Friday, April 5, 2019
MOVING TO FRONT FROM MONDAY--ADDITIONAL COMMENTS WELCOME
Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon (Berkeley) called to my attention a case of bad editorial practices, in this instance, involving the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, a distinguished journal in its field. Briefly, JELS rejected an article of Professor Solomon's, sending along two referee reports; however, the editors revised one of the referee reports to make it sound less positive than it really was. Professor Solomon discovered this because the referee had contacted him about his paper independently. Professor Solomon submitted a "letter to the editor" of JELS about this matter, but JELS declined to break with its practice of not publishing such letters, so Professor Solomon supplied the letter to me (along with other documentation): Download Letter to the Editor JELS. The letter sets out the details of what transpired.
Journal editors are well within their rights to disregard the recommendations of referees or to disagree with their ultimate assessments. Journal editors may also decide not to share referee reports with authors, or not to share them in full. But what they should not do, out of respect for both their referees and authors, is unilaterally revise the content of a referee report to make it support their independent decision. One hopes this is an anomalous incident. I've opened comments here in case the editors or others wish to comment. Comments must include a full name and a valid e-mail address, or they will not appear.