Synthese received a volley of objections to part of a special issue. See here to view a description of the problem. Below is a response from the editors. This response is largely about preventitive practical and procedural issues. As readers will see, there will be a more explanatory response later, when more is known.
I think we should heartily welcome what seems to be a significant move toward transparency regarding what happened and what will be done.
———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: 27 January 2016 at 18:34
Name: Gila Sher
Message: We would like to reiterate our apology for any offense caused by the special issue article published in Synthese and also our strong commitment to feminist and LGBT values. We would also like to reassert our commitment to high-quality publications and assure the community of our dedication to high professional and humanistic standards.
We have considered complex ethical issues related to the published article. We take full responsibility for all the articles published by Synthese and we do not want to change the status of any accepted article. We believe that (except for extreme circumstances like plagiarism) all accepted articles should remain part of the scholarly record and a possible point of further discussion in the academic debate.
The events around this paper have led us once again to revisit our procedures regarding special issues. Shortly after beginning our appointment as editors in chief in 2012 our team installed new guidelines and rules for special issues (see the Synthese website), which include doubly anonymous reviews and oversight by the editors in chief. We carefully checked our records concerning the article in question and the special issue to which it belongs and contacted the guest editor and Springer, our publisher. Our procedure for special issues says that, after a guest editor has made an acceptance recommendation regarding a paper, the final decision is made by the editors in chief. Regrettably, due to an unfortunate human error, this particular paper was not sent to the editors in chief after the guest editor had entered his recommendation into the editorial management system. We are working with Springer to fully understand the problem and make sure that it does not recur.
To provide some more context, 27 articles were submitted to the special issue. Each was sent to two anonymous reviewers. 8 articles were rejected by the guest editor based on the reviews, and 19 articles were accepted after 1-4 cycles of revisions. Of these, 18 were sent to the editors in chief following the guest editor’s recommendation to accept the papers, and after an inspection by the editors in chief they were accepted for publication.
In light of the problem and the resulting concerns about special issues we have decided to put a moratorium on new special issues. During the moratorium period we will reexamine our policies with regard to them, including quality control and other aspects of special issues. We will strive to conclude the review process in two to three months.
Of course, we will remain open to submission of articles to regular Synthese issues during this time. We will also respect our obligations to the guest editors and authors of special issues in various stages of preparation at Synthese at the present time. We will, however, make sure there is an adequate level of oversight on these issues while we are conducting our review.
Once we complete our investigations and review process we will issue an additional statement about our findings, the decisions we made concerning special issues, and the practical steps we have taken to prevent recurrence of the present problem to the best of our ability.
Thank you very much for your understanding, patience, and the support we have received.
Gila (Sher), Otávio (Bueno), and Wiebe (van der Hoek)
Editors in Chief