Scholarship

UPDATED: Response Time Problems at Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy

UPDATE: Victor Caston has written to let me know that he did not seek a renewal of his term and will soon complete his term as editor. I will still pass on the experiences I receive to the editorial board, as I believe it might be helpful in determining best practices for OSAP going forward. I will also share any news I have about the transition when I have it.

ORIGINAL POST: Recently several people have reached out to me noting continued experiences of serious delays in editorial responses at Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy.  Many junior scholars report waiting 8-15 months for an initial verdict on their submission. See recent reports from the APA Journal Surveys project, as well as comments on journal experiences at Daily Nous and on my previous post on journal experiences. They also report either receiving no response or a significantly delayed response when they write to ask about the status of their submissions. I received an email from OSAP’s editor, Victor Caston, in 2019 claiming that the situation was being addressed, but based on the testimony I’ve received it appears that the problem remains.

I’m writing to see if others in the field have similar experiences. Please comment (you may do so anonymously) or email me if you have recent experience with submitting to OSAP. If this is a widespread experience, as the testimony I’ve heard so far indicates, something needs to be done. After gathering information, I plan to write to the editorial board of OSAP, share what I know, and ask them to look into the matter. It’s unacceptable for a major journal in our field to take more than 6 months to give an initial response to junior scholars. Given the pressure to publish and the state of the academy, junior scholars cannot be placed in a position where they either have to wait an untenably long time or refrain from submitting to what has historically been a leading venue in the field.

Disclosure: I have not personally submitted anything to OSAP while Victor Caston has been editor, so I have no direct experience one way or the other.

13 Comments

  • Scott O'Connor

    Thanks for doing this Caleb. I have yet to hear about a paper I submitted in January, 2020 and have received no replies to my queries about its status.

  • Somebody Junior

    I have had papers tied up, certainly not actually under review by anyone, at OSAP under this editor. After an astonishing amount of time (year+) and after finally building up courage to poke the bear with an inquiry about the status of the paper, I’ve finally gotten “referee reports” (what look like hastily drawn up comments from the editor himself). No acceptances or invitations to revise/resubmit. I am a junior scholar.

    • now tenured

      I had the exact same experience. Never submitted again to the OSAP. the article that was rejected that way ended up being published on AP.

  • Also Junior

    I also have a paper that has been under review with OSAP for 14 months. No reply to inquiries about its status.

  • Junior-ish

    My experience is from 2017-18, so a bit old now. Six months after submitting the paper, I wrote to ask about it. No response. After pestering the editor a few mores times, I got a long report and a rejection from the editor after about 9 months. The wait time is one thing, but I found it troubling that the editor (who is not a specialist on the topic) took it upon himself to reject the paper alone. (This was no a quick desk rejection.) There was no pretense of blind review. In fairness, though, I should say that the comments probably helped the paper get published in the long-run.

    Long wait times are a problem. But as I see it, it is worse not to use blind review and for the editor himself to be the sole arbiter, including when the paper’s topic is not his speciality. Anecdotally, I have heard from many junior people about indefinitely long wait times, sometimes with no response after years. Many junior people now believe that they just can’t afford to submit to OSAP. The situation could be helped by implementing blind review and having a managing editor. An online submission system would also help.

  • unnamed

    I submitted a paper in 2019. No reply to all my inquiries. I also heard similar stories from other people. In order to treat every submitter fairly, I think OSAP, like other journals, should introduce a submission system and a truly blind peer review procedure

  • Doctoral candidate

    I submitted a paper in mid-2020. I received a short note saying that it takes about four to six months until I may expect to receive a rejection or acceptance (which, at least, didn’t sound to me like a desk rejection). My first thought was that “four to six months” sounds pretty unrealistic. I didn’t pester Caston with queries ever since. I might start doing so in a few months though … Thank you very much for this illuminating (and quite scandalous) blog post!

  • Tushar Irani

    For the sake of a bit of balance, I’ve posted on Daily Nous a couple of comments on my more positive experience at OSAP in 2017-18 and 2019-20. See here:

    https://dailynous.com/2021/03/03/notably-good-experiences-with-philosophy-journals/#comment-422582

    And here:

    https://dailynous.com/2021/03/02/philosophy-journal-horror-stories/#comment-422619

    My experience didn’t involve the non-responsiveness others mention above. It did involve two long wait periods after my first submission in 2017 and an R&R in 2019, but each time this was due to a pending reader report, and I believe Caston did what he could to hurry things along.

    I can also share, tentatively, some of what I learned about institutional practices at OSAP from Brad Inwood several years ago. (Happy to be told I’m wrong or am misremembering if this is the case.) As the comment over on Daily Nous that started this thread notes, OSAP occupies an intermediary space between a traditional journal and an invitation-only book series. The editors have more authority over what makes it into the journal and unlike other venues they are genuine editors, meaning their involvement in the process of a paper being submitted, reviewed, revised, accepted, and published is very hands on and not just an adjudicatory role. That said, there *is* a submissions and blind-review process, and volumes appear biannually, which makes OSAP more journal-like and less vulnerable to the nepotism problems that can be a feature of other edited books. A minority of submitted papers make it off an editor’s desk to the blind-review stage and after that response times depend on the readers. This also means bottlenecks can develop in the pre-blind-review stage while a paper sits with the editor.

    I’m not endorsing the above, just stating what I understand (maybe imperfectly) to be OSAP’s practices, which don’t seem to have changed much over several editorships. Many moons ago I submitted a paper when the series was edited by Inwood and had an experience very much like the one I had recently, though it ended in a rejection and yielded only one reader report. It would be great if Caleb could get some more clarity here. I agree with many of the suggestions above that OSAP and the editor would benefit from having a larger staff, especially a submissions manager.

  • Classicist

    I will add my comment here simply to help give a better sense of the numbers affected. I submitted a piece in early 2018 and never heard back, even after sending multiple email follow-ups. The piece should have been rejected, as I now see it was simply “not quite there yet”. However, I was disappointed and somewhat personally hurt not to hear anything at all. OSAP has a special place in the history of ancient philosophical scholarship, particularly in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. My doctoral supervisor had been an editor and so many of its pieces had a impact on my development as an academic. I was just very sad to be treated in the way I was and I am horrified so many younger scholars have had similar experiences . I am a very great admirer of Professor Caston’s work and we should all be grateful for his groundbreaking thoughts on supervenience and epiphenomenalism. His published pieces are a model of precision, care, and insight. But this is simply heartbreaking.

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