation, especially pertaining to the impact on underrepresented minority scholars and groups.
  • Diversity is an ethical issue in philosophy publishing, but cannot only mean demographics of authors. Greater methodological diversity is perceived as a particularly pressing issue. There is a need for education and attention regarding how methodological constraints, and exclusionary or superficial engagement and citation practices, perpetuate the marginalization of particular populations and types of scholarship.
  • More in-depth, sustained, collective discussions for developing guidance on citation and engagement practices, especially in relation to marginalized knowledges and groups of scholars, would be welcome. Citation and engagement should not just strive for diversity or comprehensiveness, but should seek to establish equity.

Overall Takeaways

In sum, nearly everyone in the publishing ecosystem is looking to someone else for guidance. Editors expect referees to identify misconduct, but they do not always clearly communicate this expectation — or many other expectations — to referees. Referees seldom receive training (from a journal, from their graduate program, or from their professional societies) about how to prepare a review report. Editors generally assume that their publishers have policies in place to address misconduct, while publishers often look to the editors and scholarly societies to determine what is expected of scholars in their respective disciplines. While a number of editors are aware of COPE, they either believe that COPE’s guidelines do not apply to the humanities, or believe that COPE has explicitly defined policies and procedures that can be directly applied should a problem arise. Such misunderstandings persist despite the fact that COPE explicitly states its expectation that journals define these policies and procedures for themselves. Moreover, while it is widely agreed among editors that more diversity of authorship and scholarship is needed, and that current structures in publishing (and academia, more broadly) inhibit this goal, nearly everyone is stymied as to how to achieve this diversity and how to revise the structures that stand in the way.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendation 1: Discuss and disclose

Based on our focus group discussions, our first and most important recommendation is that every journal undertake a series of discussions — with editorial team members, publisher representatives, and other key stakeholders — to articulate its values, standards, policies, and procedures as related to publication ethics (including diversity of methodology and of authorship), and to make those values, standards, policies, and procedures publicly available and easily accessible, to the extent feasible.

We make this recommendation because the clearest finding of our focus groups is that there is an asymmetry of information and a lack of communication and shared understanding among the various stakeholders in the publishing process — scholars, referees, editors, publishers, and scholarly societies. So long as this asymmetry of information and communication continues to shape the publishing ecosystem, journals and publishers may be underprepared to respond to cases of potential misconduct as well as to public controversies. Additionally, it is likely that scholars will participate in the publishing process without fully understanding what is expected of them, whether as authors, referees, or editors.

Given the current lack of clarity and transparency, we find that it matters less at this point what particular values, standards, policies, and procedures each journal identifies as a result of these conversations than that these conversations take place. Additionally, we find it of vital importance that the outcomes of these conversations (in terms of standards, best practices, policies, or procedures) be made available to all the stakeholders in the publishing process.

In this paper, we do not advocate any specific policies or procedures; instead, we pose the following questions that journal editors and their boards might use to guide their conversations:

  • What are our journal’s core values? Do our public documents clearly articulate these values?
  • Who are our journal’s key constituencies? How well are we currently serving those constituencies
  • What do we expect from our reviewers? Have we stated those expectations clearly to both current reviewers and potential reviewers?
  • What do we expect of authors? Have we made these expectations clear to potential authors?
  • Do we (and should we) have specific expectations of authors regarding engagement with and scholarship by and about marginalized groups?
  • What is our journal’s definition of plagiarism? Are there types of scholarly misconduct other than plagiarism that should be explicitly addressed in our journal’s policies and guidance documents?
  • What are our policies on anonymity? How do we handle situations where anonymity is not a reasonable expectation (such as in smaller subfields)? What are our expectations of reviewers when they discover the identity of an author? Are there cases in which we would break anonymity in order to appropriately respond to allegations of misconduct (e.g., plagiarism by reviewers)
  • Do we have policies and procedures in place for responding to claims of misconduct (including but not necessarily limited to plagiarism)? If so, what are they, and are they satisfactory? Who has access to them? If they do not exist, do we want to have such policies and procedures?
  • Do we have clear procedures for taking complaints? What are the paths for reviewers to initiate a claim about misconduct in an article, for authors to initiate a claim if they suspect misconduct in the review process (including plagiarism of their ideas), for readers to initiate a claim after publication if they suspect misconduct, and for authors to admit to their own oversights? Are these made clear to authors, reviewers, and readers?
  • Are we satisfied with the diversity — of methodology, approach, demographics, institutional affiliation, etc. — of our journal’s leadership? Of our authors? Of our reviewers? If not, what steps might we take to achieve the diversity we want?
  • What is our journal’s position on the possibility of harm done to marginalized groups as a consequence of scholarship we publish? How might we include this position in the development of our journal’s core values?
  • Do our policies related to word count, citations, and bibliography unnecessarily limit the number of works our authors engage with? If so, how can we amend our policies to mitigate this unintended consequence?
  • Do we collect data on the personal and professional demographics of our authors and reviewers? If so, what data do we collect, why, and what do we do with it? If not, should this be part of our practice? What do (and should) we tell authors and reviewers about how we use the data we collect?
  • Do we have guidelines in place for social media use and other public engagement by members of our editorial team? If so, are they sufficient? If not, do we want to establish such guidelines?
  • Do we have a plan for how we will communicate with the public if something we publish “goes viral,” whether positively or negatively? If so, is that plan satisfactory? If not, should we develop a plan? Who should have access to the plan?
  • What policies and procedures do we want to make publicly available? What policies and procedures should be for internal use only? Are there policies we currently keep private that we could reasonably make public? How will we make any publicly available policies and procedures accessible and easy to find?

Sample Policies

Again, in this paper, we do not advocate any specific policies or procedures. The following sample policies — currently in use by the journals noted — may serve as potential starting points for conversations among journal editors and publishers as they have conversations about what policies and procedures are appropriate for their particular publication. The policies listed below should not be taken as endorsed or promoted by this project as standards for philosophy (or any other discipline).

Recommendation 2: Take steps to diversify journal leadership

In pursuit of methodological as well as demographic diversity, we encourage journals to pursue diverse representation in editorships, editorial boards, and reviewer pools and seek to involve these groups and individuals actively in the journal’s relationship to diverse communities.

Journals should make efforts to identify, understand, and counteract internal and external structures that may limit the diversity of their leadership. For example, scholars from marginalized groups are often asked to perform more service to their home institutions (e.g., serving on committees) than their peers, which may make it more difficult for them to also take on roles in journal leadership. Journals might seek to address this problem by increasing the number of people on their editorial teams, thereby decreasing the load falling on any one member of the team. This distribution of editorial responsibilities could make it more feasible for those with already heavy teaching or service loads at their respective home institutions to participate. Journals may also consider different roles and contributions by different editorial team members, so that time-intensive tasks could be taken on by members from currently overrepresented groups in consultation with underrepresented minority editorial colleagues. Or, if a journal aims to serve a marginalized area of scholarship in which scholars are more likely to work at under-resourced institutions and are thus less likely to secure the kind of funding or course release that better-resourced institutions normally provide to journal editors, the journal might consider increasing the amount of its budget devoted to editorial support in order to attract potential editors from such institutions. Journals could consider explicit term limits for editors and editorial boards as a way to encourage new and varied perspectives over time and to avoid the appearance of the master/apprentice approach to publishing.

Journals might also make use of available resources to identify potential authors and reviewers beyond their (team’s) existing networks. For example, the APA’s Underrepresented Philosophers Directory (UPDirectory) can help editors identify scholars from underrepresented groups and scholars working in certain marginalized areas that might otherwise be unknown to a journal’s leadership; other scholarly societies that do not have such resources might consider developing them. Similarly, a journal’s editorial team might consider broadening or varying the array of conferences at which their editorial team is represented, thus expanding their networks and making their journal better known as one interested in publishing more scholarship in particular areas.

Recommendation 3: Encourage collaboration among scholarly societies

We recommend that scholarly societies — both within philosophy and more broadly in the humanities and humanistic social sciences — work together to identify common values and expectations for scholars across the humanities. We believe there are several areas ripe for this type of collaboration. For example, we think that scholarly societies could collectively develop definitions of particular types of potential misconduct, such as plagiarism (of others and of oneself) and fabrication or misrepresentation of data, and guidance on how to properly credit work of collaborators and interlocutors, especially students. Scholarly societies might also develop a shared set of guidelines for reviewers, and perhaps create workshops that could be run at society conferences and within departments to aid graduate students and junior scholars in developing the skills needed to write constructive review reports.

Recommendation 4: Continue to improve peer review

Though we did not make peer review a focus of our conversations, concerns with the peer-review system were an undercurrent through every focus group and discussion.[50] We encourage journal leaders to consider how their current peer-review practices and policies serve their values and goals, and whether experimenting with new models and strategies for peer review might be worthwhile. One way editors could encourage more inclusive citations, for example, is by asking reviewers to include in their evaluation and recommendations whether there is significant but underrecognized scholarship by underrepresented groups that the article may have overlooked or not sufficiently engaged.[51]

Editors may want to consider whether strict adherence to anonymity in the peer-review process might, in some circumstances, hinder rather than advance the goal of giving every paper a fair and equal chance in the review process. In some smaller subfields, anonymity is not a reasonable expectation — everyone working in that subfield knows the work of everyone else in the subfield, so a competent reviewer in that subfield would also be one who, in all likelihood, knows (or would be able to reasonably guess) the author of a piece in that subfield. Even in larger subfields, authors with a distinctive voice, or who draw upon their own life experiences in their work, or who have discussed their works in progress at conference sessions or colloquia, may be easily identified by reviewers. Journals should consider how to shape editorial policies and practices so that scholars for whom anonymity is not feasible are not at a disadvantage, and so that reviewers who come to know (or guess with reasonable certainty) the identify of an author know how the journal expects them to proceed.

Further, scholars working in smaller subfields may receive requests to review more often than those working in larger subfields, meaning they may bear a greater burden of review work. Journals should consider ways to alleviate this burden. For example, if editors cannot find reviewers from within a particular subfield or community, there might be competent reviewers outside those groups who are nevertheless highly conversant with that subfield or community and its particular approaches to scholarship. Or an editor might consider asking a reviewer from within the relevant subfield to do a relatively smaller review task, such as determining whether the paper has sufficiently engaged with existing scholarship in the field, while asking a reviewer from an adjacent but larger subfield to do a more substantive review of the paper’s premises, arguments, and conclusions. In other words, journals might consider practices that establish specific areas/tasks/roles for reviewers, in order to more equitably distribute the burden of reviewing scholarship in smaller subfields. Editors should carefully consider whether graduate students should be asked to shoulder the task of reviewing an article, both to protect graduate student time and to prevent the situation in which experienced researchers are being evaluated by people who may not be sufficiently prepared to review. Senior faculty should recognize their responsibility to do this work in order to prevent this situation from unfolding in the peer-review process.

We recommend that journals and disciplines develop clearer standards about what is expected of reviewers and take steps to properly train reviewers. Graduate students often receive little or no training about how to review a paper, despite the fact that serving as a peer reviewer is a significant part of being a professional academic. Training on how to referee a paper should be incorporated into graduate programs, and this training should include specific expectations about professionalism and constructive criticism even (and especially) in cases where one disagrees with the substance of a paper.[52] Journals serving communities and subfields with particular standards and needs should consider offering training (in addition to clear written guidelines and expectations) to potential reviewers of all ranks.

Similarly, disciplines and higher education institutions should set and communicate expectations about how much reviewing scholars should do. Some participants in our discussions suggested, for example, that scholars should complete two reviews for every paper they submit for publication, but anecdotal evidence indicates that some scholars review many more manuscripts than this 2:1 ratio, while others review many fewer. Clearer standards communicated by scholarly societies and universities/colleges (and, perhaps, an expectation that reviewing work be clearly enumerated on CVs and in tenure/promotion files so that it can be properly rewarded) would help alleviate these disparities.

CHALLENGES

Time: The work of developing good policies is time intensive and requires challenging conversations with boards, editors, and their scholarly communities. We know many journals are looking for guidance on how to proceed, but the time involved in developing such policies can keep them from doing so, especially given the existing demands on their time.

Buy-In: While much of the response was positive when this project was announced, we also received some pushback against the concept of a code of publication ethics, and it was suggested that individuals involved in this project may be biased. While we do not expect to be able to convince everyone of the value of our recommendations, it is our sense, having engaged the community at length, that a broad array of journal leaders and scholars in the field are open to considering the kinds of recommendations we are making and are willing to engage with the project because they acknowledge the importance and complexity of these issues.

This project has already accomplished one of its goals, which was to raise the profile of the multi-faceted problem of ethics in publishing in philosophy. Many journals have already begun developing policies that can be clearly articulated to the field. In the process of disseminating this white paper, we hope to further this goal, but expect that it will be a further challenge to motivate journals to begin conversations around developing relevant policies and for them to get buy-in for the process from all necessary stakeholders.

Changing a Culture: As noted a number of times above, the challenges we have highlighted are often structural or cultural, and changing ingrained structures and cultures is difficult and often generates resistance.

Facilitating Conversations: As previously noted, the emphasis of this project — what we consider to be its most relevant contribution — is to develop and encourage a robust conversation about the variegated nature of ethical issues in publishing in philosophy and in the humanities in general. These issues are intricately bound up with the culture and general scholarly practices in philosophy and the humanities. Hence, developing a particular set of standards and policies that imposes boxes to be checked — or even providing a set of adaptable policy language recommendations — would in fact be counterproductive to developing the necessary, but currently still only emergent, discussions among scholars, editors, publishers, societies, and other stakeholders across all subfields.

Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration: While there are a number of ways scholarly societies communicate with one another — through organizations such as the American Council of Learned Societies, for example — there are few structures or precedents in place to support scholarly societies in developing standards and resources across disciplinary lines. Even among societies that aim to learn from and work with one another, the different internal structures and constituencies of different scholarly societies can often be obstacles to developing and implementing shared standards and resources.

 

CONCLUSION

Through canvassing attitudes, practices, and policies that pertain to publishing in philosophy, we learned that there is generally a sense that publishing ethics are important. But there is little sense of which concerns most need to be addressed through effective practices, policies, and procedures. We find at this point that the most important work that editors in philosophy could do is to hold conversations within their journals about the varieties of ethical issues that arise in the publication sphere and evaluate their journals’ current practices and policies with these ethical issues in mind. These conversations should also address development and implementation of additional guidelines and policies when necessary. By developing and implementing guidelines, policies, and procedures on publication ethics, journals would be acknowledging that ethical misconduct is a possibility that they seek to prevent and would be demonstrating that they have a plan in place should they be faced with a complaint. We believe that great progress would be made on this front if every journal had these conversations; developed explicit guidelines, policies, and procedures; and made those available not only to those directly involved with the journal, but also to their readership.

As this white paper evidences, the issues involved in developing ethical publishing practices in philosophy are numerous, complicated, and intertwined. These issues raise important questions that the field is beginning to consider more carefully — questions about peer review, anonymity, citation practices, research design, the capacity of philosophical research to cause harm, scholarly practices that disproportionately affect underrepresented minority scholars, the role of social media and circulation of research, and the evolving nature of potential misconduct. We do not expect all journals to agree on these issues, nor do we think that addressing them will be easy. However, we do believe that many of the concerns we have considered in this study could be alleviated if journals had clear, publicly available guidelines and policies in place. Such policies would facilitate clearer communication among the stakeholders involved in the publishing process, including authors, reviewers, editors, and publishers. Most importantly, having such guidelines and policies would convey a clear commitment to cultivating high ethical standards when it comes to publishing in the field of philosophy.

 

NEXT STEPS

We are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of the work of this project in its initial phase. Below we outline possible next steps for the project.

Publicizing Our Findings and Recommendations: Representatives from the project have spoken on panels at the 2019 Central and Pacific meetings of the American Philosophical Association, at the COPE North America Meeting in May 2019, and will speak at the Association of University Presses meeting in June 2019 to discuss our work. We plan to distribute this white paper in its final form to participants in our focus groups as well as to the editors of journals in our database and to post the final version on our project website.

Facilitating Implementation: This white paper offers discussion questions for journal editors to pursue in conversations with their publishers and editorial boards (and societies, if applicable) about developing clear policies and procedures. The next step is for journals to take up this work, which we expect will require some encouragement and facilitation. Further funding would enable us to convene journal editors and editorial boards at APA meetings or for an independent meeting to help editors and publishers discuss and develop guidelines and policies. Further funding would also enable us to convene representatives of scholarly societies across the humanities to develop cross-disciplinary guidelines for publication ethics.

Tracking Implementation: As more journals have the conversations we recommend, and as they develop, implement, and publicize practices, guidelines, and policies furthering ethical publishing, we hope that the work begun as part of this study to gather data on journal policies would continue. Further funding would support efforts to track the policies of the journals in our database and to follow up with journal editors and publishers to offer resources for implementing our recommendations (see “Facilitating Implementation” above).

Fostering Further Conversations on the Role of Anonymity and the State of Peer Review: In this white paper, we suggest that journals have conversations about how peer review is working and whether it can be improved within their particular ecology. As a result of this project it strikes us as clear that many more questions about the peer-review process (including the reasons for and against anonymity) remain and should be explored. Further funding could support facilitated conversations among journals and publishers about peer review and how it might evolve.

Gathering Further Data on Scholarly and Editorial Practices in Other Fields: Additional data on the state of publication practices in various humanities fields would be helpful in developing common standards and guidelines. Some participants in our editors focus groups suggested a cross-disciplinary survey of editors on editorial practices. Others suggested studying how metrics of scholarly impact influence scholars and scholarship, how scholars perceive their own and their fields’ practices of citation and engagement, and how scholars' perceptions about publications ethics influence their own practices. Perceptions pertaining to publication ethics could be gauged with questions such as the following: Is there a perception that the unacknowledged taking of ideas is a widespread problem? Is there a perception that reluctance to share ideas or that ideas being taken without proper credit disadvantages scholars of lesser status? What systems and structures in academic publishing (and academia more generally) do scholars see as being most problematic? While exploring all of these questions would likely be too large an undertaking as a next step, a broad survey of humanities scholars about publication practices and perceptions could provide data to support other initiatives in these areas.

Sharing Resources with Social Science and Humanities Societies: In order to take our recommendations to a wider audience, we could convene a meeting with society leaders in the social sciences and humanities to explore developing concrete resources for journals and scholars across disciplines. We could also include COPE in such a convening, building on their existing resources and expanding them to be more suited to humanities disciplines.

 

CONTACT

Additional feedback, suggestions, questions, and other inquiries can be directed to the project team via our website: http://publication-ethics.org

JOURNAL DATA

Journal Data

The full journal dataset of the 265 journals we surveyed is available for viewing and download.

REFERENCES/WORKS CITED

Our endnotes provide extensive citations, hyperlinked when possible. In addition, please visit the following resources.

Bibliography for the project: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HFV5fiopogFpuBxQxNaMgyW9kbu7YfHl3c5mVlouxBA/edit

Zotero library for the project: https://www.zotero.org/groups/2272596/publication_ethics/items

 

NOTES

[1] In her essay “Research as a Social Practice: A Response to ‘Responsible to Whom? Obligations to Participants and Society in Social Science Research’ by Matt Sleat,” Rosemary Hunter cautions against assuming that IRBs can single-handedly improve the ethical quality of research, since IRBs themselves are not subject to structured ethics oversight and IRBs are often primarily invested in protecting institutions from lawsuits rather than in supporting and strengthening the researchers. [Hunter, Rosemary. “Research as a Social Practice: A Response to ‘Responsible to Whom? Obligations to Participants and Society in Social Science Research’ by Matt Sleat.” In Finding Common Ground: Consensus in Research Ethics Across the Social Sciences, edited by Ron Iphofen, 47–54. Bingley: Emerald Publishing, 2017.]

[2] The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (Berlin: All European Academies, 2017): 4; emphasis in the original.

For a comparative review of various ethics codes in the humanities, see also Benčin, Rok, Jelica Šumič-Riha, and Rado Riha. Ethics Assessment in Different Fields: Humanities. Report. SATORI Project, 2015.

[3] Committee on Publication Ethics. “History of COPE.” (Accessed January 27, 2019.)

[4] It was not until 2015, in response to a COPE membership survey urging more attention be given to the arts, humanities, and social sciences (AHSS), that COPE began a concerted effort to address issues specific to AHSS journals. As Deborah Kahn, Publishing Director of Medicine and Open Access at Taylor & Francis, points out, such AHSS-specific guidance is crucial. In a talk Kahn presented in 2017, she noted that “Only one-third of the ethics cases logged at T&F over the past 12 months were AHSS, but 83% of the cases dealt with by the T&F legal counsel are AHSS.” [Kahn, Deborah. “Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: What Do They Need from COPE?” COPE European Seminar 2017: The Changing Face and Future of Publication Ethics. May 25, 2017. London. Video: https://youtu.be/_wQfQyS63zs.]

[5] For information about the process we undertook to select the journals included in the study, see the “Methodology” section. The complete dataset is available at http://bit.ly/2G6qWL6.

[6] The three controversies were related to (1) the publication of a paper drawing connections between transgender identities and transracialism in the journal Hypatia, as well as the public response to the paper following publication, (2) an issue of the Journal of Political Philosophy on the Black Lives Matter movement that did not include any Black authors, and (3) the publication of an article defending colonialism in Third World Quarterly after it had been rejected through peer review. More on each of these controversies can be found in the following pieces:

McKenzie, Lindsay, Adam Harris, and Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz. “A Journal Article Provoked a Schism in Philosophy. Now the Rifts Are Deepening.” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 6, 2017. (Accessed January 3, 2018.)

Jaschik, Scott. “Analyzing Black Lives Matter Without Black People Involved.” Inside Higher Ed, May 30, 2017. (Accessed January 3, 2018.)

Patel, Vimal. “A Revolt at a Journal Puts Peer Review under the Microscope.” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 25, 2017. (Accessed January 3, 2018.)

In 2018 (after this project was well underway), it came to light that a group of academics had carried out a publication hoax targeting what the authors termed “grievance studies” — cultural studies, gender studies, critical theory, and related fields.

Kafka, Alexander C. “‘Sokal Squared’: Is Huge Publishing Hoax ‘Hilarious and Delightful’ or an Ugly Example of Dishonesty and Bad Faith?Chronicle of Higher Education, October 3, 2018. (Accessed October 30, 2018.)

Some of the questions that our project is interested in are ones that arise even if only one hoax paper had ever been submitted to a single journal — questions such as, for instance, whether papers submitted in bad faith, especially to journals where reviewers will likely be underrepresented minority scholars, unnecessarily tie up the time and resources of already marginalized individuals, and whether it makes a difference at all if a paper was submitted in good faith or bad faith, as long as the scholarly community in the respective field considers the article to make a valid contribution to knowledge in the field.

Given our project’s focus on publication ethics, it is also worth noting that the authors of the hoax submissions describe their project as “reflexive ethnography”; because ethnographic research generally requires IRB approval and the “hoax” project appears not to have gotten such approval, one of the authors is currently facing disciplinary proceedings for violating his institution’s ethical guidelines. [Mangan, Katherine. “Proceedings Start Against ‘Sokal Squared’ Hoax Professor.” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 7, 2019. (Accessed January 29, 2019.)]

[7] Both the Hypatia and the Third World Quarterly controversies were covered by major mainstream media, as was the 2018 “grievance studies” hoax:

Lusher, Adam. “Professor's 'Bring Back Colonialism' Call Sparks Fury and Academic Freedom Debate.” Independent, October 12, 2017. (Accessed January 27, 2018.)

Melchior, Jillian Kay. “Fake News Comes to Academia.” Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2018. (Accessed October 30, 2018.)

Schuessler, Jennifer. “A Defense of ‘Transracial’ Identity Roils Philosophy World.” New York Times, May 19, 2017. (Accessed January 27, 2018.)

[8] An excellent definition of marginalization is provided by the Syracuse University Counseling Center: “Marginalization is the process of pushing a particular group or groups of people to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity, or place in it. Through both direct and indirect processes, marginalized groups may be relegated to a secondary position or made to feel as if they are less important than those who hold more power or privilege in society…. Individuals and groups can be marginalized on the basis of multiple aspects of their identity, including but not limited to: race, gender or gender identity, ability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, sexuality, age, and/or religion. Some individuals identify with multiple marginalized groups, and may experience further marginalization as a result of their intersecting identities.” (Accessed January 29, 2019.)

[9] Committee on Publication Ethics. “Core Practices.” (Accessed January 30, 2019.)

[10] This commitment to quality is in line with the aforementioned The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity on research procedures: “Researchers take into account the state-of-the-art in developing research ideas. Researchers design, carry out, analyse and document research in a careful and well-considered manner” (5).

[11] Lee et al. summarize the commitment to peer review as professional practice this way: “The norms and values to which peers hold each other are conceived as being universally and consistently applied to all members, where these norms and values pertain to the content of authors’ evidence and arguments independently of their social caste or positional authority” (3). [Lee, Carole J., Cassidy R. Sugimoto, Guo Zang, and Blaise Cronin. “Bias in Peer Review.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 64, no. 1 (2013): 2–17.]

For further discussion of issues of social position affecting publishing and how journals seek to ensure fairness (and sometimes fail) through peer-review practices, see the following:

Bailar, John C. “Reliability, Fairness, Objectivity and Other Inappropriate Goals in Peer Review.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14, no. 1 (1991): 137–138.

Baylis, Françoise, Alana Cattapan, and Dave Snow. “Editorial Misconduct.” Public Affairs Quarterly 31, no. 2 (2017): 143–155.

Brogaard, Berit. “The Journal Reviewing Process Isn’t Anonymous. Did You Really Think It Was? Think Again!New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science, December 18, 2012. (Accessed March 11, 2018.)

De Cruz, Helen. “Anonymous Reviewing Is Not Enough to Counter Implicit Bias, So What Can We Do to Mitigate It?New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science, October 2, 2014. (Accessed December 13, 2017.)

de Muckadell, Caroline Schaffalitzky, and Esben Nedenskov Petersen. “Why Not Open the Black Box of Journal Editing in Philosophy? Make Peer Reviews of Published Papers Available.” Metaphilosophy 48, no. 3 (2017): 245–257.

Hojat, Mohammadreza, Joseph S. Gonnella, and Addeane S. Caelleigh. “Impartial Judgment by the ‘Gatekeepers’ of Science: Fallibility and Accountability in the Peer Review Process.” Advances in Health Sciences Education 8, no. 1 (2003): 75–96.

Lipworth, Wendy, and Ian Kerridge. “Shifting Power Relations and the Ethics of Journal Peer Review.” Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy 25, no. 1 (2011): 97–121.

Richardson, Henry S. “The Triply Anonymous Review Process at Ethics.” APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy 10, no. 1 (2010): 17–20.

Rouhi, Sara. “When Metrics and Politics Collide: Reflections on Peer Review, the JIF and Our Current Political Moment.” The Scholarly Kitchen, September 18, 2017. (Accessed October 19, 2017.)

Turner, Leigh. “Promoting F.A.I.T.H. in Peer Review: Five Core Attributes in Effective Peer Review.” Journal of Academic Ethics 1, no. 2 (2003): 181–188.

[12] In the social sciences, particularly among anthropologists and sociologists, there has long been a recognition that decisions both about methods and topics are not neutral but have ethical and political dimensions that demand careful consideration. See, for example:

Bernard, H. Russell. Research Methods in Anthropology. 6th ed. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017.

May, Tim. Social Research: Issues, Methods and Research. 4th ed. London: Open University Press, 2011.

[13] See the “Methodology” section for more details about our process.

[14] For a sense of the wide variety of ethical issues that can arise in publishing, see the following selection of articles:

Borovecki, Ann. “Publication Ethics.” In Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics, edited by Henk ten Have, 2362–2368. Cham: Springer, 2016.

Council of Science Editors. White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications. Wheat Ridge, CO: Council of Science Editors, 2012.

Deakin, Lisa, Martine Docking, Chris Graf, Jackie Jones, Tiffany McKerahan, Martin Ottmar, Allen Stevens, Edward Wates, and Deb Wyatt. Best Practice Guidelines on Publishing Ethics: A Publisher’s Perspective. 2nd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2014.

Fanelli, Daniele, Rodrigo Costas, and Vincent Larivière. “Misconduct Policies, Academic Culture and Career Stage, Not Gender or Pressures to Publish, Affect Scientific Integrity.PLOS One 10, no. 6 (2015): e0127556.

Hansson, Sven Ove. “Editorial: The Ethics of Doing Philosophy.” Theoria 81 (2015): 93–96.

Lindemann, Hilde. “Miss Morals Speaks Out about Publishing.” Hypatia 21, no. 1 (2006): 232–239.

Nickerson, Raymond S. “Confirmation Bias: A Ubiquitous Phenomenon in Many Guises.” Review of General Psychology 2, no. 2 (1998): 175–220.

Stryker, Sheldon. “Ethical Issues in Editing Scholarly Journals.” American Sociologist 21, no. 1 (1990): 84–87.

Swazey, Judith P., Melissa S. Anderson, and Karen Seashore Lewis. “Ethical Problems in Academic Research.” American Scientist 81, no. 6 (1993): 542–553.

Wager, Elizabeth. 2014. “Publication Ethics: Whose Problem Is it?Prilozi [Section of Medical Sciences] 35, no. 3 (2014): 23–27.

Wager, Elizabeth, Suzan Fiack, Chris Graf, Andy Robinson, and Ian Rowlands. “Science Journal Editors' Views on Publication Ethics: Results of an International Survey.” Journal of Medical Ethics 35, no. 6 (2009): 348–353.

[15] The American Association of University Professors has adopted clear statements on plagiarism and professional ethics. However, as noted several times within this white paper, while scholarly societies in the humanities sometimes adopt such principles, at the journal level both definitions and guidelines are often absent.

American Association of University Professors. Statement on Plagiarism. June 1990. (Accessed October 23, 2017.)

American Association of University Professors. Statement on Professional Ethics. 2009. (Accessed October 23, 2017.)

[16] For deeper discussion of these and other ethical principles, see, for example, Chowning, Jeanne Ting, and Paula Fraser. An Ethics Primer. Seattle WA: Northwest Association of Biomedical Research, 2009.

[17] See, for example, Schliesser, Eric. “On Retraction in Philosophy.” Digressions and Impressions, September 20, 2017. (Accessed September 24, 2017.)

Preceding the controversies over the summer of 2017, Chris Haufe had already pointed out the peculiar situation that humanists seem to assume that retraction cannot apply to articles in the humanities. Haufe clarifies the problem: “Humanists owe some sort of explanation for why we are apparently unconcerned with error propagation. It must be either that (1) we don’t care about the effect of the errors that we make; (2) the errors that we make have no effect; or (3) we don’t make errors. None of these seems plausible, and whatever the real explanation is may reveal a deep problem in the humanities.” [Haufe, Chris. "How to Retract an Article in the Humanities." Talk, Baker-Nord Digital Humanities Event, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, March 25, 2015. (Accessed May 8, 2017.)]

For a rare instance of discussion concerning correcting the literature in philosophy (also preceding the aforementioned controversies), pertaining to the very specific case of verbatim plagiarism in an egregious form, see Dougherty, M. V. “Correcting the Scholarly Record in the Aftermath of Plagiarism: A Snapshot of Current-Day Publishing Practices in Philosophy.” Metaphilosophy 48, no. 3 (2017): 258–283. Dougherty has also published a book-length study on the same topic, looking at the humanities more broadly, in which he argues that “the correction of the scholarly literature ... is not a task for editors and publishers alone; each member of the research community has an indispensable role in maintaining the integrity of the published literature.” [Dougherty, M. V. Correcting the Scholarly Record for Research Integrity: In the Aftermath of Plagiarism. New York: Springer, 2018.]

For discussion of the role and importance of citation practice, see Brian Leiter’s “Academic Ethics: Should Scholars Avoid Citing the Work of Awful People?” Leiter asserts that improper citation practice could constitute “scholarly malfeasance” because it “betrays the entire scholarly enterprise” and argues that the purpose of citation practice is “ensuring the integrity of the scholarly discipline in question." [Leiter, Brian. “Academic Ethics: Should Scholars Avoid Citing the Work of Awful People?Chronicle of Higher Education, October 25, 2018. (Accessed December 19, 2018.)]

[18] The literature on the relationship between publishing practices and diversity is considerable; please visit the bibliography and Zotero library created as part of our project.

[19] American Philosophical Association. “Member Demographics.” (Accessed January 30, 2019.)

[20] As already noted, these issues have been raised a number of times — see, as just one example, Linda Martín Alcoff’s 2012 Presidential Address to the APA Eastern entitled “Philosophy’s Civil Wars” — but the tipping point was reached with the controversies of the last few years.

[21] For a flavor of the wider discussion on publication ethics in the humanities and social sciences and within the academic publishing industry itself, see the following:

British Academy. Peer Review: The Challenges for the Humanities and Social Sciences. September 2007. (Accessed November 18, 2017.)

Dix, Alan. “Evaluating Research Assessment: Metrics-Based Analysis Exposes Implicit Bias in REF2014 Results.” LSE Impact Blog, March 22, 2016. (Accessed May 29, 2018.)

Dunleavy, Patrick. “Poor Citation Practices Are Continuing to Harm the Humanities and Social Sciences.” LSE Impact Blog, December 9, 2014. (Accessed October 30, 2017.)

Greco, Albert N., Robert M. Wharton, and Amy Brand. “Demographics of Scholarly Publishing and Communication Professionals.” Learned Publishing 29, no. 1 (2016): 97–101.

Guetzkow, Joshua, Michèle Lamont, and Grégoire Mallard. “What Is Originality in the Humanities and the Social Sciences?American Sociological Review 69, no. 2 (2004): 190–212.

Kandiko Howson, Camille B. “Gender and Advancement in Higher Education’s Prestige Economy.” LSE Impact Blog May 22, 2018. (Accessed May 25, 2018.)

Mudditt, Alison, Karin Wulf, and Mary Francis. “Peer Review in the Humanities and Social Sciences: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It?The Scholarly Kitchen, September 21, 2016. (Accessed November 18, 2017.)

Roelofs, Portia, and Max Gallien. “Clickbait and Impact: How Academia Has Been Hacked.” LSE Impact Blog, September 19, 2017. (Accessed September 20, 2017.)

Smart, Pippa, and Lettie Conrad. “Editorial: Diversity, Inclusivity, and Accessibility.” Learned Publishing 30, no. 2 (2017): 183–184.

Wellmon, Chad, and Andrew Piper. “Publication, Power, and Patronage: On Inequality and Academic Publishing.” Critical Inquiry, July 21, 2017 [updated October 2, 2017]. (Accessed October 29, 2017.)

[22] Our dataset of 265 journals was drawn primarily from these sources: APA’s Recommended Resources, invitees to the APA/BPA Journal Surveys, SPEP’s Online Resources, the SciImago Journal Rankings for philosophy, the Brooks Blog’s 2011 initial and final list of the top philosophy journals, Mark Colyvan’s 2018 list of the best philosophy journals, S. Kate Devitt’s 2014 ranking of philosophy journals, and the Leiter Reports’ 2015 list of the top 20 general philosophy journals.

[23] The language of COPE’s “Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing” (accessed January 29, 2019) that are particularly relevant here reads as follows:

“1. Website: [...] An ‘Aims & Scope’ statement should be included on the website and the readership clearly defined. There should be a statement on what a journal will consider for publication including authorship criteria (e.g., not considering multiple submissions, redundant publications) to be included.”

“3. Peer review process: Journal content must be clearly marked as whether peer reviewed or not. Peer review is defined as obtaining advice on individual manuscripts from reviewers expert in the field who are not part of the journal’s editorial staff. This process, as well as any policies related to the journal’s peer review procedures, shall be clearly described on the journal website, including the method of peer review used. Journal websites should not guarantee manuscript acceptance or very short peer review times.”

“9. Process for identification of and dealing with allegations of research misconduct: Publishers and editors shall take reasonable steps to identify and prevent the publication of papers where research misconduct has occurred, including plagiarism, citation manipulation, and data falsification/fabrication, among others. In no case shall a journal or its editors encourage such misconduct, or knowingly allow such misconduct to take place. In the event that a journal’s publisher or editors are made aware of any allegation of research misconduct relating to a published article in their journal, the publisher or editor shall follow COPE’s guidelines (or equivalent) in dealing with allegations.”

“10. Publication Ethics: A journal shall also have policies on publishing ethics. These should be clearly visible on its website, and should refer to: i) Journal policies on authorship and contributorship; ii) How the journal will handle complaints and appeals; iii) Journal policies on conflicts of interest / competing interests; iv) Journal policies on data sharing and reproducibility; v) Journal’s policy on ethical oversight; vi) Journal’s policy on intellectual property; and vii) Journal’s options for post-publication discussions and corrections.”

[24] Committee on Publication Ethics. “Diversity in Peer Review: Survey Results.” (Accessed January 30, 2019.)

Diversity and inclusion were also the topic of the 2019 COPE North American Seminar (“Challenges and Solutions: Issues of Inclusivity and Diversity in the Humanities and Social Sciences”) held on May 3, 2019. Other academic publishing initiatives include the “Diversity and Inclusion Manifesto for Scholarly Publishing” by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers and the establishment in October 2018 of the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communication (C4DISC). (All sites accessed January 30, 2019.)

[25] We considered a journal to have this policy if authors were, for example, asked to list funding sources or reviewers were asked to state that they had a conflict of interest with reviewing the work.

[26] Open-access publishers were evaluated as well as subscription-based journals; all journals needed to have clearly stated copyright and pricing policies, no matter what their publishing business model.

[27] Committee on Publication Ethics. “Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing.” (Accessed January 30, 2019.)

[28] The Chatham House Rule was developed by the Royal Institute of International Affair in London. Now widely used in meetings of all kinds, the rule simply states, “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”

[29] The full list of publishers invited can be found in the journal dataset, which is available at http://bit.ly/2G6qWL6.

[30] The complete dataset is available for viewing or download at http://bit.ly/2G6qWL6.

[31] Only one journal among the 265 we reviewed had clear policies for reporting editorial or publisher misconduct; that journal is Science, Religion and Culture.

[32] The “Bechdel Test” for philosophy was first proposed by Helen De Cruz, based on the original concept by cartoonist Alison Bechdel and her friend Liz Wallace designed to measure the representation of women in fiction. De Cruz’s version of the “Bechdel Test” focuses on citation and engagement practices. [De Cruz, Helen. “A Bechdel Test for Philosophy Papers.” New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science, April 3, 2014. (Accessed July 24, 2017.)]

[33] The experiences that journal editors reported regarding taking author suggestions into account resonate with the guidelines that the Association of University Presses provides to acquisitions editors (AEs) for peer-review best practices: “The AE’s reviewer selection process may be informed by, but should be independent of, suggestions from the author herself. An author’s suggestions may alert AEs to other experts in the field or signal an author’s conception of his ideal reader. If authors ask that some scholars not be asked to review the manuscript because of intellectual differences, the AE may wish to abide by the request but is not obligated to do so. The author’s list of potential reviewers or veto of others can reveal conceptual or disciplinary boundaries of the author’s work, highlight conflicts of interest the AE is not aware of, or flag reviewer directions that might be problematic” (13). [Association of American University Presses (now the Association of University Presses). Best Practices for Peer Review. New York: Association of American University Presses. New York: Association of American University Presses, 2016.]

[34] In the publishers focus groups, publishers identified the need for the development of best-practice guidelines for how to make use of authors’ suggestions for scholars who should (or should not) serve as qualified reviewers. It is more common in the sciences than in the humanities to solicit and make use of such recommendations, but the use of suggested reviewers, especially when it is difficult to find appropriate referees, has sometimes led to fraudulent exploitation of the review process in science journals. In one famous case, a researcher created fake identities and (positively) reviewed his own work (for more on this case, see Ferguson, Cat, Adam Marcus, and Ivan Oransky. “Publishing: The Peer-Review Scam.” Nature, November 26, 2014; accessed January 30, 2019). What led to the discovery of the malfeasance in 2014 was, according to Ferguson et al., not the content or positive nature of the reviews, but rather the extraordinarily fast turnaround time. In 2015, Nature reported on 64 further retractions owing to faked peer reviews (Callaway, Ewen. “Faked Peer Reviews Prompt 64 Retractions.” Nature, August 18, 2015; accessed January 30, 2019). Rather than arguing that such fraud should mean ending the practice of suggesting reviewers altogether, Elizabeth Wager, a publishing consultant and former chair of COPE, was quoted in Callaway’s piece recommending instead that “measures, such as double-checking non-institutional e-mail addresses given for reviewers, would allow journals to hold on to the expertise that these reviewers often provide.” A greater worry than individuals gaming the system is, as Wager points out, the emergence of companies offering their services to authors in order to manipulate the review process.

For more on the manipulation of the peer-review process, the potential pitfalls of companies that offer “author services,” and other issues with the peer-review system, see the following:

Cochran, Angela. “Validating Author Services Providers: Q&A with Donald Samulack.” The Scholarly Kitchen, September 16, 2015. (Accessed January 30, 2019.)

Committee on Publication Ethics. “COPE Statement on Inappropriate Manipulation of Peer Review Processes.” December 19, 2014. (Accessed January 30, 2019.)

Tancock, Christopher. “When Reviewing Goes Wrong: The Ugly Side of Peer Review.” Elsevier Connect, March 23, 2018. (Accessed January 30, 2019.)

[35] For more on concerns about the “network effect” providing potentially unfair advantages, see the following:

Burris, Val. “The Academic Caste System: Prestige Hierarchies in PhD Exchange Networks.” American Sociological Review 69, no. 2 (2004): 239–264.

De Cruz, Helen. “Prestige Bias: An Obstacle to a Just Academic Philosophy.” Ergo 5, no. 10 (2018): 259–287.

Healy, Kieran. “A Co-Citation Network for Philosophy.” Kieran Healy Blog, June 18, 2013 [corrected June 26, 2013]. (Accessed March 4, 2018.) [Interactive citation map.]

Lee, Carole J. “The Limited Effectiveness of Prestige as an Intervention on the Health of Medical Journal Publications.” Episteme 10, no. 4 (2013): 387–402.

Schliesser, Eric. “Co-Citation Networks in Philosophy.” New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science, June 19, 2013. (Accessed April 21, 2018.)

[36] The increased “metricization” of the academy that has tightened definitions of productivity and the resulting marginalization of research and scholarship are of increasing concern across many disciplines, including philosophy. See, for example, the following:

Baffoe, Michael, Lewis Asimeng-Boahene, and Buster C. Ogbuagu. “Their Way or No Way: ‘Whiteness’ as Agent for Marginalizing and Silencing Minority Voices in Academic Research and Publication.European Journal of Sustainable Development 3, no. 1 (2014): 13-32.

Bright, Liam Kofi “Decision Theoretic Model of the Productivity Gap.” Erkenntnis 82, no. 2 (2017): 421–442.

Chubb, Jennifer, Richard Watermeyer, and Paul Wakeling. “Fear and Loathing in the Academy?: The Role of Emotion in Response to an Impact Agenda in the UK and Australia.” Higher Education Research and Development 36, no. 3 (2017): 555–568.

Dix (2016), ibid.

Fanelli et al. (2015), ibid.

Fyfe, Aileen, Kelly Coate, Stephen Curry, Stuart Lawson, Noah Moxham, and Camilla Mørk Røstvik. Untangling Academic Publishing: A History of the Relationship between Commercial Interests, Academic Prestige and the Circulation of Research. Report. May 25, 2017. (Accessed May 2, 2018.)

Hamermesh, Daniel, George Johnson, and Burton Weisbrod. “Scholarship, Citations and Salaries: Economic Rewards in Economics.” Southern Economic Journal 49, no. 4 (1982): 472–481.

Mountz, Alison, Anne Bonds, Becky Mansfield, Jenna Loyd, Jennifer Hyndman, Margaret Walton-Roberts, Ranu Basu, Risa Whitson, Roberta Hawkins, Trina Hamilton, and Winifred Curran. “For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University.” ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 14, no. 4 (2015): 1235–1259.

Nygaard, Lynn P., and Karim Bahgat. "What's in a Number?: How (and Why) Measuring Research Productivity in Different Ways Changes the Gender Gap." Journal of English for Academic Purposes 32, no. 1 (2018): 67–79.

Post, David. “Editorial: Rank Scholarship.” Comparative Education Review 56, no. 1 (2012): 1–17.

Roelofs and Gallien (2017), ibid.

Rouhi (2017), ibid.

Strauss, Pat. “‘It’s Not the Way We Use English’ — Can We Resist the Native Speaker Stranglehold on Academic Publications?Publications 5, no 4 (2017): Article 27.

Todd, Peter A., and Richard J. Ladle. “Hidden Dangers of a ‘Citation Culture.’Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics 8 (2008): 13–16.

[37] The concept of cryptomnesia, a phenomenon in which an individual mistakenly but genuinely believes they have generated a new thought that they originally obtained from someone else (also known as “inadvertent” or “unconscious” plagiarism), has been well studied by psychologists. See, for example, the following:

Bink, Martin L., Richard L. Marsh, Jason L. Hicks, and Jesse D. Howard. “The Credibility of a Source Influences the Rate of Unconscious Plagiarism.” Memory 7, no. 3 (1999): 293–308.

Brown, Alan S., and Hildy E. Halliday. “Cryptomnesia and Source Memory Difficulties.” American Journal of Psychology 104, no. 4 (1991): 475–490.

Brown, Alan S., and Dana R. Murphy. “Cryptomnesia: Delineating Inadvertent Plagiarism.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 15, no. 3 (1989): 432–442.

Defeldre, Anne-Catherine. “Inadvertent Plagiarism in Everyday Life.” Applied Cognitive Psychology 19, no. 8 (2005): 1033–1040.

Gingerich, Amanda C., and Meaghan C. Sullivan. “Claiming Hidden Memories as One's Own: A Review of Inadvertent Plagiarism.” Journal of Cognitive Psychology 25, no. 8 (2013): 903–916.

Landau, Joshua D., and Richard L. Marsh. “Monitoring Source in an Unconscious Plagiarism Paradigm.” Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 4, no. 2 (1997): 265–270.

Macrae, C. Neil, Galen V. Bodenhausen, and Guglielmo Calvini. “Contexts of Cryptomnesia: May the Source Be with You.” Social Cognition 17, no. 3 (1999): 273–297.

Marsh, Richard L, and Gordon H. Bower. “Eliciting Cryptomnesia: Unconscious Plagiarism in a Puzzle Task.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 19, no. 3 (1993): 673–688.

Marsh, Richard L., Joshua D. Landau, and Jason L. Hicks. “Contributions of Inadequate Source Monitoring to Unconscious Plagiarism during Idea Generation.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 23, no. 4 (1997): 886–897.

Perfect, Timothy J., and Louisa-Jayne Stark. “Why Do I Always Have the Best Ideas?: The Role of Idea Quality in Unconscious Plagiarism.” Memory 16, no. 4 (2008): 386–394.

Perfect, Timothy J., Ian Field, and Robert Jones. “Source Credibility and Idea Improvement Have Independent Effects on Unconscious Plagiarism Errors in Recall and Generate-New Tasks.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 35, no. 1 (2009): 267–274.

Stark, Louisa-Jayne, and Timothy J. Perfect. “The Effects of Repeated Idea Elaboration on Unconscious Plagiarism.” Memory and Cognition 36, no. 1 (2008): 65–73.

Stark, Louisa-Jayne, and Timothy J. Perfect. “Elaboration Inflation: How Your Ideas Become Mine.” Applied Cognitive Psychology 20, no. 5 (2006): 461–468.

Stark, Louisa-Jayne, Timothy Perfect, and Stephen Newstead. “When Elaboration Leads to Appropriation: Unconscious Plagiarism in a Creative Task.” Memory 13, no. 6 (2005): 561–573.

Tenpenny, Patricia L., Maria S. Keriazakos, Gavin S. Lew, and Thomas P. Phelan. “In Search of Inadvertent Plagiarism.” American Journal of Psychology 111, no. 4 (1998): 529–559.

Weidler, Blaire J. Kristi S. Multhaup, and Mark E. Faust. “Accountability Reduces Unconscious Plagiarism.” Applied Cognitive Psychology 26, no. 4 (2012): 626–634.

[38] On the importance of citation to professional advancement and rewards (e.g., reputation, raises) and the complexities of citation practice, see the following:

Ainley, Kirsten, Ida Danewid, and Joanne Yao. “Challenging the Gender Citation Gap: What Journals Can Do.” International Affairs Blog, August 22, 2017. (Accessed April 23, 2018.)

Arvan, Marcus. “On Citation Practices in Philosophy.” The Philosophers' Cocoon, February 27, 2014. (Accessed April 20, 2018.)

Bavelas, Janet Beavin. “The Social Psychology of Citations.” Canadian Psychological Review 19, no. 2 (1978): 158–163.

Brooks, Terrence A. “Evidence of Complex Citer Motivation.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science 37, no. 1 (1986): 34–36.

Cozzens, Susan E. “What Do Citations Count?: The Rhetoric-First Model.Scientometrics 15, no. 5–6 (1989): 437–447.

Davis Philip M. “Reward or Persuasion?: The Battle to Define the Meaning of a Citation.” Learned Publishing 22, no. 1 (2009): 5–11.

Diamond, Arthur M., Jr. “What Is a Citation Worth?Journal of Human Resources 21, no. 2 (1986): 200–215.

Dunleavy, Patrick. “Citations Are More Than Merely Assigning Credit: Their Inclusion (or Not) Conditions How Colleagues Regard and Evaluate Your Work.” LSE Impact Blog, April 6, 2017. (Accessed October 30, 2017.)

Dunleavy (2014), ibid.

Erikson, Martin G., and Peter Erlandson. “A Taxonomy of Motives to Cite.” Social Studies of Science 44, no. 4 (2014): 625–637.

Ferber, Marianne A. "Citations: Are They an Objective Measure of Scholarly Merit?" Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 11, no. 2 (1986): 381–389.

Hamermesh et al. (1982), ibid.

Herzog, Lisa. “The Politics of Citation.” New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science, February 17, 2014. (Accessed April 21, 2018.)

Hewings, Ann, Theresa Lillis, and Dimitra Vladimirou. “Who’s Citing Whose Writings?: A Corpus-Based Study of Citations as Interpersonal Resource in English Medium National and English Medium International Journals.” Journal of English for Academic Purposes 9, no. 2 (2010): 102–115.

Hyland, Ken. "Academic Attribution: Citation and the Construction of Disciplinary Knowledge." Applied Linguistics 20, no. 3 (1999): 341–367.

Krishnamurthy, Meena, and Jessica Wilson. “What’s Wrong with Current Citation Practices in Philosophy?What's Wrong?, December 14, 2015. (Accessed April 21, 2018.)

Leiter (2018), ibid.

Maliniak, Daniel, Ryan Powers, and Barbara F. Walter. “The Gender Citation Gap in International Relations.” International Organization 67, no. 4 (2013): 889–922.

McElhinny, Bonnie, Marijke Hols, Jeff Holtzkener, Susanne Unger, and Claire Hicks. “Gender, Publication and Citation in Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology: The Construction of a Scholarly Canon.” Language in Society 32, no. 3 (2003): 299–328.

Mott, Carrie, and Daniel Cockayne. “Citation Matters: Mobilizing the Politics of Citation Toward a Practice of ‘Conscientious Engagement’.” Gender, Place and Culture 24, no. 7 (2017): 954-973.

Ray, Victor. “The Racial Politics of Citation.” Inside Higher Ed, April 27, 2018. (Accessed April 27, 2018.)

Rose, Shirley K. “The Role of Scholarly Citations in Disciplinary Economies.” In Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World, edited by Lise Buranen and Alice M. Roy, 241–249. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999.

Schliesser, Eric. “Citation as Status Signaling.” Digressions and Impressions, April 20, 2015. (Accessed May 30, 2018.)

Small, Henry. “On the Shoulders of Robert Merton: Towards a Normative Theory of Citation.” Scientometrics 60, no. 1 (2004): 71–79.

Tescione, Susan M. “A Woman's Name: Implications for Publication, Citation, and Tenure.” Educational Researcher 27, no. 8 (1998): 38–42.

Thieme, Katja, and Mary Ann S.Saunders. "How Do You Wish to be Cited?: Citation Practices and a Scholarly Community of Care in Trans Studies Research Articles." Journal of English for Academic Purposes 32, no. 1 (2018): 80–90.

Todd and Ladle (2008), ibid.

Weinberg, Justin. “When You Should Have Been Cited, But You Weren't.” Daily Nous, November 1, 2017. (Accessed April 21, 2018.)

White, Howard D. “Authors as Citers over Time.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 52, no 2. (2001): 87–108.

[39] For a flavor of the larger discussions concerning “self-plagiarism” and whether it should be considered misconduct, see the following:

Bruton, Samuel V. “Self-Plagiarism and Textual Recycling: Legitimate Forms of Research Misconduct.” Accountability in Research: Policies and Quality Assurance 21, no. 3 (2014): 176–197.

Hodges, Amy, Troy Bickham, Elizabeth Schmidt, and Leslie Seawright. “Challenging the Profiles of a Plagiarist: A Study of Abstracts Submitted to an International Interdisciplinary Conference.” International Journal for Educational Integrity 13, no. 7 (2017): 1–15.

Robinson, Susan R. “Self-Plagiarism and Unfortunate Publication: An Essay on Academic Values.” Studies in Higher Education 39, no. 2 (2014): 265–277.

Roig, Miguel. Avoiding Plagiarism, Self-Plagiarism, and Other Questionable Writing Practices: A Guide to Ethical Writing. Washington, DC: Office of Research Integrity, Department of Health and Human Services, 2015.

[40] For more on ethical concerns about self-citation, see the following:

Ainley et al. (2017), ibid.

Madlock-Brown, Charisse R., and David Eichmann. “The (Lack of) Impact of Retraction on Citation Networks.” Science and Engineering Ethics 21, no. 1 (2015): 127–137.

Pandita, Ramesh, and Shivendra Singh. "Self-Citations, a Trend Prevalent across Subject Disciplines at the Global Level: An Overview." Collection Building 36, no. 3 (2017): 115-126.

Small (2004), ibid.

[41] This argument is made explicitly by Mountz et al. (ibid.), who note, “Good scholarship requires time: to think, write, read, research, analyze, edit, organize, and resist the growing administrative and professional demands that disrupt these crucial processes of intellectual growth and personal freedom…. For us, slow scholarship is about making the university a place where many people — professors and students, from multiple places of privilege or marginalization — can collectively and collaboratively thrive” (1237, 1240).

[42] On the importance of such networks as an informal system of “peer review” that can be instrumental in advancing one’s career, see the following:

Burris (2004), ibid.

Ferber, Marianne A. “Citations and Networking.” Gender and Society 2, no. 1 (1988): 82–89.

Rigby, John, Deborah Cox, and Keith Julian. “The More Revisions a Paper Undergoes, the Greater Its Subsequent Recognition in Terms of Citations.” LSE Impact Blog, April 10, 2018. (Accessed May 26, 2018.)

[43] As has already been mentioned, COPE has recently begun to explore the differences between STEM and AHSS disciplines when it comes to publication ethics. The COPE European Seminar in 2017 addressed AHSS needs, and the recent 2019 North American Seminar looked at the challenges of and solutions for diversity and inclusion in HSS publishing. (Both sites accessed January 30, 2019.)

[44] Committee on Publication Ethics. “How to Respond to Whistle Blowers When Concerns Are Raised via Social Media.” (Accessed February 15, 2019.)

[45] Although social media use by academics can have its upsides (see, for example, Matthew, Patricia A. "Tweeting Diversity: Race and Tenure in the Age of Social Media." In Written/Unwritten: Diversity and the Hidden Truths of Tenure, edited by Patricia A. Matthew, 241–260. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016], many academics have also pointed out that social media can be difficult and sometimes even dangerous terrain to navigate, especially as a woman, a scholar of color, or a scholar from another marginalized group. See, for example, the following:

Clark, D. Anthony, Lisa B. Spanierman, Tamilia D. Reed, Jason R. Soble, and Sharon Cabana. “Documenting Weblog Expressions of Racial Microaggressions That Target American Indians.” Journal of Diversity in Higher Education 4, no. 1 (2011): 39–50.

Finley, Stephen C., Biko M. Gray, and Lori Latrice Martin. “‘Affirming Our Values’: African American Scholars, White Virtual Mobs, and the Complicity of White University Administrators.” Journal of Academic Freedom 9 (2018): 1–20.

Herbert, Cassie. “Online Misogyny and Our Profession.” Blog of the American Philosophical Association: Women in Philosophy, July 4, 2018. (Accessed July 18, 2018.)

Mann, Larisa Kingston. “What Can Feminism Learn from New Media?Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 11, no. 3 (2014): 293–297.

Mason, Qrescent Mali. “Social Media Harassment Targets Academics of Color.” Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, August 27, 2017. (Accessed February 17, 2019.)

Roelofs and Gallien (2017), ibid.

Veletsianos, George, and Jaigris Hodson. “Social Media as a Weapon to Harass Women Academics.” Inside Higher Ed, May 29, 2018. (Accessed February 17, 2019.)

[46] In Gendertrolling: How Misogyny Went Viral, Karla Mantilla defines “concern trolling” as an instance “when a troll pretends to share the opinions or ideas of the people he is conversing with, but expresses trumped-up but seemingly earnest ‘concerns’ in order to foment doubts, dissent, or disagreement about the opinion that the troll ostensibly agrees with” (5). [Mantilla, Karla. Gendertrolling: How Misogyny Went Viral. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2015.]

[47] Committee on Publication Ethics. “Cases.” (Accessed February 17, 2019.)

[48] Publishers would particularly welcome encouragement and support from journal owners, editors, and authors in maintaining the integrity of the published scholarly record. In follow-up conversations after one of our publishers focus groups, for example, one publisher importantly noted that their focus on vulnerable populations includes scholars in countries subject to censorship of journal literature. In the past, such censorship has primarily been a question of access to journal content (i.e., scholars were blocked from having access to certain publications). It has now become a question of altering content (i.e., making changes to content or removing journal content entirely to accommodate political censorship). This is an ethical issue facing everyone in the system of scholarly communication, and the people most directly affected cannot speak for themselves.

[49] This perception is supported by work done by De Cruz, by Saul, and by Schliesser (in philosophy) and by Wellmon and Piper (in academic publishing more generally):

De Cruz (2018), ibid.

Saul, Jennifer. “Ranking Exercises in Philosophy and Implicit Bias.” Journal of Social Philosophy 43, no. 3 (2012): 256–273.

Schliesser, Eric. “On the Hierarchies of Professional Philosophy.” Digressions and Impressions, April 17, 2018. (Accessed May 8, 2018.)

Wellmon and Piper (2017), ibid.

[50] For a flavor of the various discussions on the current system of peer review (and how it arose), debates about its effectiveness, and proposals for how to think the system differently, see the following:

Allen, Heidi, Emma Boxer, Alexandra Cury, Thomas Gaston, Chris Graf, Ben Hogan, Stephanie Loh, Hannah Wakley, and Michael Willis. “What Does Better Peer Review Look Like?: Definitions, Essential Areas, and Recommendations for Better Practice.” OSF Preprints, April 20, 2018. (Accessed September 8, 2018.)

Arvan, Marcus. “Rethinking Journal Reviewing Standards — A Rough First Pass.” The Philosophers' Cocoon, March 26, 2014. (Accessed April 21, 2018.)

Bal, Mieke. “Let’s Abolish the Peer-Review System.” Media Theory, September 3, 2018. (Accessed February 1, 2019.)

Biagioli, Mario. "From Book Censorship to Academic Peer Review." Emergences: Journal for the Study of Media and Composite Cultures 12, no. 1 (2002): 11-45.

Brown, Donald G. “On Doffing the Mask.” Journal of Academic Ethics 5, no. 2–4 (2007): 217–219.

Carroll, Aaron E. “Peer Review: The Worst Way to Judge Research, Except for All the Others.” The New York Times, November 5, 2018. (Accessed December 9, 2018.)

de Muckadell and Petersen (2017), ibid.

Edington, Mark. “Losing Our Modesty: The Content and Communication of Peer Review.” Journal of Scholarly Publishing 49, no. 3 (2018): 287–304.

Eve, Martin Paul. “The Future of Peer Review.” Martin Paul Eve Blog, March 15, 2013. (Accessed November 18, 2017.)

Ford, Emily. “Defining and Characterizing Open Peer Review: A Review of the Literature.” Journal of Scholarly Publishing 44, no. 4 (2013): 311–326.

García, Jose A., Rosa Rodriguez‐Sánchez, and Joaquín Fdez‐Valdivia. "Bias and Effort in Peer Review.” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 66, no. 10 (2015): 2020–2030.

Gould, Thomas H. P. “Scholar as E-publisher: The Future Role of [Anonymous] Peer Review within Online Publishing.” Journal of Scholarly Publishing 41, no. 4 (2010): 428–448.

Hagen, Nathan. “Review Boards for Scientific Publishing.” Journal of Scholarly Publishing 49, no. 4 (2018): 419–434.

Hames, Irene, and Alison McCook. “Make Reviews Public, Says Peer Review Expert.” Retraction Watch, November 27, 2017. (Accessed January 25, 2019).

Harley, Diane, Sophia Krzys Acord, and Sarah Earl-Novell. “Peer Review in Academic Promotion and Publishing: Its Meaning, Locus, and Future.” Report. Match 1, 2011. (Accessed May 2, 2018.)

Heckman, James, and Sidharth Moktan. “The Tyranny of the Top Five Journals.” Institute for New Economic Thinking Blog, October 2, 2018. (Accessed February 1, 2019.)

Jelicic, Marko, and Harald Merckelbach. "Peer-Review: Let's Imitate the Lawyers!" Cortex 38, no. 3 (2002): 406–407.

Jusdanis, Gregory. “The Oppression of Peer Review.” Arcade, December 23, 2010. (Accessed November 18, 2017.)

Kennison, Rebecca. “Back to the Future: (Re)turning from Peer Review to Peer Engagement.” Learned Publishing 29, no. 1 (2016): 69–71.

Lee et al. (2013), ibid.

Lipscombe, Trevor. “Burn This Article: An Inflammatory View of Peer Review.” Journal of Scholarly Publishing 47, no. 3 (2016): 284–298.

Lipworth and Kerridge (2011), ibid.

Mudditt et al. (2016), ibid.

Oswald, Andrew, Susan Bassnett, Alex Blakemore, Willy Maley, Jim Woodgett, and Anonymous. “The Worst Piece of Peer Review I’ve Ever Received: Six Academics Share Their Experiences Before Delivering a Verdict on the System.” Times Higher Education, August 6, 2015. (Accessed November 18, 2017.)

Richardson, Henry S. “Editorial: Quality and the Review Process.” Ethics 126, no. 1 (2015): 1–6.

Shatz, David. “Is Peer Review Overrated?The Monist 79, no. 4 (1996): 536–563.

Tennant, Jonathan P., Jonathan M. Dugan, Daniel Graziotin, Damien C. Jacques, François Waldner, Daniel Mietchen, Yehia Elkhatib, Lauren B. Collister, Christina K. Pikas, Tom Crick, Paola Masuzzo, Anthony Caravaggi, Devin R. Berg, Kyle E. Niemeyer, Tony Ross-Hellauer, Sara Mannheimer, Lillian Rigling, Daniel S. Katz, Bastian Greshake Tzovaras, Josmel Pacheco-Mendoza, Nazeefa Fatima, Marta Poblet, Marios Isaakidis, Dasapta Erwin Irawan, Sébastien Renaut, Christopher R. Madan, Lisa Matthias, Jesper Nørgaard Kjær, Daniel Paul O'Donnell, Cameron Neylon, Sarah Kearns, Manojkumar Selvaraju, and Julien Colomb. “A Multi-Disciplinary Perspective on Emergent and Future Innovations in Peer Review.” F1000Research 6 (2017): Article 1151.

Turner, Leigh. “Doffing the Mask: Why Manuscript Reviewers Ought to Be Identifiable.” Journal of Academic Ethics 1, no. 1 (2003): 41–48.

Weinberg, Justin. “Solidarity Instead of Pseudonymity: An Alternative Strategy for ‘Controversial Ideas’.” Daily Nous, November 19, 2018. (Accessed February 2, 2019.).

Whyte, Kyle Powys. “Systematic Discrimination in Peer Review: Some Reflections.” Daily Nous, May 7, 2017. (Accessed May 8, 2017.)

[51] This formulation takes up the language that The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism includes in its official author guidelines: “We encourage authors to check whether there are significant but under-recognized papers or books by women, or from other under-represented groups, which you might have overlooked so far in producing your paper and/or assembling your reference list.”

[52] Carole Lee and Christian Schunn have shown that within philosophy there is not only considerable pressure to reject papers during the peer-review process, but also a tendency to employ aggressive and even hostile language in the reviews themselves. [Lee, Carole J., and Christian D. Schunn. “Social Biases and Solutions for Procedural Objectivity.” Hypatia 26, no. 2 (2011): 352–373.]