Names withheld to protect both the innocent and the guilty

A recent exchange between a friend of mine and an academic publisher:

Dear Dr. R:

In an effort to speed up the publication schedule and work through our backlog, we are attempting to collect any remaining permissions from authors who are moving up in line for publication. Our records indicate that we still require permissions for the image(s) contained in your article, “(redacted).”

Please return these permissions as quickly as possible or update us as to the status of your attempts to obtain these permissions. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

Thank you for your interest in The Journal of SomethingOrOther, and congratulations again on the acceptance of your essay for publication.

Best regards,

Editorial Assistant
The Journal SomethingOrOther

My friend’s response:

Dear Editorial Assistant,

Thank you so much for your note. I was very grateful when you accepted my article for publication in your journal seven (7) years ago. Since that time, approximately five (5) years ago, you forgot that you had accepted the article and re-sent it through your review process, after which you sent me a rejection letter based on the insane rants of an inflamed tea-partier (anachronistic, I know, but it gives you an idea of what I mean). After I brought this imbalanced review to your attention, you rescinded your rejection and re-accepted the article for publication. A year later you sent me a letter similar to the one above. Since I had several years before supplied all the permissions, I grew tired of our little back and forth, stimulating though it had become, and rescinded my acceptance of your re-proferred acceptance. Soon after, I also lost the article in a devastating hard drive crash, and subsequently quit my academic career. Since I no longer had a stake in feverishly publishing my feeble pensées in poorly-run academic journals, I thought no more of the matter, until today.

Best wishes to you and the entire Journal of SomethingOrOther family,


Note to self: choose topics that don’t require permissions wherever possible.  (This being only one of many lessons that could be drawn from the exchange above.)