Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Paper Up-Date

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

As previously noted, I submitted my paper on indecision to yet another journal on 28 July. On 11 August, the reported status of the paper was changed to With Editor. Yester-day, 12 December, that was changed to Under Review, which indicates that the paper has been sent onward to one or more reviewers.

Editors generally have the authority to reject papers on their own authority. If they think that a paper might be appropriate to the journal, then they send the paper on to one or two reviewers, with ostensible expertise in the specific area of the paper. These reviewers judge the paper to be suitable as it stands, or suggest revisions that would make it suitable, or decide that it is unlikely to become suitable even after revision. At some journals, editors have the authority to over-rule reviewers, but such is rarely done.

Most submitted papers are rejected by editors before they reach reviewers. Most papers that reach reviewers are rejected by those reviewers. Most that are not rejected are required to be revised in some way, small or large.

I don't know why the paper was listed as With Editor for almost exactly four months. The editor may have been too busy to evaluate the paper at all, or may have spent a fair amount of time in his-or-her own evaluation of it, or may have had trouble finding a reviewer for it.

Movin' on down the Line

Sunday, 7 August 2011

After the fiasco with Theory and Decision (see my entry of 28 March and that of 18 April), I submitted my paper on indecision to yet another journal on 23 April.

To my surprise, that journal gave my paper for review to someone whom I regard as having a markèd conflict-of-interest. I know to whom they gave it because the rejecting review that I received on 16 Jun was, also to my surprise, attributed rather than anonymous.

Some of the criticism was legitimate, but would best have been handled by directing me to revise-and-resubmit. Some of the important criticism was absurd.

For example, the reviewer declared

this is not how one writes proofs in general (except may be in logic)
Considering that the propositions are almost exclusively formal logic (there not being much arithmetic to the structure), it's rather to be expected that the proofs will look as proofs (in or out of quotation marks) do in logic.

And, in defending the attempt to distinguish indecision from indifference found in Indifference or Indecision? by Eliaz and Ok, the reviewer wrote that Mrs Watson (a hypothetical agent presented in that paper)

is indecisive whenever she deems multiple choices as choosable
But she also deems multiple choices as choosable when she is indifferent, and in both cases (according to Eliaz and Ok) makes her decision by flipping a coin.

(In fact, Eliaz and Ok claim something more interesting about what distinguishes indecision from indifference, but an observable distinction does not result from it.)

I stared for a bit, and then sent to the reviewer a simple request for permission to cite the review in future versions of the paper. (I offered no argument or evaluation; I just requested permission to cite.) The review is plainly not itself a publication; it seems closer to being a personal communication. And one is supposed to secure permission before citing personal communications.

I waited for some days, and got no reply. I concluded that none would be forth-coming. I therefore effected what changes I felt should be made given that I could not cite the review, both to make straight-forward improvements, and to preëmptively meet repetition of what I regarded as illegitimate criticisms.

Then I went over my big spread-sheet o' econ journals, and selected the next journal to which to submit the paper. As with previous submissions, I read the author guidelines, and did some further rewriting and reformatting to tailor a version specific to that journal. I made the new submission on 28 July. Its reported status when I checked this morning was the same as that when I completed the submission process, so I presume that no editor has accepted assignment to it.

Not Dead; Just Pining

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The recent relative quiescence of this 'blog has obtained from a confluence of things. I have rival demands of my time or of my energy, have not always been in the best of moods, and have not known quite how I want to formulate some of the entries upon which I have been working.

With respect to the last, one problem has been that I've wanted to present the entries in a certain order (or at least a certain preörder), which has allowed bottle-necks to develop. I think, now, that I'd better loosen-up on some of these considerations of the order of entries.

Speeding-up by Slowing-Down

Friday, 1 July 2011

Having retrieved a previous month's USPS mail, I was flipping through the July-August issue of American Scientist (v99 #4), and found a picture captioned thus:

Middle-aged and elderly people exercising during Respect for the Aged Day in Tokyo in 2005. Japan's population is aging particularly quickly. The ratio of people younger than 20 compared to those older than 65 is shifting, from 9.3 in 1950 to a predicted 0.59 in 2025. If scientists succeed at slowing aging, this trend may well accelerate.
(Underscores mine.) So the caption is claiming that the population is aging quickly and may age even more quickly if aging is slowed.

Now, what's really happening in that caption is that the verb age is being used in two related but very different senses. In aging particularly quickly, the sense is one of increase in average chronological age; in slowing aging, the sense is one of become decrepit. The underlying thought is entirely reasonable; the expression is inept, because it moves from one meaning to the other (and then implicitly back to the first) without signally that it is doing so except in the sense that the passage is otherwise absurd; best not to make the reader sort-out such things.

I don't know who wrote that caption. The author of the piece in which it is embedded actually notes

the word aging refers to different things
exactly to explain how confusions of these meanings results in practice in logically invalid arguments.

Personal Miscellany

Monday, 23 May 2011

I was sufficiently perturbed by the typographical error in the version that I most recently submitted of my paper on indecision that I decided that, were it not bounced back to me before the first mensiversary of its submission, I would offer a correction. (My thought in waiting a month was that I should limit the frequency with which I pestered them.) I did so, and the journal accepted that with perfect helpfulness.

I am still wrestling with Sprint over charges to my account for mobile broadband service.

On 11 May, I opted to switch my principal operating system to Fedora. (I had been considering Scientific Linux as well.) I've since had some problems with installing fonts for all users, and the system has been a little bit flakier, but on the whole the new operating system has been a satisfying choice.

I am scheduled for some non-trivial dental work on the mornings of 26 and 27 May. Two fillings that I have had since childhood have eroded to the point that they should be replaced, and there is to be a deep cleaning below my gum-line.

The Woman of Interest and I will be visiting my parents for a few days at the end of the month. (I plan to stay-on for some time after she has flown away.)

Accidental Curve Ball

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Early on Saturday morning, I submitted my paper to yet another journal. Alas, on Sunday, I discovered a typographical error in one of the formulæ.

The formula should read R = {X_1,X_2,...}^2 \ {(X_1, X_2) s.t. [(X_1 WP X_2) v (X_2 WP X_1)]} But instead it read R = {X_1,X_2,...}^2 \ {(X_1, X_2) v. [(X_1 WP X_2) v (X_2 WP X_1)]} That's because I had been using a vertical bar for such that, intended to replace it with a backwards epsilon (to be consistent), but got lost or distracted and instead dropped-in a second disjunction sign.

Perhaps I should contact the editors, but this formula simply appears in an incidental remark. I can correct things if the paper is accepted, and I will just hope that no reviewer is so offended as to reject the paper based on the error.

[Up-Date (2011:05/23): I've been sufficiently perturbed about this matter that I decided that, were the paper not bounced-back to me before it had been in their hands for a month, I would send them a note, with a link to a correction. (The idea in waiting a month was to ration any pestering of the editors.) I did so a few minutes ago.]


Monday, 18 April 2011

My previously reported message to Springer, announcing that my paper was no longer on offer to them, was sent at 7:03 PM PDT on 28 March. (My last entry on the history of the submission was posted a couple of minutes later.) At 7:31 PM PDT, I received the fastest reply that I'd got from Springer:

We are extremely sorry for the delay.

I have not yet received any response from the editor in this regard.

However, I have taken your mail with high priority and will surely inform you about the outcome.

Many thanks for your patience.
As a general matter, it's an interesting tactic to act as if someone has not made a declaration that one doesn't want them to have made, in the hope that it will be rescinded de facto; sometimes that tactic works. But, while I would have been open to Springer's negotiating for the article, I continued to operate on the presumption that the paper would have to be submitted elsewhere.

I changed various things (largely as I'd indicated at the end of my previous entry on the paper), and began looking for-and-over a list of other journals to which I might submit it. (Unsurprisingly, I no longer considered any of those published by Springer to be candidates.)

Meanwhile, I noted that Springer's Editorial Manager continued to list my paper as Under review, and offered me no way of changing its status to indicate that it was not available for consideration. This creäted a potential problem. Typically, simultaneous submission of an article is not acceptable; and, while the article would not in fact have been simultaneously submitted, there was an all-too-plausible scenario under which it could appear to be.

Assuming that the handling editor at Springer has not been even more negligent than he appears to have been, there has been — and should be expected to continue to be — a very real problem finding reviewers for my paper. When the next journal begins looking for reviewers, they will be looking at largely the same pool. I could envision a reviewer saying Wait! I am already reviewing that paper for Theory and Decision! and an ugly mess ensuing.

To-day, at 12:39 PM, I sent the following to the Springer JEO Assistant, with a CC to the Editor-in-Chief,

On 28 March, I informed you that I was no longer offering this paper to you. However, I note that Editorial Manager continues to list it as "Under review", with seemingly no option for me as an author to stop that.

On 23 April, I will be submitting the latest version of the paper to another journal. If indeed this paper is somehow now in the hands of reviewers for Springer, then there is the unfortunate possibility that this other journal would call upon exactly the same reviewers. As I do not want the inappropriate conclusion to be drawn that the paper is being simultaneously submitted, you must contact any reviewers before 23 April, and inform them that the paper was withdrawn from your consideration on 28 March.

If the institutional arrangement there is such that handling editors do not tell you who in particular is reviewing a paper, then you are going to need make a sort of general announcement, as you plainly cannot rely upon the handling editor to act.
At 1:00 PM (even faster!), the following arrived:
I have received the decision from the Editor on your manuscript, THEO789 "Indifference, Indecision, and Coin-Flipping"

With regret, I must inform you that the Editor has decided that your manuscript cannot be accepted for publication in Theory and Decision.

Below, please find the comments for your perusal.

I would like to thank you very much for forwarding your manuscript to us for consideration and wish you every success in finding an alternative place of publication.
There were, in fact, no comments what-so-ever below. We may reasonably infer that they were not so much omitted by the JEO Assistant as simply never made in the first place.

It's of course somewhat offensive that Springer has the felt need to suggest, even pro forma, that they rejected an article which was not theirs to reject. But, at least, I can move on to the next submission without the worry that I'll be accused of unethical behavior.

Anyway, as I indicated to them, the paper will be submitted to a different journal on Saturday.

Up-Date (2011:04/19): This morning, my e.mail included five more messages from the Springer JEO Assistant, all from within a span of two minutes. The first was a CC of a message to the Editor-in-Chief,

Please find the mail below from [confused rendering of my name] who is willing to withdraw the paper.

Kindly let me know if I can set the final disposition in EM as “Withdrawn”.

Thank you very much and looking forward to your response.
This was followed then by three messages directed at my e.mail system as such, attempting to un-deliver that first message (something that some systems permit), then a message
Thank you for your mail.

The editor has rendered the decision for your paper.

Curious, I have checked the Editorial Manager status for the paper, which remains that of alleged rejection, rather than of withdrawal.

I'd already suspected that the last message from yester-day had not actually come from the JEO Assistant, though the e.mail address was hers, and that it was likely to have been an automated result of someone else entering a rejection into Editorial Manager. Beyond that, I don't know what here is mindlessness and what here is editorial pique.

Theory Maybe, but No Decision

Monday, 28 March 2011

After 18 months, two weeks, and 6 days without any a decision on whether to accept Indifference, Indecision, and Coin-Flipping on the part of Theory and Decision (published by Springer-Verlag), and after the failure of the editor to tell me the actual status of the paper in the application process, I have ended the application.

As I have mentioned before, I submitted a version of this paper to them on 5 September 2009, alerting them that one of their editors was creditted in the acknowledgments. I was told that I needed to redact those acknowledgments; I submitted a version with that change on 8 September of 2009.

The paper was submitted by way of a website running software called Editorial Manager, which offers a report of the ostensible current status of each paper. Neither the publisher of this software nor Springer seem anywhere to define the respective stages, nor even to identify them, except in-so-far as, as one waits and watches, various statuses are reported.

It took a little while before the status was reported as Editor assigned, but I had been assured by a JEO Assistant on 9 September that an editor was assigned. The status was subsequently up-dated in early January of 2010, when it became Reviewers assigned. Needless to say that I was concerned that it should have taken four months just to get reviewers assigned. In any case, the status was not up-dated again until 23 March 2010, at which point it was, well, Reviewers assigned, but now with a time-stamp of 23 March, as if reviewers had withdrawn, and new reviewers had to be found.

Nothing in the report had changed as of 28 June, when I finally wrote.

Can you please provide some information on the status of "Indifference, Indecision, and Coin-Flipping" (THEO789), submitted to Theory and Decision?

The manuscript was submitted on 8 Sep 2009. Since early January, the status reported at Editorial Manager has been "Reviewers Assigned", although the time-stamp of the status was changed in late Narch [sic, *facepalm*].
I received a reply on 29 June from the JEO Assistant.
We apologize for the delay in the processing of your paper.

There seems to be some difficulties in finding potential reviewers. However, I have forwarded your mail to Editor.
I did not receive anything from the essentially unidentified Editor. In any case, it seemed that Reviewers assigned meant something other than that reviewers had been assigned; rather, it could mean something such as that reviewers were being sought. And, 9 months after my paper had been submitted, it still didn't have any.

At the first anniversary of the submission, the status still read Reviewers Assigned (with, however, no further changes in the time-stamp); so, on 9 September I wrote

Could you please provide some information on the status of "Indifference, Indecision, and Coin-Flipping" (THEO789), submitted to Theory and Decision?

The manuscript was official submitted on 8 September 2009.
The JEO Assistant promptly replied
We apologize for the delay in the processing of your paper. Your manuscript has been sent out for review and I have forwarded your mail to him.

You will be notified once the decision has been taken.
So, apparently, Reviewers assigned could mean that reviewers were sought, or that they'd indeed been appointed; and it seemed that now my paper actually had them, though it wasn't clear when it got them between 29 June and 9 September. I went back to waiting.

On 15 November, the status reported by Editorial Manager was changed to Under review. So it would seem that a paper could be sent out for review, yet it would take another month-and-some-days before it would actually be under review. Or something. Evidently, the status labels are names, not descriptions; without a special dictionary, they tell one nothing.

I discovered that John Turri, commenting at a 'blog of Brian Leiter, reconstructed the labels of the Editorial Manager statuses as

  1. New submission
  2. Editor assigned
  3. Reviewers assigned
  4. Under review
  5. Reviews complete
  6. Editor has a decision

Anyway, as of 21 March of this year, the status was still reported as Under review. So I wrote

This article has been in your hands for over 18 months. While that is not a record, it is none-the-less a rather dire length of time.

For more than four months, Editorial Manager has labelled the article as "Under review". Whatever one may say for or against this paper, it does not take such time to actively read, digest, and critique. I would like to know what "Under review" actually indicates and, more importantly, what the actual status of this paper is.

I fear that I have simply wasted considerable time having submitted this paper to Springer Verlag, and that I should look for a publisher who might actually want to publish it.
and I received a reply on 21 March.
We apologize for the delay caused.

I have forwarded your inquiry to the editor and will let you know once I hear from him.
Now, that word caused gives me pause. If there'd been some assertion about causation, the caused would be fairly natural. As it is, that's just a bald caused, as if there'd been some concern that the delay might be uncaused — ex nihilo, as it were; but I don't think that they're trying to preëmpt metaphysical concerns on my part. That use of caused may be an attempt to allude to the period of time, never exactly identified for me, when potential reviewers were fleeing into the wilderness, but it could be that I'm looking at wording that has been imperfectly recycled.

The Editor hadn't bothered to contact me as of 23 March (and the reported status was unchanged), so I wrote

Given the history here, I have little expectation of receiving an adequate response from the editor or from anyone else at Springer Verlag before I yank my article from submission.
The reply on 24 March was
We apologize for the delay caused.

I have forwarded your inquiry to the editor and will let you know once I hear from him.
and, yeah, that's verbatim what I was told on 21 March. Recycled.

I could speculate about what the Hell has been and is happening at Theory and Decision, but it would just be speculation. I don't know whether I've been confronted with incompetence, indifference, malevolence, or some combination of two or of three of these; or if everybody's grandparents and uncles keep dying. (I'm pretty sure that one person over at Springer is mostly just helpless in the face of what others are doing, or choosing not to do.) But it's toxically infra dignitatem to continue to endure this situation. If the Editor were to have contacted me, to identify bottle-necks and sticking points, and to offer some reason to expect that the end result wouldn't just be rejection based upon a sloppy, last-minute reading of my paper, then it would be a different story.

So I've written to them

The offer of this paper to Theory and Decision is ended, as more than eighteen and a half months have been allowed to lapse without a decision, and the reluctance to keep me informed has now descended to a refusal to answer queries at all.

Whatever your superiors might direct notwithstanding, please none-the-less spare me any boiler-plate or otherwise vaguely insulting expression of regret.

I'll need to find another journal to which to submit the paper; I fear that this will be difficult. When other journals rejected the paper and gave reason (as did all but one), it was always that the paper was not appropriate to a readership as general as theirs; so I'd need to find a journal that can tolerate what is, for economics, very formal mathematics, concerned with what many readers would mistake for impractical refinement.

I've made or will make a few changes as well. I've modified the formulæ so that braces are only used to bound the definitions of sets, and angle-brackets are only used to hold the elements of lotteries; I'm hoping that these two changes help the reader. I've abandoned the use of partial ordering and, where I quote Savage using it, explained that the term incomplete preordering would now be more typical. I've corrected a spelling error in the acknowledgments. I have gone back and forth on whether to use a which or a that for a particular clause in a foot-note. I may perhaps include a brief commentary, essentially reïterating points about it made in this 'blog, on a paper by Eliaz and Ok.

Up-Date (2011:04/18): I have posted a continuation (and presumed completion) of the tale of these communications with Springer concerning this paper.


Friday, 21 January 2011

At 08:48 on 8 September 2009, I had resubmitted my paper on indecision to a journal after replacing acknowledgements with place-holders. (The paper was originally submitted on 3 September, with the acknowledgements in-place and with a note from me that one of their editors was mentioned thereïn. The journal tossed it back to me to scrub the acknowledgments.)

To-day, then, at 08:48, we passed Day 500 since the (re)submission of the paper. Day 500, and the present status is Under review, which became its official status on 15 November of last year. (I earlier labored its previous status changes.) Doubtless that someone is thinking that they've only had the paper for 67 days, but the journal itself has had it for 500 days.

I am aware — Would that there were a G_d to help us all! — that 500 days is not a record for such delay. Still, economics journals which report their mean time-to-decision typically declare it to be something on the order of a month.

in the silence you don't know

Monday, 5 July 2010

Those of you who've followed this 'blog for a while might be wondering what happened to the paper that I started submitting to journals in mid-June of last year. Well, yeah; me too.

As previously reported here, it was rejected by three journals as unsuitable to a general audience of economists, after being rejected by one without any reason being given. As it was rejected for being too specialized by one journal, I would then submit it to a more specialized journal. I submitted it to a fifth journal in early September. That process had to be repeated as their representative wanted me to purge the acknowledgments before the paper were passed-on to an editor (I'm not sure why someone there didn't delete them from the LAΤΕΧ file that they'd had me submit, nor why their submission template provides for acknowledgments, with no guidelines on when not to include them), but the paper was then officially recorded as submitted on 8 September. And I've been waiting since for a yea or for a nay.

They have an on-line site at which I can check on the status of my paper. After a while, the site reported that an editor had been assigned; then, in early January that reviewers had been assigned. Anthony suggested that perhaps they had had trouble finding reviewers who would be sufficiently comfortable with the sort of mathematics used. In late March the status report was changed to say that reviewers were assigned at that time, as if perhaps one or more of the original reviewers had left without returning an evaluation.

This journal doesn't really provide any guideline about querying them concerning the status of a submission. A common guideline from economics journals (as some others) is to contact them if one hasn't received any word after six months. I couldn't really claim that I'd not got any word for six months, but what I'd got surely didn't seem informative. Towards the end of June, after getting an opinion from Anthony, who said that I should feel free to query them, I did. The person whom I contacted said that, much as Anthony had suggested, there seemed to have been a problem finding reviewers, and that my query had been forwarded to the editor.

I've received nothing further. So, I don't really know the status of my paper.