Politics in Academia: A Case Study This is the story of our effort to publish a paper that threatens academia.

Glenn Geher:

Academic publishing is famously brutal. You might have a great manuscript that is under review then is rejected based on comments of one anonymous reviewer who thinks that you use too many exclamation points. Or a reviewer who is bitter because you didn’t cite his particular work. Or a reviewer who didn’t really read the manuscript and who goes on to criticize your work for neglecting some important statistical process that you, in fact, implemented plainly and correctly. 

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I know, because I have published more than 100 academic pieces in my career to date. I’ve pretty much been through it all. 

From this context, I will say that the most difficult paper that my team (the New Paltz Evolutionary Psychology Lab) and I have ever tried to publish was a paper on the topic of political motivations that underlie academic values of academics. 

That paper, inspired by a visit to our campus from NYU’s Jonathan Haidt, founder of the Heterodox Academy, was, a bit surprisingly to us, so controversial that it was rejected by nearly 10 different academic journals. Each rejection came with a new set of reasons. After some point, it started to seem to us that maybe academics just found this topic and our results too threatening. Maybe this paper simply was not politically correct. I cannot guarantee that this is what was going on, but I can tell you that we put a ton of time into the research and, as someone who’s been around the block when it comes to publishing empirical work in the behavioral sciences, I truly believe that this research was generally well-thought-out, well-implemented, and well-presented. And it actually has something to say about the academic world that is of potential value.