ICYMI: The Case for Colonialism

posted
17-Sep-17, 16:15
edited about 24 seconds later
by Trilla
Avatar for Trilla
posted about 3 years ago
Hi Nad75 thank you for sharing this.

I am a historian and a Taylor and Francis journal editor and I am really shocked by this abstract and article, not because of the ideas per se (that's standard pro-colonial theory that has been around for the past 250 years.), but because these are expressed without any supporting evidence. Has this article been edited at all? Peer reviewed?

If the author is rebuking something as solidly constructed as postcolonial theory, I would expect some equally solid argument in return. This is not about silencing academics, it's standing up for academic rigour and intellectual standards.

Stylistically it is full of colloquialisms and journalistic language.

A sentence such as: "Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts" is just a personal opinion as it does not tell us what these realistic measures are and how these 'objective benefits' are - and what is 'subjectively legitimate'? There are no references to objective parameters in spite of the (empty) reference to them.

I would desk-reject this article - without sending it to peer review. I can deal very well with people thinking differently from me (I am a 19th century historian, basically, all the subjects of my study were either colonialists or supporters of colonialism) but I will not condone rants passing for journal articles.

The petition on change.org which calls for its retraction states its case eloquently: “The offending article has brought widespread condemnation from scholars around the globe. The article lacks empirical evidence, contains historical inaccuracies, and includes spiteful fallacies. There is also an utter lack of rigor or engaging with existing scholarship on the issue…We do not call for the curtailing of the writer’s freedom of speech. We instead hold ourselves and our colleagues in academia to higher standards than this. We expect academic journals to do the same."

I urge you to sign the petition on change.org.
posted
18-Sep-17, 07:40
edited about 28 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 3 years ago
Thanks for the additional insight Trilla. Has anyone seen any communication from the author about this paper since? Are they a respected academic or just a random person with an academic job?
posted
18-Sep-17, 08:05
by Nad75
Avatar for Nad75
posted about 3 years ago
Dear Trilla,

Thank you very much for your reply and explanation!I I appreciate your insight and I will definitely sign the petition.
posted
18-Sep-17, 13:39
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From Trilla:
Hi Nad75 thank you for sharing this.

I am a historian and a Taylor and Francis journal editor and I am really shocked by this abstract and article, not because of the ideas per se (that's standard pro-colonial theory that has been around for the past 250 years.), but because these are expressed without any supporting evidence. Has this article been edited at all? Peer reviewed?

If the author is rebuking something as solidly constructed as postcolonial theory, I would expect some equally solid argument in return. This is not about silencing academics, it's standing up for academic rigour and intellectual standards.

Stylistically it is full of colloquialisms and journalistic language.

A sentence such as: "Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts" is just a personal opinion as it does not tell us what these realistic measures are and how these 'objective benefits' are - and what is 'subjectively legitimate'? There are no references to objective parameters in spite of the (empty) reference to them.

I would desk-reject this article - without sending it to peer review. I can deal very well with people thinking differently from me (I am a 19th century historian, basically, all the subjects of my study were either colonialists or supporters of colonialism) but I will not condone rants passing for journal articles.

The petition on change.org which calls for its retraction states its case eloquently: “The offending article has brought widespread condemnation from scholars around the globe. The article lacks empirical evidence, contains historical inaccuracies, and includes spiteful fallacies. There is also an utter lack of rigor or engaging with existing scholarship on the issue…We do not call for the curtailing of the writer’s freedom of speech. We instead hold ourselves and our colleagues in academia to higher standards than this. We expect academic journals to do the same."

I urge you to sign the petition on change.org.


This is a great example of how to challenge a published article in a professional manner.
Good luck with the petition.
posted
18-Sep-17, 16:09
by jambo
Avatar for jambo
posted about 3 years ago
I have read the article. I am angry that a professor can get away with it. I would never be able to publish such an incendiary piece of work, that lacks academic methods. There was no need for the author to shame post-colonial scholars to show his disagreement. He speaks in such a condescending manner, I am surprised the editor accepted it.

To finish it off, he did not even bother with presenting his argument in a scientific way.

I am so angry that some people can get away with such things, when the rest of us get articles rejected for not being rigorous, for not explaining concepts, for not providing supporting evidence, for not offering a fair assessment of the scholarship etc.

I do not think he ever explained what colonialism is. I have not seen it treated extensively in the paper. He assumes we know what he means. But this is a theoretical paper. How can he not dedicate some sections of his paper to discussing this concept?

Where is the care and respect for academic research in this paper? This is infuriating.
posted
19-Sep-17, 13:11
edited about 4 seconds later
by Nad75
Avatar for Nad75
posted about 3 years ago
For those that are curious, the editor-in-chief's response is here (1 page):
(If it feels TL:DR, it is basically saying the ball is in our court, for some reason. It is now up to all scholars who do follow rigorous guidelines of presenting arguments and supportive evidence to now try to argue against a guy who has no real case. And that blind-peer-review did happen.) I do wish my articles were blind peer-reviewed that lightly, lol!

Looks like the case is closed, although still quite mysterious and I'm not sure academics are going to fall for the editor passing the buck. We do have more important articles to tackle than debating Gilley.
posted
19-Sep-17, 15:32
edited about 16 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 3 years ago
Thank you for posting.
posted
19-Sep-17, 16:02
by Nad75
Avatar for Nad75
posted about 3 years ago
Welcome :)
posted
23-Sep-17, 12:36
by jambo
Avatar for jambo
posted about 3 years ago
About 15 members of the editorial board have resigned, following the decision of the Editor. Their main concern is that the paper failed the peer-review process, yet the editor decided to publish it anyways.

https://www.change.org/p/editors-of-the-third-world-quarterly-retract-the-case-for-colonialism/u/21397870?utm_medium=email&utm_source=petition_update&utm_campaign=144567&sfmc_tk=XlUYAk9HIoMHrBg4vwDXLn851mo35tyi5e2vYa99EoMYGYPOTvJzkEI5OBYyf8Aa&j=144567&sfmc_sub=235485603&l=32_HTML&u=27453908&mid=7259882&jb=8
posted
24-Sep-17, 14:17
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 years ago
Crikey. So how did it get published then - through some administrative error? And if intentionally then for what purpose?
posted
24-Sep-17, 18:45
edited about 25 seconds later
by Nad75
Avatar for Nad75
posted about 3 years ago
Goodness, that resignation was fast! I feel sorry for the articles that are in the pipeline for publishing, quite a clog with the resignation.

Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Crikey. So how did it get published then - through some administrative error? And if intentionally then for what purpose?


Honestly, if the the editor in chief's palms weren't greased by Gilley, then he made a big mistake, lol! I initially thought bribery was involved, and this makes it more suspicious. Such blatant lying about a double-peer review is very damaging to his career as an editor.
posted
24-Sep-17, 21:08
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 years ago
I see! ! !

Quote From Nad75:
Goodness, that resignation was fast! I feel sorry for the articles that are in the pipeline for publishing, quite a clog with the resignation.


Well to be honest, I'd want to publish my paper elsewhere if I had submitted it there - so I'd retract my manuscript mid review process if that were possible!
posted
25-Sep-17, 08:38
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 3 years ago
Wow, that's pretty shocking. So the piece was initially rejected from a special issue without even going for review, then it was reconsidered for something else and peer reviewed and then rejected, but then the editor published it anyway?! That editor can kiss their academic career goodbye then.

I doubt this is an administrative error. I worked at a journal briefly, and it would be pretty hard to make this kind of mistake. Even if the editor pressed the wrong button let's say, accept rather than reject, it would come up again and again as it was going through the publication process and the editor should recognise what articles are and know whether they are correctly included in issues or not. Especially one as high profile as this.
posted
25-Sep-17, 09:34
edited about 1 minute later
by Trilla
Avatar for Trilla
posted about 3 years ago
It is interesting to think that the article failed peer review and it was still published. Sometimes I reject articles that 'passed' peer review because the author has made a complete chaotic mess of the revision which the reviewers asked.

There is one thing that needs to be pointed out: every editor wants to publish articles and it is not out of any secret agenda or personal vendetta that I reject. I hate rejecting, but it is important to do so. It is for the reputation of the journal but, ultimately, of the author themselves - many times when I have stopped an article in its tracks, the author was upset, but after a few months' they agreed with me and stated that, with distance, they realised the article was not ready. And in many cases the article comes back with further thought and sees publication! Sometimes the article is perfectly fine but not right for the scope of the journal.

I agree with Tree of Life that this cannot be an admin error (but I would be inclined to exclude bribery). I am wondering if the journal had a few quality submission and the editor was desperate to make up the page quote that the publishers have set? Having a 'budget' for the journal (although I understand the constraints the publishers have) it is the bane of my life. I'd rather publish less but the publishers ***always*** want more...

I looked at the editor's profile when this matter started and I could not find anything about them, no articles, no academic institution page and no online profile - that by itself rings an alarm bell: if you were to look for me you'd find my publications, sample of articles, not to self-publicise but to give evidence that, if you were to choose me as editor, I am able to do my job and that I am a serious scholar. Why is this person editing a journal if they have no experience in the field?This is not a rhetorical question but a real question.
posted
25-Sep-17, 09:52
edited about 20 minutes later
by Trilla
Avatar for Trilla
posted about 3 years ago
The truth is that academic publishing is a crooked business.

Taylor and Francis (informa.com, a multinational) does not pay editors (but gives a generous 'expense accounts' which is, de facto, a wage (in my case about £5,000 per printed issue) but then asks for more and more administrative hoops and loops to jumps through, so the job attracts either:
* people like me who are, for whatever reason, in between stages of their career (I am finishing my PhD after years in publishing and this is a good way for me to be active in the field, earn some money and do something worthwhile) or
* very established scholars (who have little time) who enjoy a little more money on top of their wages and are happy to provide a service to the field.

Unfortunately because the administrative and technical onus of editing now is increasing so much, and there is less and less money in academia, I am concerned that journal editing is now attracting people who aren't competent in either, 'you pay peanuts, you get monkeys' - and these mistakes happen. T&F should employ scholars as professional editors and pay them a good wage - these mistakes (oversights? overstressed? overworked? or just incompetent?) would not happen, or happen less.

Peer review by itself, sadly, is not a guarantee of serious scholarship - I had complete **conkers** passing peer review - people are hurried, stressed, they do not want to make mistakes and so they tick articles off and approve; on the other hand there are vindictive, jealous scholars that stop perfectly good articles in their tracks because they are not done exactly they would have done it, or worse (actively stopping competitors).

That's why a good editor is vital. because they are ultimately not invested in the minutiae at stake in the article but very much invested in the journal. They want good text.

But I am afraid that with these new automated editorial manager systems the publishers are thinking that the editor is just a cog in the machine of publishing. (continues)

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