‘Whiteness’ journal returns from mysterious hiatus

An academic journal on “white privilege” has resumed publishing after it went dark following a Campus Reform report on its unusually brief peer-review process.

The journal, Whiteness in Education, claimed to publish “peer-reviewed” academic articles on issues such as “critical discussions of white racism, white identity, privilege, power, and intersectionality.”

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However, a September probe uncovered that a majority of articles were “accepted” for publication just two days after being “received,” an extremely short time frame that would likely not allow for proper peer-review, academics told Campus Reform, saying the process typically takes between two and six months.

Shortly after Campus Reform published its report, the journal stopped following its normal publishing schedule, while the journal’s editors and all 21 members of its editorial board declined to comment on the peer-review process multiple times.

Now, the journal has resumed publishing, though this time the peer review process appears to be unusually lengthy. For instance, the journal’s latest article, titled “Immersed in the Struggle: Confronting Whiteness in a Sea of Whiteness,” appears to have undergone a review process lasting just over a year.

In fact, Campus Reform observed that the article was listed as “Received 27 Dec 2016, Accepted 29 Dec 2017,” indicating that peer-review took exactly one year and two days.

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Considering that Whiteness in Education has a history of accepting articles exactly two days after submission, Campus Reform inquired with the journal’s editors in regards to whether the dates were manipulated to give the illusion that the article underwent an extensive review process.

Neither Nicola Rollock, the journal’s editor, nor Elizabeth Kenyon, the Kent State University professor who wrote the article, responded to multiple inquiries regarding the possible discrepancy.

Another article published this month also apparently underwent a nearly year-long review process, though in this case it is listed as having been accepted in January 2017, when the journal was still publishing articles within two days of being received.

Neither Rollock nor the article’s author responded to inquiries as to why the article wasn’t published earlier, given the journal’s previous editorial practices.

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In a September interview, Lee Jussim, a psychology professor at Rutgers University, told Campus Reform that the peer review processes of academic articles normally takes 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 technology might fasttrack 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, a noted expert in predatory academic journals, also expressed concern about Whiteness in Education’s peer-review process.

“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 told Campus Reform in September.

Whiteness in Education launched in April 2016 as a sister publication to the journal Race, Ethnicity and Education (REE), which describes itself as the “leading peer-reviewed journal on racism and race inequality in education.” Both journals are edited Nicola Rollock and David Gilbourn, who are affiliated with the the University of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom.

Campus Reform has reached out multiple times to the journal’s lead editors, all 21 members of its editorial board, and its publishing company Routledge for comment, but none have responded.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen