I am saddened to see the post that Dr. Libarkin has made in the listserv regarding
the new journal that is available to the community (JAESE), as she failed to include
Prior to Dr. Libarkin’s post on this listserv, she made a request of the publisher of
JAESE regarding a publication. A subset of the editorial board, selected for their
expertise in publishing in both science education and in “hard science,” was quickly
convened. I was the board member who managed the subcommittee. It was
decided that the request was both philosophically flawed and lacked support in
evidence or fact. As a result, her request was denied.
Her failure to mention this, in her post, fails to meet a rather low bar in terms of
bending over backwards for the sake of intellectual honesty. I think most of us
would honestly say that we would be skeptical if someone chimed in on the listserv
saying: “I’m not sure that we should support this journal, and by the way, I just
made a request of the journal and the editorial board turned me down.”
Nonetheless, intellectual integrity requires us to make such disclosures, especially
when we are bringing the integrity of others into question.
What is more personally disappointing is that in her post Dr. Libarkin wrote: “I do
not know anything about the JAESE journal.” Given that she has known the editor
for more than a decade, knows numerous members of the editorial board, myself
included, filed a request with the publisher, has read the journal, and has done
some work to find gossip that might discredit the journal, her statement that she
doesn’t know anything is disingenuous. Indeed, it is a false statement.
In the interest of confidentiality, including Dr. Libarkin’s right to privacy, I don’t
think that the details of her denied request to the journal should be discussed in
this forum. However, her interaction with the journal thus far, provides her with at
least some small potential stake in smearing the name of the journal (and of the
authors published therein). It is therefore germane, should be equally public, and
should factor into the value of what she has written here.
As we turn a more objective and scholarly lens on the topic of publishing, we
should be talking about a journal based on the merit of the work that it publishes.
If we want to say anything about a journal, we should probably first read the work
in it. If we have serious concerns that the work is subpar, and we actually want to
chime in, in the interests of improving the field, we might contact a member of the
editorial board to see if they are aware, and if there is something that we can do to
improve matters. Until we do those things, chiming in on a listserv and dismissing
the value of a journal that has published the work of our colleagues, is little more
than trolling. We can do better than that.
In this case, we should note that the five publications in the first volume of JAESE
are all important to the field and demonstrate quality of scholarship. We could be
talking about and encouraging good work, discussing how the work situates in and
informs the field. To instead focus on whether or not we like page charges,
dismisses the effort and scholarship of our colleagues. We might also talk about
how four of the five publications belong to solo women. This is encouraging. Given
that our field frequently struggles with issues of gender parity, dismissing the
scholarly work of four women in the geosciences, without bothering to read their
work, is probably not the way we want to go. Instead, let's have some discussion
about the value of diverse voices in our field and the ways in which we can
encourage and facilitate diversity through publication.
As a member of the editorial board, I can say that the editorial board is active, is
highly qualified, is committed to creating a new space where astronomy and
geoscience education researchers can publish their work (at the same price
charged to them by JGE, and well under the open access charges of most
journals), and that we are especially committed to publishing the works of new
researchers, and researchers from the international community. I think it is worth
giving that a chance.
Stephanie Slater, Ph.D.
CAPER Center for Astronomy & Physics Education Research