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Yep, I say write to the editor with the list of names (and emails) of potential reviewers. That's *so* bizarre that they would even say that. I've had articles accepted on the basis of a single reviewer a few times.

Lee Walters

If I were you, I'd write to the editor with a list of potential reviewers, pointing out any potential conflicts of interest: maybe some of the list were former advisers etc. Phrase this as trying to be helpful, rather than as a way of rectifying an injustice.

But I would leave it at that. The fact that you can think of suitable reviewers does not mean that the editor is not doing their job. Perhaps these reviewers have been approached but have declined because of time pressure. It's unlikely that this is true of all 20, but perhaps the editor doesn't trust some of the other reviewers for whatever reason, etc. And given competing demands on their time, it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that they stop searching for referees after a certain number of attempts.

I can also imagine that you telling an editor that your paper deserved an R&R would not sit well with many editors.

Finally, there could be other reasons why the editor has decided not to publish your paper that they have not revealed to you. And I think the editor is within their rights to reject a paper on the basis that the readership will not find it interesting.


I think this is a case where you need to read between the lines and move on. Given the information you've provided, it is not unreasonable to think that the editor wasn't a fan of your paper to begin with, and was looking for an excuse to reject it. We all think our papers are great, but if the people running the journals we submit to just aren't feeling it, then its unlikely to get published in their journals, even with positive reports. I wouldn't even bother spending your energy on this. Just send it elsewhere.

Kenny Pearce

I would also probably move on. If the philosopher you are writing about is one of the 'big 7' early modern philosophers, then the editor's remark is absurd, and you should keep submitting to generalist journals. If it is a more obscure figure than that, you should perhaps try history journals. BJHP, HPQ, and Archiv fur Geschichte all regularly publish work of the sort you describe, and will be better able to deal with 'minor' historical philosophers.

Moti Mizrahi

I second the call to move on. From my experience with editors, writing to them is almost always a waste of time. In most cases, they will simply not reply. Even if they do reply, they are unlikely to reconsider their decision.

Just recently I had a paper rejected by a journal. I was lucky enough to receive comments from three referees. The first recommended acceptance, the second minor revisions, and the third rejection. I could write to the editor about this but I won't. It will probably be a waste of time. Just move on.


A friend of mine just successfully had a paper go out for a 2nd, fresh round of review after writing the editor to say that her paper was initially rejected for very poor, insufficient reasons.

Sometimes it works. I don't think one has much to lose with a well-crafted email.

Chris T.

You should definitely send them the 20 names, in hopes that they come to their senses, but you should also heed the advice of Dan above and just be prepared to move on.

Also, though you seem to not want to do it, you should post the name of the journal here. It's shameful for an editor to hang on for a piece for two months, and then not follow through on the commitment of even sending it out. Desk rejections should be swift. Journal editors too often see their venues as self-appointed fiefdoms. Journal practices (esp. in the humanities) are extraordinarily dated. While you may not feel like you are in a good position to exert pressure, making the fact known helps, because those of us who are a little more senior have *plenty* of leeway to complain, or not send our work to said journal, or just generally grumble if the editor emails us asking us to review the next submission (yes, I'd be happy to, but I saw *this* post online, and I'd like you to guarantee that you won't desk reject *after* I've sent in my review). You see, your editor not only wasted your time, but they also wasted the time of reviewer number one, who kindly volunteered their efforts to this journal. Frustrating. Dated.

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