A reader writes:
I'm a regular reader of The Philosophers' Cocoon, and, as an assistant professor, I have found it quite helpful as a I find my way on the path towards tenure. I'm looking for some advice on a recent issue I've run into with the peer-review process. I submitted an article to a decent journal, though hardly a top journal, that is fairly pluralistic (they publish analytic, history of philosophy, and continental philosophy). My article is on a historical figure, certainly a part of the canon, but a minor figure in the eyes of many (he is never mentioned in any AOS, for instance). The article criticized a leading philosopher's commentary on an argument by the historical figure, and then presented and defended an alternative interpretation of that argument. I received comments from one reviewer that are clearly revise and resubmit comments, and the revision would be fairly straight forward. The reviewer said I was right and that the article was well-written and clear. The reviewer then presented a few questions I might consider addressing.
Now, my article was rejected, not because it lacked merit, the editor of the journal explicitly recognized its merit based on the reviewer's comments. The article was rejected because the editor was not able to find another person to review the article. The editor concluded that because another reviewer could not be found, that meant the readers of the journal would not be interested in the article's subject. I'm pretty sure that is not a good inference, and more importantly, I don't see why that warrants rejection. The editor claims that their attempts to find a reviewer were sustained and genuine, though I'm doubtful. I can think of at least 20 people capable of reviewing my article. They had the article for less than two months, and according to Andrew Cullision's page, their average is closer to 4 months.
I am tempted to write the editor with the names of possible reviewers, and an explanation that the comments I did receive suggest a revise and resubmit, not a rejection. I am also tempted to cut my losses and move on to another journal. I need to land a few articles in the next year as tenure approaches, so such a rejection is very disappointing. It appears I'm being rejected because the editor at the journal could not properly carry out an editor's duties. Any thoughts from you or your readers?
I have to confess that I have no idea what to say about this case. Anyone with experience have any good ideas?