One in The Times Higher Education; the other in the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies (requires subscription). The second is a wide-ranging piece with a lot of interesting points that go far beyond the specialist field the journal serves. I certainly support the claim that an editorial vision for a journal is important and that editors are not just neutral functionaries. The first piece, from a philosopher, raises a number of flaws in the existing system, particularly focusing on the risk of ‘cartels’ supporting their own work, and preventing paradigm-challenging work getting through. It ends with a suggestion:
And if public funding really is to be determined by the decisions of the journals, let us make them transparent. Let us see with each published paper a date of submission, date of acceptance and names of the referees. Let authors know in advance the average decision time. Let us know if asked to revise and resubmit whether it will go back to the same referees or to different ones.
All of these are done with Society and Space, with the exception of publishing referee names. (Average decision time is difficult to estimate, but I’ll give as much of an indication as I can to any author who asks.) I’m not sure about publishing referee names. How would referees react if they knew that their names would be published, and that they would be in some sense be held accountable for the quality of papers published. A paper that gets published is generally, but not always, supported by all referees – to make this a condition means you end up giving each referee a veto on a paper. All editors know that referees rarely agree with each other entirely. So publishing names would allow authors to work out who all their referees were, and identify a potentially critical referee. The difficulty of getting referees to do reports, promptly and professionally, means I am wary of anything that makes people less willing to do it. Referees are already publicly thanked in the end of year referee list, so publishing names next to papers would do nothing additional to recognise their work.