Academics say 'whiteness' journal has fishy peer review process

A popular journal that claims to publish “peer reviewed” research on white privilege appears to lack peer review, according to a Campus Reform analysis.

The journal Whiteness and Education, published by Routledge, vows to publish “peer reviewed” research on issues surrounding “critical discussions of White racism, White identity, privilege, power, and intersectionality.”

In the last few months, the journal has published numerous articles on social justice issues, including one urging the “destruction” of “whitestream intellectual habits,” and another urging professors to “dismantle whiteness.”

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But while these articles purportedly passed a peer review process, a closer look shows that both were “accepted” for publication just one day after they were “received” by the publisher—an extremely short time frame that suggests the articles may not have undergone a properly rigorous peer review.

Most peer review processes in the social sciences take at least a few weeks, if not a few months, professors with experience in publishing academic papers told Campus Reform.

For example, on September 19, the journal published an article on the “destruction” of “whitestream intellectual habits.” It was accepted for publication on August 11, just one day after it was submitted by James C Jupp, a professor at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

Similarly, Jodi Linley’s article on “deconstructing whiteness” was approved for publication just two business days (four calendar days) after submission. Another article, “I’m not racist, my high school was diverse,” was accepted just three business days after it was submitted.

One article, “Using Intersectionality as a Tool for Teaching Social Justice,” was even accepted on the very same day it was submitted, July 25.

In fact, with the exception of one lone article, which took three weeks to approve, all articles published by the journal of Whiteness and Education this summer and fall were approved within two business days of submission.

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Campus Reform reached out to all 21 members of the editorial board to inquire about the journal’s peer review practices, and none responded. Nicola Rollock, the journal’s Editor, also did not respond to multiple inquiries from Campus Reform.

Lee Jussim, a psychology professor at Rutgers University, told Campus Reform that the peer review processes of academic journals in most social sciences normally take at least six weeks.  

“In psychology, it usually takes two to six months to complete a review process.  Most journals shoot for it being two to three months, but stuff happens,” Jussim said. “ It is hard for me to imagine a review typically taking much under six weeks.”

While Jussim said he can imagine that technology might speed up the peer review process, he also remarked that “if anyone has created a serious peer review system that can take less than two weeks, I would be dying to hear about it. It would be revolutionary.”

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Jeffrey Beall, an expert on predatory journals and a professor at the University of Colorado-Denver, also expressed concern about the journal’s peer review process in an interview with Campus Reform.

“If research articles [are] being accepted this quickly, then yes, something is wrong. If it is accepting research articles within several days after their submission, then the journal is showing a characteristic of a predatory journal,” Beall said.

He added that peer review is crucial for good research.

“Peer review exists not only to weed out unscientific research but also to make good articles better,” he explained. “Articles such as this one could be made better with a proper peer review, which this one clearly did not have.”

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“For example, peer reviews can point out errors, omissions, and inconsistencies,” he noted. “If the journal is eschewing peer review, then what's the point of having a scholarly journal? The works could just as well be published on a blog.”

Campus Reform repeatedly reached out to the publisher of Whiteness and Education, The Taylor and Francis Group (Routledge) for comment for this article, but did not receive a response.  

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen