Tuesday, 14 June 2011

clear skies over Mordor

The forces of Sauron have been vanquished; Gandalf and his Elves have been victorious; and there is indeed a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow...

Translation: Following my earlier letter to the Editorial Board of the journal Cognition (see my last post), the entire Board (or as close as makes no difference) rose up as one and rebelled. Elsevier were taken by surprise (as was I). I wouldn't go so far as to say that jobs were lost, but responsibilities were shifted around, and I was asked to consider staying on. In short, Elsevier made me an offer I couldn't refuse. So I didn't, and I signed up for another three years. The following is an edited excerpt from the new letter I sent, just moments ago, to the Board (I have omitted from this excerpt the summary of events that led to where we are now - more important is what the 'where we are now' means).

My sense of Elsevier's 'change of heart' is that it reflects this: Elsevier [through the publisher now responsible for the journal] understand the role that the field plays in the journal's success, and understand that there are circumstances in which the field is the best judge of how it is best served by the journal. Moreover it is clearer now that Elsevier do have a commitment to working in partnership with, and not in conflict with, the field. In short, the field 'shares ownership' with Elsevier.

So my job over the next 3½ years is to keep serving the field. Although part of me would have liked to get my old life back, I relish the challenge of ensuring that when the next Editor-in-Chief starts, the journal will be on a very secure and manageable footing.

I'd like to end by thanking you for your extraordinary support. It was a quite humbling experience (I did not see the full extent of it, but various people sent me updates as the situation unfolded and as emails apparently rained down from all directions). But I understand that this was not about me. It was about the journal, and the field's involvement in the management of the journal. It remains a privilege to be a part of that management, and a member of the field.

So... after the excitement of the last three tumultuous weeks, life can return to normal. But at the risk of repeating myself, and because many people not on the Board wrote to me also, I want to take one further opportunity to say 'thank you' to all of them. It has been a very moving experience.